The last two long weekends brought a lot of work to the SeaHelp emergency forces, an unmistakable sign that most of the water sports enthusiasts have long since returned to the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. Among the most significant and also highly visible operations was obviously the fire of a Bayliner 29 motor yacht off the coast of Krk.
SeaHelp at the scene after 16 minutes
After a caller informed the SeaHelp operations center in Punat about the burning motor yacht at exactly 12:31 h on Saturday, June 5, the SeaHelp response boat immediately started moving. Coordinates were not necessary for this operation, as a cloud of black smoke visible from afar showed the way to the emergency forces. They reached the scene just 16 minutes after the initial alert, immediately after the fire department arrived.
Crew was able to save themselves
An initial assessment of the situation at the scene confirmed what the SeaHelp crew had already learned during the approach: the crew of the burning motor yacht was able to escape in time to another ship that had rushed to their aid, so there was no personal injury.
Crew: Suddenly it burned without notice
The crew of the totally damaged boat explained, “We were with friends in a bay, making our way back to Marina Punat. The engines were running normally and everything was okay. The friend with his boat in front of them slowed down, so we slowed down too, and in the process we noticed a strange smell. There was already a fire. The skipper tried to put it out. But by then it was too late. We left the boat, to our friend, who then called SeaHelp.
Still burning yacht should be towed
Firefighters were able to contain the flames to a large extent, but ultimately the fire was already advanced. Their only chance was to contain the fire on the burning yacht enough to allow a safe tow on the SeaHelp response boat with firefighter support. On the express order of the Krk Fire Department, the yacht was to be towed to the Camping Politin east of Krk, because there was a suitable possibility to pull the still burning yacht ashore via the slipway and continue the extinguishing work there.
Preventing the sinking of the remains
The decision to pull ashore a yacht that is still burning weakly in a suitable place makes perfect sense: this prevents the remains from sinking to the bottom of the Adriatic Sea and the associated pollution of the sea water by any escaping engine oil or gasoline that has not yet burned. At the same time, this also saves the time-consuming salvage operation. In addition, one wanted to avoid, not least because of the fire in the Marina Kastela, with a still burning yacht to a marina such as the Marina Punat.
Towing not without risk
Such a tow cannot be carried out completely without risk, because it requires extremely professional action. On the one hand, there is the danger that the yacht could sink due to the considerable quantities of extinguishing water, and on the other hand, one never knows whether the fire has not already caused leaks in the hull area. Therefore, fast action was the order of the day.
Extinguishing operation on land continued
In short, the Krk Fire Department literally gave “fire protection” to the SeaHelp task forces to attach the towline to the bow of the burning vessel and off they went to the Politin campsite, where another fire truck was already waiting, pulled the Bayliner 29 ashore via the slip facility and continued the firefighting operations there. It should not go unmentioned that the unusual tow already attracted attention both on the water and on shore: the SeaHelp response boat ahead, then in the wake the burning Bayliner, which continued to be extinguished by a fireboat alongside, is a sight that you certainly do not see every day.
No environmental damage
After the last flames were extinguished on land and the embers were removed, the yacht could be transported away with a truck-mounted crane. As a positive result of the good cooperation of the fire department Krk, the fire department of the Marina Punat and SeaHelp remained under the bottom line: Accidental yacht safely brought ashore, salvage from the depths of the Adriatic Sea avoided and environmental damage largely prevented.
Many SeaHelp deployments due to engine problems
Yet the fire was not the only deployment this weekend. According to SeaHelp headquarters in Punat, the number of deployments in recent days has been well above average. Not least because many owners obviously could hardly wait to finally have more than a hand’s breadth of water under the keel again and neglected maintenance despite all the anticipation of the first trip. “Engine problems were among the most common triggers of a SeaHelp mission, they were usually so serious that they could not be fixed on site and the ship had to be towed to the nearest marina,” a SeaHelp spokesman summed up.
Towing free for members
Since can be happy, who already has a membership with SeaHelp, because towing is free for members.