What is the Argos system?

The Argos system on the yacht carried a transmitter that radiated a code signal at 60 second intervals. The satellite Noah 9 carried the receiver for the Argos system and the signal data was downloaded every few orbits to a computer in Virginia, USA. The data was then sent to Toulouse, France, and from France to the Centre for Marine Science & Technology (CMST) in Bentley, WA. The signal was guaranteed accurate to within three kilometres, but was usually more accurate than this, being reliable to within 100 metres. If Sanders had to abandon ship, he could activate the alarm button on the transmitter platform to alert scientists in Toulouse who would in turn notify the French Coast Guard, CMST and the Sea Safety and Surveillance Centre in Canberra. If the transmitter stopped sending the signal, the CMST would also be notified.

At 11.35am on 25 November 1987, the Argos satellite reporting system on the yacht went into distress mode and an alarm was relayed to John Penrose and his assistant, Tim Pauly, at the CMST. At the time, Sanders was off the Falkland Islands. Penrose telephoned the Canberra Sea Safety Centre, Parry Corporation, the Falklands Governor in Port Stanley and the Port Stanley Harbour Master, Captain John Jackson. By 10pm, Penrose was notified that a Royal Navy Sea King Helicopter had made an aerial sighting of Sanders on his yacht and all was well. The false alarm had ceased after 100 minutes and it is still not known what caused the malfunction in the ARGOS system. At 3.15am the next day, the Canberra Centre phoned John Penrose to inform him of another mayday message, calling back some 15 minutes later to report that it was an error. The message was actually from the previous day’s false alarm. (Source Project Endeavour)

Where is Storm Bay?

Storm Bay is an inlet of the Tasman Sea, indenting southeastern Tasmania, Australia. It is about 16 miles (26 km) long and 25 miles (40 km) wide, is bounded by Bruny Island (west) and the Tasman Peninsula (east), and opens into Norfolk and Frederick Henry bays to the northeast. The River Derwent estuary enters the bay from the northwest by way of Hobart. It was named by the Dutch navigator Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642 when a storm forced his ships out to sea before they could anchor there. The British explorers George Bass and Matthew Flinders sailed its waters in 1798–99. (Source Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Where is Cape Leeuwin?

Cape Leeuwin is the most south-westerly mainland point of the Australian Continent, in the state of Western Australia. A few small islands and rocks, the St Alouarn Islands, extend further to the south. The nearest settlement, north of the cape, is Augusta. South-east of Cape Leeuwin, the coast of Western Australia goes much further south. Located on headland of the cape is the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and the buildings that were used by the lighthouse keepers. In Australia, the Cape is considered the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean; however most other nations and bodies consider the Southern Ocean to only exist south of 60°S. (Source Wikipedia)

What is a sextant?

A sextant is an instrument for determining the angle between the horizon and a celestial body such as the Sun, the Moon, or a star, used in celestial navigation to determine latitude and longitude. The device consists of an arc of a circle, marked off in degrees, and a movable radial arm pivoted at the centre of the circle. A telescope, mounted rigidly to the framework, is lined up with the horizon. The radial arm, on which a mirror is mounted, is moved until the star is reflected into a half-silvered mirror in line with the telescope and appears, through the telescope, to coincide with the horizon. The angular distance of the star above the horizon is then read from the graduated arc of the sextant. From this angle and the exact time of day as registered by a chronometer, the latitude can be determined (within a few hundred metres) by means of published tables. (Source Encyclopaedia Britannica)

What is the Aghulas Bank?

The Aghulas Bank, from Portuguese for Cape Agulhas, Cabo das Agulhas, “Cape of Needles”) is a broad, shallow part of the southern African continental shelf which extends up to 250km (160mi) south of Cape Agulhas before falling steeply to the abyssal plain. It is the ocean region where the warm Indian Ocean and the cold Atlantic Ocean meet. This convergence leads to treacherous sailing conditions, accounting for numerous wrecked ships in the area over the years. However the meeting of the oceans here also fuels the nutrient cycle for marine life, making it one of the best fishing grounds in South Africa. (Source Wikipedia)

What is the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Rocks?

The Saint Peter and Saint Paul Rocks (Portuguese Penedos de São Pedro e São Paulo), is an archipelago lying about 685 miles (1,100 km) off the coast of northeastern Brazil, just north of the Equator. Under Brazilian sovereignty, it consists of six large islands, four smaller ones, and several rock tops. It is one of the most important fishing sites of northeastern Brazil, and several migrating species are caught there annually. The islands are unhospitable and uninhabited. A scientific station was established there in 1998. (Source Encyclopaedia Britannica)

What are lee-cloths?

Unless the structure of the boat renders them unnecessary (quarter berths, pilot berths with partitions), bunks on a yacht must have lee-cloths to prevent the sleeper falling out due to the motion of the vessel. These are sheets of canvas attached to the open side of the bunk (very few are open all round) and usually tucked under the mattress during the day or when sleeping in harbour. Lengths of rope are attached to the upper corners of the lee-cloth, and fittings are provided above the bunk to which these lines can be tied, holding the cloth in place as a kind of wall across the open side of the bunk. (Source Wikipedia)