Kolkata Sailor Wins Coveted Award for High-seas Heroics



A city-bred youth has won the coveted Lloyd’s ‘Seafarer of the Year’ award for a singular spectacle of bravery this year.

On May 23 last year, Bansdroni resident Deepanjan Ganguly, who has been riding the high seas around the world for nearly two decades now, was sailing on True Patriot with consignments from Brazil to Singapore.  When his ship was off Mauritius, he received a very high frequency call, VHF, in shipping parlance.  It was a May Day call, an SOS on sea.

“There was someone sinking and was crying out for help.  We were at a point where we had the Mauritius coast on one side and the Reunion and Rodrigues Island on the other.  Even with binoculars we couldn’t see anything but rolling waters for hundreds of nautical miles,” recounted Ganguly, who is on a short vacation now.

Luc Bernard’s yacht got capsized and was hanging on to his life boat which had a hole and was sinking.  He sounded hoarse with fright and screamed for help.  So Ganguly called the Mauritius Coast Guard to inform them about the victim.  “Unfortunately, they said that they were 250 nautical miles away and that would take an entire day to reach.  Instead, they suggested me to save him.  That was perhaps the biggest dilemma I faced in my life. Turning the ship away meant loss of fuel and consignments are time-bound.  But still I took the risk to save him.”

The water was so choppy that the ship’s rescue raft could not be lowered after reaching a safe distance from where Bernard could be seen with a binocular.  “I could not take the ship too close to him because it would be like pushing a 20-storey building against a human.  He would automatically sink in the waves or the propeller would suck him in.  We inched as close as we could,” Ganguly recounted.

At one point the ship could not close in further.  A ladder was lowered.  Ganguly kept announcing that Bernard had to let go of his boat and take the ladder.  It was difficult but the only proposition available.  Finally, he did it successfully.

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Source: Times of India


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