Torn sails on board with Moritz Herrmann
"This letter is a little difficult for me, it is a farewell to dreams and my beloved boat." This is how the email that single-handed sailor Moritz Herrmann sent to sailing friends and acquaintances at the weekend begins. The sentence suggests that nothing good, maybe even the worst, will follow. And that's right, the 74-year-old circumnavigating the world, father of Germany's best-known high seas professional Boris Herrmann, describes in his letter how he got into such a desperate situation on the Indian Ocean with his steel ketch "Fidel" that he made an emergency call and himself let go. Before doing this, he opened the sea valves on his ship to sink it and not make it an obstacle to shipping. End, over, over
"Opening the sea valves was like murdering a good friend," says Moritz Herrmann about his last moments on board. "But there was nothing left to do, and when I saw that it was good. I've been lucky so often."
From the beginning, the planned circumnavigation of the Oldenburg was not a good star. Herrmann had already lost a rudder on the Atlantic and was hooked in a remarkable rescue operation by the freighter "Tres Hombres" and towed into the Caribbean (YACHT 5/2013). But even after that, Herrmann's hydraulic system kept causing problems.
In winter 2012: The steel ketch "Fidel" in tow on the Atlantic
Moritz Herrmann is now back in Germany, you can read his very emotional report in full here:
"Dear sailing friends!
This letter is a little difficult for me, it is a farewell to dreams and my beloved boat. In the last few months I had suffered a lot of defeats: the steering system's hydraulics kept failing. In Bali I decided to have the rudder rebuilt so that it turned more easily. The hydraulics were (once again) overhauled. So I started to Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands with a good feeling and experienced happy sailing days off a steady southeast. A North Sea sailor can hardly imagine this happiness of gliding for days in warm temperatures, almost without operating the sails, in a sea that has no shoals here, 1000 nautical miles from all land. On the Cocos Islands I found the most beautiful anchorage of my trip, crystal clear water over white sand. Most of the sailors had turned north, only a small group headed further west towards South Africa.
My next destination after Cocos was Rodrigues, an island that belongs to Mauritius. I experienced the most beautiful sailing days ever with Etmalen of 140 nm and saw myself at the intermediate destination in about 10 days.
When the new furling system broke out of the deck, hanging from the top of the mast, the heavy roller cage and the whole system with the sail threw far to the leeward, only to thunder against the boat like a wrecking ball. A life-threatening struggle to catch the foot began. A particularly violent gust, supported by a violent sea, swirled the system high over the mast to the windward side. I managed to catch them with a line and lash them to the railing. Breathing only for a short moment, because the sail tore so violently that the reefing rod bumped and pulled unpredictably and the window in the ship's side threatened to smash. But they came far under water with every roll …
During this fight I was tossed back and forth several times, scared my back across the deck, but was always able to hold on to the railing, bleeding from my hands and feet, and from my nose after a blow with the rod.