Yesterday we received word from Bruce Balan, aboard the Cross 46 Migration, that a catamaran had collided with an unidentified floating object (UFO) 10 days out of Hawaii while on a voyage to the Pacific Northwest. Bruce included a few links, and this is what we’ve been able to put together.
JollyDogs is a 2008 Seawind 1160 catamaran — full-time home and cruising vessel of Mark and Isabel Hardesty since 2014. Most recently the couple had embarked on a crossing from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest. They did their research, consulted with several experienced ocean-crossing sailors including Latitude 38 contributor Ronnie Simpson, who has completed dozens of crossings from the US island state to the mainland, in his role as delivery skipper for returning Transpac Race boats. And of course they’d read Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Routes. But regardless of all the preparation and heeding of well-placed advice, it’s almost impossible to prepare for the unknown — partially submerged objects, such as shipping containers, navigational markers that have come adrift, even perhaps abandoned sailboats. Whatever was floating in JollyDogs‘ path that evening left a large hole in the vessel’s starboard bow.
Mark described the damage in JollyDogs‘ blog on PredictWind: “The guy was in the water trailing at the piece of bow structure it’s attached to. Kind of in disbelief I retrieved the assembly to the deck and then took a look at the starboard lower bow, or at least where there used to be one. Pretty much gone, with the seas pounding against the flat collision bulkhead about one meter aft of the bow.” The couple’s immediate response was to heave to and strategize their next several moves.
They alerted the US Coast Guard, who remained on standby and informed the sailors that there were several ships in the area that could divert to assist if necessary. They were also able to connect with “the Seawind factory folks and some rather smart pals in the aircraft mechanics and composites fields,” to determine if a repair could be enacted at sea.
“We inventoried all our repair materials today, brainstormed with the wizards, and tomorrow morning we’ll embark on the mission of reinforcing the collision bulkhead forward of the starboard head,” Mark wrote. “Once we complete the inside repairs and know how much epoxy we’ve got left, we’ll do our best to create and install a fairing where the bow used to be in an effort to reduce the water pressure against the collision bulkhead. Next we’ll try and fashion a fabric bow bra and secure it to the structure. That’ll reduce the water trying to get in and slam[ming] against that bulkhead. Lastly we’ll see how much floaty stuff we can get inside the cavity where the bow used to be. Air-filled things and closed cell foam will hopefully fill much of the space keeping water down and damping the impact.”
On Friday, July 9, two days after the collision, JollyDogs was looking in better shape and her crew were hopeful that they would reach Port Townsend, where they had scheduled a haulout and repairer for July 29.
“It’s been a rather busy day. Fabricating reinforcement braces, cutting up a diesel jerry can to act as a bow structure, bolting it partly on, all in all we earned our dinner. The weather is chilly and we’re surrounded by fog at times, so getting the fiberglass surfaces we need to bond the epoxy in proper condition has been impossible due to condensation. We finally got the surfaces down to the same temperature as the outside environment, so tomorrow we’ll hopefully have dry surfaces to sand and bond to.
“We also did our best to fashion a crude bow section using some bits of fiberglass sheet and a plastic diesel jerry can. We got that partly bolted on today before the clock ran out. Hopefully wrap that up tomorrow along with the fiberglass work. A nearby yacht named Lady Amber heard of our plight and is proceeding in our direction; we spoke with them on SSB tonight and hope to see them when we awaken in the morning.”
We can only wish these two resourceful sailors the very best of fair winds and following seas as they continue their voyage, “carefully and a good bit more slowly,” across the Pacific.
JollyDogs‘ most recent blog post, dated July 20, indicated that Mark and Isabel are still afloat and their repair is holding. You can read more about their current status here.