A couple from Chatham-Kent are “rattled” following a close call out in the Caribbean.

Candice Pletsch and Tim Labute set sail for the Bahamas from Lighthouse Cove in the summer of 2018. All was well until they had to call “mayday” last week, shortly after ringing in the new year.

The two were out on the water during a windy day. Labute said they were “motoring” when they hit some choppy waves. It was at that time when a thru hull — which is a plug that fills a hole in the boat — failed.

“By the time we realized we were taking on water, we already had about two or two and a half feet of water in the boat,” he said. “Our high-water alarm was going off, the bilge pump was running but it wasn’t enough.”

Screenshot of a video posted online to Lady K Sailing. (Photo courtesy of Lady K Sailing via YouTube.)

The two started to use buckets to take out some of the water. Once Labute found the hole, he was able to fill it with a wooden plug.

“In the process of all of this, when I didn’t know where the leak was, we called mayday on the radio and the coastguard helicopter was here within a minute and a half,” he said.

Labute said in the end, the water reached about three feet above the bilge board.

Once the hole was filled and the boat stopped sinking, the couple was facing a big mess. Labute said several people within the sailing community offered to help in terms of assistance or electronic components and offering a dry place to sleep.

“It’s just amazing how much the community rallied around us,” said Labute.

The boat itself is physically intact, however, the couple is still working on flushing out the salt water and getting rid of the humidity.

“Ultimately structurally it’s fine and cosmetically quite good,” said Labute. “It just needs a really good cleaning and a really good dry out.”

The two have been docked at a marina the past couple of nights, running dehumidifiers. Some of their equipment was destroyed by the water.

“We’re just frantically going through the boat, trying to fix things,” said Labute. “Some of the lower mounted electronics went under water and some of the more expensive stuff — like the solar charge controller and the power inverter. We can afford to replace those things but it’s very difficult to get them shipped from the U.S. to Exuma.”

Labute said what happened was a fluke, something they didn’t expect to happen but were prepared for.

“As ready as we were to go and as much as we refit this boat, you never know,” he said. “Every thru hull in the boat, every safety thing… it’s all brand new stuff and you just don’t know what’s going to happen. The only thing I kept repeating in my head while we were sinking is, ‘there is a solution.’”

Pletsch said amidst their fears and concerns, they were able to hold it together, something she is proud of….


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Source: blackburnnews.com (Natalia Vega)

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Local couple continues on sailing journey after a sinking scare
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