Photo: A very lively lady indeed...
We both woke instantly from the horrible crunching sound as Sänna
shook suddenly. We were rafted alongside Morning Star
so Leighton and Lynda must surely have sensed something wrong too. Dawn was just about breaking so there was enough grey light for us to dress quickly to race outside to see what had happened... Marie was first up the companionway and out of the hatch. Me, I was still trying to get my trousers unwrapped from around my legs where I'd gotten them all tangled up. I told myself to calm down, if nothing else I needed to dress properly and not look like a fool.
When I eventually got myself on deck Marie had already taken charge of what to me looked like an impossible disaster. Impaled in Sänna's
port-side beam were the bows of a fishing boat, who's skipper stood on the deck holding his head in his hands. Marie was imploring their crew to slowly reverse, to untangle their anchor which was embedded in our rails. I looked and straightaway saw the extensive damage to our capping rails and topsides but at this stage I couldn't see if our hull was damaged or not. My first thoughts were that we were in such a bad place to suffer collision damage, the tiny harbour of Elfin Cove was in a remote location and no place to get things fixed easily.
By this time Leighton and Lynda had also raced on deck, the impact had woken them as I suspected and Henry was up and dressed as well... but he looked totally bewildered and still tired. Marie in her own inimitable control-freak style got everyone to calm down and the fishing boat backed off as her crew pushed her free. Only then did we both realise they had no engine power. The fishing boat's skipper by this time was bellowing at his crew because they were in real difficulties, so I threw them a line telling them to head back to tie alongside before they drifted into the shallows beside the shoreline cliffs only a hundred or so metres away. They were a fair sized boat in bad trouble, the Elfin Cove harbour is extremely tight for space and very compact.
Catching my casting line and then a second line they slowly pulled themselves alongside and rafted on to us securely. The skipper came running up to me full of apologies, he was genuinely distraught explaining their engine had cut out and died as they were manoeuvring from the dock just in front of us - they were reversing in a three point turn to leave the tiny harbour when their engine cut just as they were heading straight for us. What could I say? I felt sorry for him - we've all been there.
The whole bunch of us crowded around to inspect the damage. The fishing boat was fine, their bows and anchor had taken the impact whereas Sänna
herself was extensively damaged. Luckily it was only superficial stuff, our stainless steel guard rails, teak deck capping and rub rails were torn up but, thankfully, our hull was untouched. I breathed a sigh of relief. Marie disappeared below to brew early morning hot tea which is her way of saying let's all relax and get practical. She made fresh coffee for their skipper John because he was still visibly shook up and shaking, he wouldn't stop apologising and Marie said black coffee was the only way to calm him down. What about me? I asked. Of course she reminded me of that time back in Brisbane when I'd drifted Sänna
out of control onto the bows of three tied up sailboats... so then I stayed quiet and drank my hot steaming tea.
It was a gloriously warm sunny morning in Elfin Cove. By now crowds of fishermen had gathered and the general topic was how best to fix things up. John, the skipper of Lively Jane
who'd hit us was adamant that he himself would fix Sänna
and also pay us a large sum in dollars for our troubles. I then thought back to that time in Brisbane when everything had been my fault, how bad I felt then and how the crews of those three Aussie sailboats had found it hilariously funny, how they'd sat me down with cold beer then pulled us off to safety as though things didn't matter much. Even then we'd all set too to fix things so that we could sail onwards to New Zealand. Right now things were no different.
Once the heat of the situation died down I realised our damage wasn't that bad and everything could be patched up relatively easily. John set too with his tools and I could tell straightaway that he knew a thing or two about boats. An hour or so later everything looked much better except for our teak capping damage, I told him not to worry... I said it was just battle damage, that all boats had war wounds but he gave me five hundred bucks anyway. I gave him two hundred back but he wouldn't take it, so I decided that I liked John enormously and under normal circumstances we'd probably be good drinking buddies.
The damage was just another battle scar and nothing much. Sänna's
covered in healed up wounds anyway, each one a memorable story and a reflection of our long voyage so far. We're a long way from home and each time when I walk past our damaged capping rail I'll well remember Lively Jane
and Elfin Cove... that's probably why it'll never get fixed. Surely the three hours spent drinking hot tea in the morning sunshine, with all the fishermen ambling over with their smiling laughter and John whatever-his-name filling my fist with dollars that I wouldn't take, will be something we'll think about whenever we remember magical Elfin Cove.
Please visit our SV Sänna website for more details of our circumnavigation voyage from the UK. Also at www.facebook.com/SV.Sanna. Like our Facebook page if you'd like to receive more news about our sail adventure. You can contact us here.