Saturday, February 20, 2010
A floating classroom with 64 people on-board has sunk off the coast of Brazil, but officials say everyone was rescued. The SV Concordia tall ship, which has educated 20 Bermudians in it's Class Afloat programme since 2000, was 300 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro when it hit bad weather. A press release on the boat's owners, the West Island College, of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, says they were contacted at 8 a.m. on Thursday by Brazilian authorities about a distress signal. And yesterday around 6.30 a.m. all 64 people, including 48 high school and college students were rescued from the rafts by merchant vessels in the area. The first Bermudian to sail on the SV Concordia, Ruth O'Kelly-Lynch, said she was shocked by the sinking and defended the boat's safety record. She said: "I was truly devastated when I heard early this morning that the Concordia had sunk. Since then I have been in touch with alumni in Canada the US and Europe. "I spent a year sailing the world on her and was the first Bermudian to go to class afloat, since then approximately 20 others have sailed her.
S.V. ConcordiaThe year I spent aboard was the most important year of my life and shaped who I am now. "While we do not yet know what happened aboard I think it is important for people realise the fact that 64 people survived a capsized ship and 18 hours in a life raft is a testament to the programme's safety precautions. While aboard I sailed around cape horn the worst sailing route in the world. "We went through so many drills that I still remember my jobs and where I was expected to go nine years latter. The fact that everyone is unharmed today illustrates that the Concordia still holds safety first as paramount." The 190-foot SV Concordia had been en route between Recife, Brazil and Montevideo, Uruguay as part of a 10-month voyage. It was expected to reach Uruguay on Thursday. Reports from the Brazilian navy said they were told by the Concordia crew that their ship capsized in rough and high seas. The school, however, said it didn't know the status of its vessel, which was on it's 25th Anniversary sail and was scheduled to stop in Bermuda in June.