Firefly - What happened on Thursday 13th October
Over the next few weeks I will be sending out a number of blogs to provide the highlights of Firefly's travels from Mauritius to Cape Town, South Africa. This is why the blogs stopped.....there has been a lot of work involved in getting Firefly repaired.....
At 1330 on Thursday 13th October Firefly collided with a ship, a 623 feet long bulk carrier en route to Singapore. As with road accidents, it is not appropriate at this stage to provide details of the incident as there are legal proceedings underway. However, most importantly no one was hurt and it is also ok to state that Firefly came off somewhat worse than the ship!
Firefly was heading just south of east and hit the starboard side of the ship, heading north east - an impact angle of about 30 degrees. Firefly was constructed in cedar strip using the west epoxy system with the intention that she would be light and strong. This was very beneficial in the circumstances and she literally bounced off the ship.
Impacting bow first, and then hitting the ship several times before managing to steer away resulted in damage all down the starboard side. From a bent bow sprit and anchor at the front to a damaged radar pillar and destroyed pushpit at the stern. The main impact was however taken by the jib foil and furler, mast, boom and rigging and sails - as Firefly was heeling toward the ship and on the windward side. Post collision the adrenalin was pumping and despite looking like a missile has hit, the hull was completely sound with just cosmetic damage to the toe rail and small sections of the top sides.
The mast came off worst with the spreaders on the starboard side being forced backwards causing the mast to be seriously damaged where the upper and lower spreaders attach. Spinnaker halyards were rapidly rigged to take the load as the cap shroud was parting. Keeping the wind on the port side, effectively helping to keep the rig upright was the safest option and we continued to sail like this for the next day. The wind then dropped away and Firefly made it to Mauritius under engine.
Following a sat phone called to both World Cruising and our first class insurance company, Admiral, things were underway regarding getting Firefly safely to Mauritius and repairs underway. Once berthed in Mauritius, we had excellent assistance from the local rigger, Herve Laurent (ex Vendee Globe Skipper), Taylor Smith Boatyard in Port Louis and Associated Rigging in Cape Town. Firefly was hauled in Mauritius and while the mast was being temporarily repaired, much of the damage to the toe rail and equipment was completed.
Firefly left Mauritius just a couple of days behind the World ARC fleet and caught up in Reunion. She then sailed the tough leg to Richards Bay and onto Cape Town where a new rig was installed by Associated Rigging during the month long stopover. There are a some repair tasks remaining but Firefly is once again looking very good - the support throughout from Admiral Insurance, World Cruising and all of the contractors has been excellent and I really appreciate the efforts of everyone who has been involved.