Curious to know: SV Pipe Dream and BBC Seine write a great story of human survival and compassion at sea

By Curious

We would like to share with you an interesting story of human survival and compassion at sea.

A page from Robert Lugo Jr.’s personal log reveals his unforgettable experience on board of Sailing Vessel Pipe Dream

This extraordinary adventure happened last year when SV Pipe Dream was sailing in the North Pacific Ocean.

Robert and the rest of SV Pipe Dream’s crew were in real trouble when their boat run out of fuel.

Fortunately they were lucky enough - cargo ship BBC Seine was passing near their location and…

Read the rest of the story below:

Curious to know: SV Pipe Dream and BBC Seine write a great story of human survival and compassion at sea

Cargo ship BBC Seine while assisting SV PIPE DREAM with a desperately needed fuel transfer at 29º07N 134º44W - Image: Robert Lugo Jr.


Day after day, I have been quite concerned. Fuel is low, and from that, water, refrigerator, and autopilot are also low.
We have been training the whole crew at the helm. Without autopilot we would need to hand steer the boat the rest of the way. 3 shifts of two crew members, 2 hours on, 4 hours off. 4 hours of rough sleep. And cooking and cleaning and boat maintenance thrown in.

Hand steering during the day is pretty cool, for a while. Surfing the boat 12 feet down the face of a wave like we are playing on quads at the dunes with salt water in the face instead of sand. Feeling the power of 1500 square feet of sail pulling us along.
But at night, when you're tired and cranky, it doesn't have the same draw.

Right now, we have fuel to run the autopilot at night. Hand steering during the day to save Casper( The name the autopilot has. Maybe you'll get to see a pic) for the night.

Without power, we can't make water, and that is also kind of important. We do have reserves, but they are lean.

Third, the refrigerator. Keeping our precious food cold is staying out certain crew members. Like all of the crew members.

Well, today we had a turn of events.

I was taking an early turn at the wheel. A glance back. A second glance to verify the first. Something behind us... I look one more and

I yell loudly to get the crew on action. Get in action they do! Bud brings in a 24" dorado. The Captain gaffs it to get it onboard. I pour the vodka (speaking of vodka, more later:-) to stop the struggles. Lila and Kevin make fillets and clean up. I give thanks to the fish for its bounty and nourishment before his remains are returned to the sea.

A couple hours later...

Toni and I are hungry. Fridge is not cooling because of the fuel situation so we decide we should eat from it first. Hmmmm. The bacon should keep. The sealed pork tenderloins should keep.

The fish. We should make tacos.

We wouldn't want it to spoil, would we?
Chili lime powder in some mayo, more Chili and lime on the fish, and refried beans. Everyone devoured it. Nothing left. I guess that was a good sign.

Bud ate quickly since he was up to steer. Mine was next. I had a full half hour and enjoyed two huge fat fish tacos. Even Katie, through her bouts of seasickness, ate two.

We seven sailors then picked our watches. I took my usual.

Kevin was on the wheel now.

For some reason, Kevin spots all the cool stuff. He saw the dolphins a couple weeks ago, the whales, the first to see the birds, and tonight, he saw a ship. We pulled it up on the AIS. The BBC Seine, heading to China. Over 600 feet long.

Someone says, let's ask if they have fuel they can give us!

Johnny gets on the VHF and calls " BBC Seine, BBC Seine, BBC Seine, this is the Sailing Vessel Pipe Dream. Do you copy? "

A friendly Russian voice comes back.

Our bold Captain explains our situation and then asks if they could spare some fuel.

Stand by...

They day they are changing course, and will come around to windward, throw us a line that will have fuel jugs attached.

The excitement in the boat was now electric!

Everyone had a job. Lila and Kevin upfront, as lookouts and handling the jib. Katie and Toni getting lines ready, Bud and myself ready to haul in Jerry cans. Captain Johnny on the helm and radio, coordinating position and us.

We had rough seas, and the sun was on the horizon. This was going to be a challenge.

John held our little boat steady while the BBC Seine came alongside.

Have no doubt, it is freaking scary being next to a ship of that size, and we were less than twenty feet away at times. Wind gusts sped us up, and we had to back down again. The ship had its own wind when we got close. The crew of the Seine was amidships with a throwing line.

Suddenly, I saw a black ball, and a line flying directly towards us. Right over the boom. As perfect a throw as could be hoped for. We got it secured to a winch, and those wonderful Russians then dropped five 5 gallon jugs in the water for us.

Thank you, BBC Seine!

After a bit of wrangling, we got those jugs on our boat.

High fives all around.

When it was all said and done, the Captain declared just how stressed he was. It was a tough job, and he handled it well. Thanks Captain.

Right now, Casper is steering, the fridge is cooling, and our water jugs are full.

What a relief. What a day.

Pipe Dream out.

29º07N 134º44W
2100 HST
Robert Lugo Jr.