This is a continuation of my first thread in Meets and Greets. To review, do a search on the boat name of "Sanderling".
To recap, I'm a 68 year old singler handler and the boat is a Cabo Rico
Leaving Trinidad on November 19th of last year I'd island hopped up the Eastern Caribbean
and over to Puerto Rico
. I then went acrossed the Mona passage
to Luperon, DR and onto Mattewtown, Great Ingua Island. Rounding the north end of Long Island
I went over to Georgetown
for a week or so. before I began my fateful passage
At about three am on the morning of April 29th, about 4 miles SE of the Island of Eleuthera, I noticed a boat approaching off of my port bow. I was using my masthead tricolor and I have a radar
reflector. I was on a starboard tack with one reef in the main and the roller furling
set with the staysail furled. The wind
was from the ENE at about 10 to 15 knots with the seas around 3 to 4 feet.
I could see his red navagation light and it appeared that he was going to pass within 300 yards off my port quarter. This was a little close so I shinned my flashlight at him to insure that he saw me.
We passed port to port. When he was about 300 yards off of my port quarter, just to my stern, he suddenly did a turn into me and started to head
for my boat. I disengaged the autopilot
, grabbed the wheel
and did a sharp turn to starboard. His response was to follow my turn, he also turned on his deck
My impression, as he came up along side at a distance of less that 10 feet, was that it was a steel
coastal freighter of about 90 to 100 feet. Dark blue hull
with a square white structure (cabin) on the deck
. There was a man on the deck watching.
We were both now traveling in the same direction. He struck my boat, his starboard side to my port bow. He kept going and did not stop or turn around.
I sat there dumbfounded for a moment before I started to check for damage. No water
inside the boat, a good sign. Cabo Rico
builds a rugged boat! Going forward, the forestay had been broken halfway up the cable, as had the roller furling
, and the remains of the jib
was all over the foredeck. The staysail stay was broken at the lower shackle. The mast
is stepped on the cabin sole
and I quickly rigged a spare halyard
to the bow sprit to help keep the mast
up. Then I took the mainsail
down to further releive the pressure on the mast. There was (is?) a hole in the deck and port side about eight feet from the bow, ten feet or more of caprail was damaged and the hole extends about 18 inches down the side from the caprail and several inches on the deck, the length of the hole where the caprail used to be is about 5 feet. The bowsprit
is cracked. Stainless steel
bits and pieces from the stanchions are all over the place.
I motored over to some 15 foot water
and anchored to await daylight. The following morning I joined a SSB radio
net (first time I've ever used the term break, break) to discuss options. Someone on the net made a few phone
calls and a boat from Davis Harbor, Eleuthera came out to guide me into their Marina. There I made a detailed report to the local Police and it was their theory that it was a Haitian smuggler. It is doubtful that I'll be getting any financial help with repairs
. As you know, singlehandlers are not insured, they may think they have insurance
to keep the bank happy, but without "proper crew", insurance
compaines as a general rule
So I stuffed parts
of the jib
into the hole and ductaped the heck out of it. I was able to remove a shackle from a lower shroud
and re-rig the staysail stay, after hanking on the staysail, and tighting the backstay it appears that I've almost got a sailboat.
I waited for high tide to leave Davis Harbor in the afternoon and anchored in 15 feet of water for the night. I then crossed the Exuma Bank and made my way to a small harbor just to the east of Freeport
where I spent a night and most of the next day. I made a night crossing of the Gulf Stream
. It was more worry than danger
as the weather
I entered the ICW
at Lake Worth
in the Palm Beach area. I decided that I didn't want to live on the boat on the hard
during hurricaine season while someone did fiberglass
work, and there are many more maintance issues that need fixed. Then what? I'll be almost 70, and I'll never recoup the cost of repairs
when I sell the boat. Should I become another singlehandler sitting somewhere on a damaged boat? Or just abandon the boat? Which many unfortunility do.
I donated it to an IRS approved charity whose volunteers keep a portion of the ICW
This old Idaho farm boy is landing on his feet. I'm at my sisters in Vancouver, Wastington with a deposit on an apartment. We go camping and fishing
in eastern Oregon
and Idaho next week.
It is with sadness that I leave the boating
community and all of the great people I've known. The whole sailing thing has been an absloute hoot.
I promised a story and it seems that I've gotten carried away, sorry. Maybe this is helping me to come to terms with the ordeal.
remember to keep at least a foot of water under the kee at all times.
John - from what used to be his sv Sanderling