Danny Weil deals with Mother Nature twice – in a big way
The typhoon struck when Yasme was literally within sight of Port Moresby, maybe a dozen or so miles away. Danny was thrown first horizontally, then vertically, only to find himself standing on the inner side of the cockpit coaming. The wind had swung suddenly 180 degrees, and it was quickly becoming a full blast hurricane. Yasme was thrown absolutely flat on its side, and the cross-trees of the mast were actually on the water and the engine suddenly roared as the prop was brought clear of the water. Water poured into the cockpit and flooded the cabin, finally pouring in through the forward hatch which was wide open.
Panic stricken, Danny ran along the side of the cabin to free the jib halyard and sheet. The wind screamed through the rigging and towering seas broke right over the Yasme trying hard to sink her as fast as possible. Danny used the last of its generator’s life to contact Frank, VK9FN in Port Moresby and seek help. In spite of being in radio contact with VK9FN as well as with another Australian amateur he was unable to get his bearings in the storm even though he was within 10 miles of Port Moresby. Finally an Air Sea Rescue Craft was sent out which towed him 30 miles through 40 knot winds, in total darkness. The rescue journey took 12 hours!
An old warehouse next to Yasme in Port Moresby became the location of VK9TW from September 24th through October 16th while Yasme underwent maintenance and clearing of the mess below its deck. The place was only 100 yards from the moorings of Yasme. Power was made available and the rig was set up – instant ham shack for some 600 QSOs!
It was time to leave immediately after a new mainsail had arrived from New York. After clearing the infamous Gulf of Papua, Danny entered again the open seas and what he thought was calmer waters and easy sailing. But instead, it was the time for the big and final hit: Yasme had veered off course and struck an uncharted reef. Danny expected to be able to get off the reef when the tide would rise, and he scrambled over the sloping deck to cast out the anchor! He had hoped for magic, but his prayers had fallen on deaf ears and gradually Yasme settled firmly on the reef.
Late that day his SOS was answered by VK2AUR in Australia. Also, VK9FN came to his frequency and Danny reported his position as best he knew it. A rescue plane was promised the next day.
By morning the Yasme had sunk further below the waterline and Danny knew it would be hard to be spotted from the air. But after 8 AM the rescue plane found the wreck, signaling to Danny that help was on the way. It was an RAAF, 4-engine Lincoln bomber. Something dropped from its bomb bay and hit the water. It was a life raft which gradually took its form as the tiny cylinder of CO2 inflated the raft to its full size. Exhausted Danny swam to the dingy and passed out.
The next thing he saw was a Seaplane from Quantas Airways landing nearby in heavy seas, and soon Danny was onboard. Danny arrived in Port Moresby with nothing and received help from the Red Cross and others. Yasme was not insured and not worth salvaging. Danny Weil soon flew to Australia and then back to the United States with the dream of a new boat and a swift return to the seven seas and many new DXCC encounters!
Sometimes the pieces just don’t fall into place – not on any front. These are the back-stage events that each DXpedition and DXpeditioner must face alone. Rarely do we lend a hand to them and show how much we appreciate the pain and suffering that is always present, particularly when the most critical element of them all – those famous (or infamous) seven seas – are selected to serve as the medium for our most sincere adventures and voyages.
But at the same time this is the very point where men are separated from boys. For some it is the point for re-evaluating the matter and deciding whether this is worth doing and worth experiencing. Is there enough pay-back in becoming a world-wide radio showman and doing something that no one has never done before – single handedly? (note by author)
Danny had many lonely nights to think about this all. He had lost just about everything and he had no pillow to rest his head on. He had no means to build what was lost. But he soon realized that he still had himself and the original dream to proceed with. And so he did and soon life took another turn!READ ON > We are back on the American soil with an American dream RETURN TO > FIRST PAGE