Bob Weise and Steve Shapiro, both 71, are holed up in Cornwall, England, having been rescued nine times since they set out from Norway in July.
ABC Breaking News | Latest News VideosTwo American sailors dubbed the “Captains of Calamity” are determined to finish their voyage across the Atlantic, despite having been rescued nine times in the past seven months.
Traveling aboard the 40-ft. Nora, Bob Weise and Steve Shapiro, both 71, set out from Norway in July with the aim of landing on the coastline of Maine within a year.
Since then, they have troubled the emergency services of Norway, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland and England with two battery failures, two cases of propeller damage and one more time when they got into trouble while rowing to the anchored yacht. They’ve also run aground in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.
Most recently, the pair managed to accidentally set fire to the Nora in the tiny harbor of Hayle, Cornwall, when the yacht tipped over at low tide and a burning candle set their clothes alight. Shapiro and Weise were ashore picking up groceries at the time and the blaze was safely put out by firefighters before Nora sustained any major damage.
The pair of adventurers are now holed up in the small fishing village until the notorious British weather turns in their favor – predicted to happen by the middle of next week.
“I bought a boat and I’m taking it home. It’s as simple as that,” Shapiro, a screenwriter and author originally from California, tells PEOPLE.
“We are doing a lot of cleaning and repairing. The boat looks like hell because there has been a lot of cosmetic damage, a lot of paint chipped off. Amazingly, the paint was chipped off when we pressure washed the hull. The upper sides of the boat look like crap.
“But later next week we will be heading out.”
In the meantime the accident-prone pair has followed the ancient lead of British sailors and taken refuge in the nearby Royal Standard pub to dry their clothes and enjoy some fine Cornish hospitality after seven slightly hazardous months at sea.
“The people who own it are beautiful people and their patrons are absolutely wonderful,” adds Shapiro. “I’m just to tears with the way I have been treated by the Cornish people.”
Should Shapiro and Weise – a retired U.S. Army helicopter pilot from Idaho – make it out of Hayle Harbor in one piece, they aim to sail down to the Canary Islands before crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean. From there they hope to journey up the east coast until they reach Maine in June.
First, they have to navigate their way around Land’s End and Lizard Point, two of the most notorious stretches of water on the entire British coastline. After that they face the even more perilous task of crossing the English Channel – the busiest shipping lane on the planet.
“It is a catastrophe waiting to happen,” says Hayle harbor master Peter Haddock.
“I have this feeling that the emergency services will be out to them again. They just seem to go from one disaster to the next.
“I don’t think that they can see the danger that they are in. They seem to be oblivious to it.
“The main concern is for their safety and for the people who might have to go out and rescue them or sort out their problems.”
Hayle, who was the man who spotted the Nora burning in the harbor, then adds with a wry smile: “A lot of people have told me that I should have just let it burn.”