Monday 31 Oct
I had arranged with my friends to meet very early the next day at Bottoms up 'Carigues Bar and Restaurant'.
We were going to attempt to board GL. I needed my documents, and most important my insurance information to authorise a salvage of GL. We arrived on the inside of the reef about 07:45 and I attempted to walk out to her. The waves however were too much for me to reach her, I kept getting knocked over, I already had fire coral stings on my feet from the previous evacuation in bare feet the night before, I didn't fancy getting anymore, but did on my hands trying to steady myself in the surf.
I had no phone or numbers and needed communications. This was only achieved at about 13:30 to late to find info in the uk it being 17:30 there.
My sister went to my house to get the documents required. I wouldn't receive this until the next morning. Meanwhile I put the word out to those I knew here as to my predicament.
That night saw me with my mind basically shot away. With everyone telling me 'that boats don't last very long there, 2 hours 6 hours, some a bit longer', I was trying to come to terms with the fact that GL just can not survive 2 nights and a day on that reef, by everybodys reckoning.
Rang UK very early and speaking with my sister found that we had both missed receiving insurance renewal info due to both our computers having been hacked last year. I was now on my own.
I went to the office (Bottoms Up Bar), put my professional hat on and sat at a table, with a coffee, in front of me a pile of contact numbers. After seeing my mast still there in the distance I assumed the boat was still hanging in there, so rang the towing company to arrange to be taken to the boat to retrieve a few personal items and for them to give me an estimate on how much cash, if possible to extract her from the reef. I was taken to the boat at noon, they had already put a pump on board and were seeing if she would pump out. They helped me across the reef and I got aboard. I retrieved most things I was looking for and they put this in a small boat. After dumping this back ashore I returned for the prognosis. They gave a couple of scenarios and knew I had no insurance. It was very expensive. But sitting alone in the tow boat, looking at GL, who it seemed to me was doing her best to stay in one piece, I decided I had to at least get her off the reef, even if she sank in deep water. They waited with the cell phone ready to call the shot while I looked at the forlorn aspect and sight of GL high on the reef. "I'll commit to a try" I said. A call was made and a bigger tow Boat immediately left Tortola BVI bound for our position and the process swung into action. It took time for Huskeys salvage tug to arrive, then pumps were manhandled across the reef and set up aboard. A bridle was made up so both boats could do the pulling when there ropes were shackled up. They were allowing me to watch but said I could stay in the dingy when they went round to seaward to do the towing. All was ready and approx 1600hrs they were ready. I asked if I could come with them and they said yes. So about 1610hrs all 4 pumps running the pull began. Both boats slowly applying more and more power. I had been given there mobile phone to take pics. GL wasn't moving yet then more power then more power, I saw a swell wave running in and as it hit GLs bow she suddenly leaped upright and catapulted foreward towards the deep water. I was saying " come on girl come on girl" a second swell came in, she did the same again. And again and she was off. WWWOOOWWWW. It had taken maybe five minutes tops. They decided to tow her immediately round the point into 8 feet of calm sandy bottom water to assess how many holes needed patching, and how many air bags it would take to keep her afloat. They did this and at 1640 told me amazingly there were no holes on the starboard side, and only one small pump was keeping her afloat. With a bit of persuasion, I convinced Indipendent boat yard manager at 1645hrs to arrange an emergency liftout of GL. He said be quick you only gave me 15 minutes to stop my men going home. 25 minutes after that I had been towed through the moorings with people cheering and was being lifted out on the travel lift. What a result. I was shell shocked and when all secure went to the bar for a beer. I had enough adrenalin in my blood to fly to the moon.
More about the assessmeant of damage later, but for now the hull isnt to badly damaged, 8 or 10 frames have been cracked, a lot of surface deep scuffing marks, but how on earth did a 75 year old survive 48 hrs battered by the swell on such a trrible reef?