Tragedy hits the Monaco Yacht Show

27 September 2010 By Claire Griffiths

On Saturday, September 25 , at approximately10:20 p.m. on the last day of the Monaco Yacht Show 2010, Capt. Michael Ziems of S/Y Burrasca was onshore at a meeting with brokers. Around the same time Bosun William Black was returning to the yacht on the tender, leaving the harbour for S/Y Burrasca, which was anchored outside the harbour walls. A myriad of lights glisten throughout the bay. Suddenly the tender collided into the unmanned 31-metre sailing yacht Fado (pictured above, with S/Y Burrasca just visible in the background).

No one knows exactly what happened and William has disappeared.

The crew of S/Y Fado are believed to have noticed something was amiss a short time later and immediately raise the alert to CROSS-Med at 10:50 p.m. explaining that they have been hit by a tender while on anchor off the coast of Monaco as part of the Monaco Yacht Show.

Twenty two private yacht tenders mobilise in the search to find William under the co-ordination of S/Y Maltese Falcon's Capt. Chris Gartner.

Official rescue operations include Monaco's Maritime Police vessel Libeccia, the SNSM (Lifeboat Rescue) vessel of Menton and the civil safety vessel Dragon 06 take part in the operation and later are relieved by Dauphin N3 of the French National Marine that arrives around 3 a.m.

Now, two days later, everyone is tired and dazed. Capt. Ziems explains what happened, "After searching for six and a half hours with two helicopter searches, I called off the operation at 5.30 a.m. on Sunday morning and we resumed again at 8.30 a.m. But another run with divers and helicopters was negative." Captain Ziems and the rescue teams were unable to trace William Black who is now missing, presumed dead.

Yesterday Capt. Ziems and his crew spent the rest of the day coming to terms with this terrible tragedy. "It was a very unhappy day. I had to phone his parents, which was the worst phone call of my life," he says. "We have had a lot of support from other yachts and I would especially like to thank Capt. Chris Gartner of S/Y Maltese Falcon for all his help and coordinating the search and rescue."

William was only 28 years old.

Today the crew dropped flowers in memory of their bosun and friend. "William had been with us on the yacht since July and he was a good part of the team. He was a nice guy, a nice ''hooligan'', jokes Captain Ziems fondly, remembering William's light hearted spirit. "All our memories are with him now."

S/Y Burrasca now returns to her berth at La Spezia, Italy.

Bosun William Black is the "horizontal diver" in the photo below. I met Michael less than 10 days ago when we discussed finding a way to publish it in Dockwalk. Sadly it is now being used under entirely different circumstances.

"Sunset on a life of promise" (Photo by Captain Michael Ziems)