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Sailing news | Njus Australia

How old salt survived deadly Bight roll

Sailing The Advertiser

Swiss sailor Peter Baggenstos has faced many challenges during his solo sailing trips around the globe, including having pirates hold a gun to his head — twice.
'However, nothing compares to the storm he faced in the Great Australian Bight that very nearly sank his beloved yacht in some of the world’s most insolated seas. The 76-year-old adventurer limped into the Port Lincoln marina this week, bruised, battered and with a badly damaged yacht — but happy to be alive.Mr Baggenstos, who learned to sail on the lakes of Switzerland before honing his skills on the Mediterranean, left port in Venezuela in October before arriving in Cape Town in December.After a couple of months in the South African city he struck out for Hobart on February 2, making his away across the notoriously windy and wild stretch of Southern Ocean known as the Roaring Forties. Almost two months into the crossing Mr Baggenstos an intense low pressure system off the coast of South Australia.Mr Baggenstos sailed north for two days in an attempt to outrun the ferocious storm, to no avail. Battling 7m seas, his beloved Moody 425 named Lady Lay was smashed onto its side on March 26.Dazed, disorientated and bleeding from a gash to the head, Mr Baggenstos pulled himself out of the yacht’s cabin.“That’s when I heard another huge wave coming,” Mr Baggenstos said in Port Lincoln this week. “I wrapped myself around the steering station and hung on with my arms and legs for dear life.”When he was finally able to asses the damage Mr Baggenstos realised that the boom that holds the bottom of the mainsail was broken, with about one third of the length remaining joined to the main mast. After many hours of bailing water and securing broken rails and other damaged parts he realised the rigging holding the main mast in place was loose. He used what was left of the boom to hoist a small mainsail and headed apprehensively for Port Lincoln, 1000km away.“The batteries had disconnected in the roll over and I had no power to start the engine, but I had just enough to run the GPS intermittently,” Mr Baggenstos said. After four straight days of sailing with very little sleep and no dry clothes or bedding, a steamer came alongside and asked if he needed assistance. Convinced he could make it on his own he declined.Marine life in Great Australian BightBut before he could make it safely to port, he had to do battle with the howling northerlies of April 5, the storm that saw Adelaide covered in dust.After an epic nine-day ordeal, Mr Baggenstos limped into Port Lincoln on April 6, getting towed across Boston Bay by a fishing vessel as, ironically, the wind had dropped too much for him to make any headway.“My son was very worried as he hadn’t heard from me him and was very relieved to get the call from the authorities saying that I was OK,” he said.Port Lincoln’s sailing and fishing community have banded together to help Mr Baggenstos get Lady Lay back on the water, and he hopes to continue his journey in the coming weeks.'