A yacht feared lost at sea after the 8.8-magnitude Chile earthquake has finally arrived in a Chilean port, more than a month after it was scheduled to dock.
The 46-foot sloop, SS Columbia, and its five crew members were expected to arrive at the port of Coquimbo on Feb. 27, the day that the earthquake struck. When it failed to arrive or to make radio contact, fears grew for the safety of the boat and its crew, three of whom were on a skippers' training course.
On Sunday, the Columbia and her exhausted crew sailed into the port, 35 days late, after spending days becalmed in the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from their destination and completely unaware of the earthquake or the tsunami that followed.
Now questions are being asked about the behavior of the boat's skipper, Polish-born French citizen Boguslaw Norwid, who, his crew allege, would not let them use a radio to contact their families to tell them that they were safe.
The family of Mitchell Westlake, a 23-year-old former Australian Navy officer, feared that he had drowned when he failed to contact them after the earthquake. But on Monday, Westlake phoned his grandfather, Ernie Westlake, at his Queensland home to say he was safe.
Westlake said that his grandson was on a training cruise with two Canadian women, as well as Norwid and his wife, when his boat became becalmed in the Pacific Ocean more than 1,000 miles off the coast of Chile, unaware of the powerful quake that killed almost 500 people in February.