Last month, Nice was the site of a rescue story like no other. Find out how the SOS alert on Navily saved Hervé from a complicated situation.
Hervé, a budding boater, found himself in a more than complicated situation on his return from a weekend to the Lérins Islands. Fortunately for Hervé, he could count on the solidarity of Jean-Daniel who came to rescue him and his friends following the SOS alert launched on Navily. The octopus had the chance to meet them on the docks of Port Lympia to tell us their story.
Interview with Hervé and Jean-Daniel in the company of The Octopus and Benjamin, founder of Navily
The Rescuee : Hervé on his Jeanneau Folie douce from 1975
Breton d’origine, il est installé sur la french Riviera depuis quelques années pour le travail. La voile, c’est un reve de gamin qu’il décide enfin de réaliser. Il fait l’acquisition de son premier voilier en novembre l’année dernière, un Jeanneau Folie douce 1975 nommé Hamac. Depuis, l’apprenti navigateur a effectué quelques vérifications sur son bateau et a commencé à le tester sur des trajets courts pour s’habituer et apprendre les bases de la navigation sur voilier.
The Rescuer : Jean-Daniel on his Jeanneau Poker from 1974
Dynamic map of the rescue
So Hervé, tell us a bit about the context of this unique boat trip?
I went out with 2 friends to the Lérins Islands over the weekend. We left Nice around noon on Saturday and set sail for the islands. The weather was good. We have had little experience on the boat (a Vespa mechanic and two budding boaters), but a lot of enthusiasm and two dogs to keep us company. Two and a half hours later after a smooth trip we reached the islands.
There, we docked the boat and took advantage of the exceptional setting during the night and the following day. It wasn’t until late Sunday afternoon that decided to head home and set sail for Nice and Port Lympia.
So far, so good, what happened next?
Whilst the weather was good on the way out, I can’t say the same for the return trip. As we approached Nice it started to rain cats and dogs. Nonetheless, this little meteorological bother did not prevent us from cracking on. A little wet, we continued our journey, when suddenly the wind died down…
We are not very experienced sailors and with only one sail on the boat, we logically switched to the engine. The rain started falling harder, we were soaked to the skin, but the engine was slowly carrying us home. With the wind having died down, we even completely lowered the sail for fear that it would slow us down.
This is where it got tricky. While we were facing the airport, 3 km off the coast, we suffered engine damage… The propeller was spinning in a vacuum and it was impossible to find the source of the problem with our amateur knowledge and our Vespa mechanic, lying in bed seasick …
A technical problem that can happen to anyone ... So what did you do?
We wanted to let ourselves be carried by the current which until then had been favorable to us … But the intensification of the rain greatly increased the flow of the Var, a river which flows into the sea at Nice airport. This created a current which this time carried us off towards Corsica. Even though we had pointed the nose of the boat towards our destination, we were moving away from it….
At 10 p.m., we were 8 km from the coast, with no way to regain control. No wind, no engine, soaked and tired, we were at the mercy of the weather and the current. To make matters worse, the boat’s battery was rapidly weakening. So I decided to contact CROSS to help us!
An important reaction that you did well to have, what happened next?
Communication with the CROSS was poor, the distance from the coast and the low battery did not help. After taking all the phone numbers on board, the CROSS offered to come and get me for the modest sum of 2500 euros… So I stopped to think before giving them an answer and that’s when Navily popped into my head!
I had installed the app to find anchorages in the area and I remembered a big SOS button, so I opened the app and with the last network bar I had left, sent an SOS out of desperation … and shortly after, Jean-Daniel answered me via the chat on Navily. From that moment, I felt a weight off my shoulders as I knew someone would come to our rescue. Despite the cold, rain and engine failure, we felt relieved! I can let Jean-Daniel tell the rest of the story now!
Jean Daniel, you are from Nice and you received the notification on Navily because you were within 10 nautical miles of Hervé's boat. What did you do when you found out about the situation?
I was just leaving a family dinner when I got the notification. At first I thought it was a joke – at this time of night… in the middle of March… with the current Covid restrictions……
The Nice area has a lot of users who were therefore automatically added to the SOS conversation on Navily, but at this late hour, I was the first to respond to the distress call.
Via Navily’s chat, he was able to confirm his engine failure and his delicate situation. With his boat’s position shown on the app, I decided to take my dog for a walk in the harbor to see if I could spot him. Upon arriving at the marina, I saw a glow in the distance that matched the GPS position shown on the app.
At around 11:00 pm I told Hervé via Navily that I would come to tow him back to shore. So off I went to prepare my boat, taking my dog with me as a justification for breaking the curfew rules for if I was stopped and checked.
How did the rescue go?
I left the marina around 11:30 pm and carefully followed the coordinates indicated by my GPS, but I could no longer see any light in the distance… Their battery was about to die and in order not to lose the VHF they had deactivated the mast light. Fortunately, they were equipped with a powerful flashlight on board, and through Navily’s chat, I was able to ask them to hang it on the mast so that I could have visual contact.
After only 1 hour of sailing, I arrived at their position where we were able to maneuver and safely attach the two boats. They were so happy when I arrived! I will remember this for the rest of my life!
By navigating with caution, we were able to reach the port of Nice Lympia and moor Hervé’s boat in its appointed place right next to the maritime rescue services (ironic, isn’t it?).
In the end, more fear was done than harm, but the situation could have escalated quickly and I understood when I got there that I had certainly made the right decision in coming to their rescue.
In the end everyone arrived safely and this thanks to the solidarity of the sailors embodied by Jean-Daniel and effective communication via Navily ... Hervé, what lessons have you learned from this experience?
The first is a lesson in humility. The sea, even calm, must be respected and nothing must be neglected. With hindsight, the damage is certainly an unfortunate event, but with more anticipation and caution, we could have avoided this situation. Today, it is with much more caution and the many tips of a new friend and sailing partner (Jean Daniel) that I am organizing my next few outings.
The second is a lesson in humanity. Solidarity at sea is a pillar of the seafaring community and I have been able to experience it in the most beautiful way. Thanks to Navily and the solidarity of Jean Daniel, the story ended well and I will be eternally grateful to him. In the future, if I can show solidarity, it is without hesitation that I will help a sailor in distress.
Great lessons to be learned and we can only encourage you to practice safe and informed sailing, and thank Jean Daniel for the solidarity he has shown! Without it, our SOS alert would unfortunately not have been able to prove its effectiveness…. And for you Jean-Daniel, a word to conclude?
Yes, I, a sailor from Nice in blood and heart, am very proud to have been able to rescue, a Breton in the Mediterranean …
Final word: SOS alert on Navily
Since summer 2020, Navily has made an SOS mode available in the application. This mode informs you of emergency numbers in the area where you are located and it also allows you to ask for help from the community. SOS mode is not intended to replace emergency services, which are essential.
On the other hand, with the large Navily community, you very often have another Navily user a few miles away who can help you quickly.
By combining the strength of the community, inApp chat and geolocation, the SOS alert is a tool that reinforces the power of mutual aid between all sailors, as the story of Hervé and Jean-Daniel so clearly demonstrates.