On Sunday morning, June 27, 2021, a fire destroyed a motor yacht of the type Azimut 68 worth well over half a million euros off Biograd. A message, which would have brought it probably hardly in the Austrian as well as the international press, if not on board of all things the former Austrian Vice-Chancellor H.C. Strache would have been. Since with a comparison of the different medium contributions it must become fast clear to the attentive reader that here the range of fiction and truth could not be clearly delimited any longer, the SeaHelp editorship proceeded completely “old school” and by Heinz Christian Strache by telephone the situation from its view let describe itself. Actually an obvious option…
Reporting with “alternative facts”
Because the reporting was characterized in parts by “alternative facts”, which may obviously be due to the prominence of the person concerned, H.C. Stracke seemed to be visibly happy to be allowed to describe his view of things in detail for once.
H.C. Strache on board by invitation
According to the report, he had been invited on board an Azimut 68 Fly by friends with his two adult children (19 and 21 years old) and four other people, it was not a charter. In total, there were seven people on board. “I wanted to clear my head before the busy days ahead,” he shared. After a cruise in the area of the Kornati and an overnight stay in an anchorage off Biograd, the crew then set off to return to the starting point, Biograd Marina. Around 11 o’clock, they actually wanted to go home from there to Austria by car.
Fire discovered at 9.45 h
The Azimut was sailing at 20 knots, later at about 11 knots, when suddenly at about 9.45 h dark smoke came out of the engine room. One of the owners, who was piloting the yacht, immediately stopped the engines. “We climbed into the engine room, which was already completely smoky at this point, and tried to extinguish the fire with the on-board fire extinguishers. The smoke decreased briefly, but then immediately increased again. Someone informed the fire department, I myself woke up the children who were still sleeping in the cabins at that time,” H.C. Strache describes the first minutes on board after the discovery of the fire.
Yacht abandoned after unsuccessful attempts to extinguish
“In the meantime, other skippers had also become aware of the smoke development and offered us their help. First, the women and children went to the other boat, while we men were still trying to extinguish the fire with more fire extinguishers. This took about half an hour. When we realized that our endeavor was hopeless, we too disembarked onto the other boats that came to our aid and had to watch from a safe distance as the yacht became a victim of the flames,” Strache continued.
Skippers helped with firefighting
In the process, according to his description, there were two minor explosions on board the burning yacht, which, however, did not pose any danger to the helpers waiting at a sufficient distance. Later, the boats rushed to help, a crew from Slovenia and a crew from Kapfenberg, Austria, brought the seven people to Biograd Marina. “Before that, we saw arriving fire engines, which probably wanted to protect the nearby shore from the flames spreading. The fire department took care of the yacht, which was still on fire at that time, only after almost two hours,” said H.C. Strache.
Nor was he detained in Croatia, as was sometimes reported in the media. On the contrary, he praised the behavior of the Croatian authorities, who had dealt with him in a very friendly and courteous manner. He was only asked to stay in Croatia until Monday to testify on the facts of the case. He had then already returned to Austria on Monday afternoon.
No alcohol, no grounding, no jumping into the water
Visibly incensed, however, he seemed to be at what he then got to read in the newspapers: “Among other things, alcohol was said to have been involved, and in addition the yacht had run aground beforehand and I allegedly had to save myself by jumping into the water. All not true, of course,” Heinz Christian Strache told SeaHelp editors, “after all, I still wanted to return to Austria on Sunday.”
Luck of the draw
The day after, the burned-out yacht was still in the water, oil barriers were to protect the Adriatic Sea from leaking diesel fuel and engine oil. And for the prominent Austrian remains as a conclusion: “We were lucky in the misfortune that it did not happen to us on the open sea.” He would like to take this opportunity to thank his helpers on the spot once again: “Without the help of the other skippers, this would probably not have gone so smoothly. Many thanks to all who supported us.”
The SeaHelp editors he sent some pictures, which he has shot during the stay on the supporting boat of the burning yacht yet.
It is frightening and significant how the one or the other media – unfortunately once again without inquiries, without research – demonstrably wrong report!
- The boat demonstrably did not run aground. It was about 250 meters from shore when smoke rose from the engine compartment/electrics while underway. The captain and the men on board tried in consequence, unfortunately in vain, to smother the smoke with fire extinguishers.After leaving the smoking boat, it later drifted in flames to the shore. The fire department and the fireboat have unfortunately arrived only two hours after notification.
- There were not 8, but 7 people on board. My two big kids, two family friends and I!
- No one had to jump into the sea and no one had to swim to shore, but Slovenians and Styrians from Kapfenberg first tried to help us extinguish the fire and subsequently rescued us with their boat and brought us to safety. This at 9:45 in the morning. 15 minutes before the scheduled return to the port in Biograd, where we wanted to go home by car at 11.
- Provably no one on board was intoxicated. After breakfast in the morning, we returned with the captain from a bay to the home port, at 11 o’clock we wanted to start the journey home by car. My children were asleep during the sudden smoke from the technical/engine room before and had to be woken up for open sea rescue. Fortunately, all remained unharmed and healthy after this morning shock experience. Thank you to the dedicated helpers and rescuers.
- The authorities are now taking the damage reports, salvage order and witness statements by means of protocol, where afterwards all those affected by the accident and witnesses can go home.