SHROPSHIRE STAR – Sharon Went-Alleyne, 59, who is originally from Donnington, Telford, went missing on Saturday, October 25, whilst sailing from St Lucia in the eastern Caribbean Sea to Barbados, with her husband of 26 years, Arthur Alleyne, 63.
The couple were caught up in a storm, which repeatedly spun the yacht 360 degrees as winds destroyed their sails and left them without power.
Luckily they were found safe and well on Wednesday after they managed to steer themselves back towards St Lucia.
“We’d had a lovely sail up to about 40 miles out from Barbados,” Mrs Went-Alleyne said. “Then we went into some sort of a vortex which spun us one way and then the other and it ripped up the sails.
“Initially we tried to get in because we were only 20 miles off Barbados and their cell phone lines go out 15 miles.
“But we just couldn’t get in. We could see the storm brewing behind what we’d already hit, and we decided that if that hit us, it would take us onto the east coast of St Lucia, which would mean our deaths.
“So we turned and tried to run between the two islands of St Vincent and St Lucia. The storm caught us, of course, and by the time it released us we were 70 miles west of the island chain.”
Sharon and her family moved from Shropshire to Barbados in 1967 where she eventually met Mr Alleyene.
They now live on the island country of St Lucia in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
Mrs Went-Alleyne said the yacht the couple were sailing, Serenity, withstood the storm because of its two-inch thick hull, and because they went with the storm and didn’t hit anything, so that it suffered little further damage.
Tao Alleyne, the couple’s daughter, along with Mr Alleyne’s daughter Nicola Shepherd, did everything they could to raise awareness of their parents’ disappearance.
Mrs Went-Alleyne said: “It was very frustrating not being able to contact anyone. We weren’t aware of the programme they’d set up and contacts they were making. We were trying to concentrate on what was best for us as we’d run out of food, but had plenty of water.
“The worst moment for us was last Monday as it is a busy channel with cruise ships and yachts, and we saw nothing, not even seabirds. We talked about a lot of things including the possibility we might die. Then we pulled ourselves together and decided what was the next plan.
“The panicking was mostly done on my part. Sam saw it as a challenge and decided we weren’t going to die on his watch.”
Mrs Went-Alleyne explained that the efforts to rescue them were focused in the wrong area, because they decided to follow the tides and the storm up the coastline towards Guadeloupe.
“They didn’t take into account that Sam’s an old sea-dog and he knows these waters well so we’d actually gone between St Vincent and St Lucia to the south,” she said. “We managed to edge into St Lucia ourselves and a little boy came out with his dinghy and said ‘I’ve been watching you for a while, do you need any help?’
“It took us about half an hour to pull the boat in and tie it up on a buoy, and by the time we actually set foot on ground, even Tao knew we’d been found.”
Asked whether they’d be doing it again, Mrs Went-Alleyne said: “Me, not for a while, but my husband’s planning to take the same boat back to Barbados next week. I don’t want him to do it but there’s no way of stopping him.”
Mr Alleyne, who has more than 40 years sailing experience, is the former captain of the Brigg Unicorn, a ship that featured extensively in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Tao , 24, from Treherbert, South Wales, has spoken of her relief after her mother and stepfather were found safe and well.
“When my dad answered the phone I joked, saying ‘I’m going to kill you’ because they had me so worried,” she said.
“But really when my dad answered the feeling was indescribable. It was just a huge relief.
“We just want to thank everyone who helped us, the media and especially the people who were going out on their own boats and using their private planes and fuel to help with the search.
“We were so honoured that so many people were so willing to go out and look for them.”