“If you’re wondering whether your glass is half full or half empty you are missing the point;
You have a glass and it is refillable”
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Around four weeks ago Wayne almost lost a thumb while poking around the engine; resulting in a trip to casualty in Norway. A few days later our mainsail blew out with a long non-repairable rip. The following day Blue Heeler collided with a cable ferry at Marstrand causing substantial damage to our starboard side.
While every care is taken to avoid disaster, life certainly throws up good and bad situations. Shit happens as they say…
As far as the boat incident, this is how it went down: Our brilliant summer season had ended with a successful trip up to Norway. Blue Heeler was motoring south along the channel through Marstrand hoping to reach Göteborg that afternoon, with only another 250nm or so to reach Flensburg in Germany, where we plan to stay over winter. A stationery ferry was to starboard so we continued heading south on the starboard side of the channel. But from behind the stationery ferry, another cable ferry had entered the waterway becoming visible to us all too late. Attempting to pull up, Blue Heeler snagged the underwater cable, the engine stopped and we collided against the pointy corner of the ferry’s ramp. It all happened so quickly. For the passengers aboard the ferry this was an exciting event; whipping out their iPhones quicker than the ‘Waco Kid’ (photos of the incident likely to be on Instagram by the time we’d even realised what had happened). Wayne managed to start the engine and the boat freed from the cable. Blue Heeler limped to the nearest dock where we assessed the damage. In my mind I pleaded “Please don’t sink, please don’t sink!!”.
Our initial assessment of the damage – a bloody big hole in the starboard hull; a starboard bulkhead split in half; the forward cabin cupboard and locker pushed out-of-place and some broken woodwork. There was no sign of water coming in, but to be certain the boat needed lifting to check for damage. As it was a Saturday, we had to wait until a work day to arrange a lift. The automatic bilge never switched on so that was a positive sign. Wayne taped the hole up with strong Gorilla tape to keep the following day’s rain out.
This was not the way we expected Blue Heeler’s pilgrimage to Sweden to happen! What a bizarre and disastrous coincidence it happened 30nm south of where Blue Heeler was built back in 1997. To get things moving, on the Sunday after the incident I dropped an email to Hallberg Rassy in the hope someone was having a Sunday morning coffee and reading work emails. Luckily it was CEO Magnus Rassy who replied with a few names of local boat-yards that could do the work. Fantastic!
With a break in the weather and the bloody big hole taped up with super-sticky Gorilla tape to keep the water out, we motored 30nm through the islets of the Skagerrak to the north of Orust.
Safely berthed at Vindö Marin that same day a surveyor came out to inspect the hull. We could see where the cable had scored the rudder. Blue Heeler returned to the water for a few days rest.
This time of year is extremely busy for boat-yards as boats this far north are lifted ashore to spend winter inside sheds. The yard-hands are busy removing masts and spend each day hauling boats ashore. Blue Heeler had to wait its turn so we stayed on board, gathered our belongings and prepared to leave our home. In the meantime, Storm Knud caused a raucous outside with winds gusting 50kn+ for about 24 hours, raising the water level more than a metre making it almost impossible to get off for a couple of days.
Blue Heeler was eventually lifted and placed in a large shed for the repair work to begin. With a clearer view of the propeller, we could see where the cable had scored one of the propeller blades.
And for the first time in almost eight years we are homeless! So, where do we go?
Like a couple of refugees, we packed our essentials – backpacks filled with warm clothes, toothbrushes, food, bedding, our bikes, and relocated to a simple one room cabin at a nearby camping ground.
Although the campground has officially closed for winter, the management has welcomed us to stay until the boat is repaired, or until the water pipes freeze up – whichever comes first! There are two bunk beds so we’ve each got a bottom bunk. The nearest town is 10kms away and there is nothing in the immediate vicinity, but the bus system is very good. The cabin has a small fridge, a two-burner stove, a tiny table with four chairs and a gorgeous view out the window. Most importantly is has a heater to keep the cabin cosy. The shower/toilet is not so convenient, about 100m walk away – a cold 5am totter to the dunny seems like reasonable penance for wrecking our boat…
So while we are very disappointed that we’ve injured our beloved Blue Heeler, it’s in capable hands, we have a warm place to stay, Wayne’s thumb is on the mend (sporting a Jolly Roger), and we have a spare mainsail to replace the tatty one.
Our glass is filling up again.
Fingers crossed we will be heading south soon aboard our dear little Blue Heeler.
Until then here’s a picture of happier times just days before in Fredrikstad, Norway.