After our amazing trip down from Vinalhaven, ME to Hope Town, in the Bahamas–a 1450 nautical mile trip–we were beyond excited to finally arrive. This was our first big trip offshore as a family, and we arrived salty, exhausted, and PROUD. The first week was spent getting the boat in order, cleaning her, and getting everything properly stowed and strapped down for the 3-week stretch during which we would leave her to fly home to New England for Christmas.
We arrived back aboard on December 30th, ready to finally kick back and enjoy Hope Town, while also planning our next adventure continuing south through more of the Bahamas. On January 3rd, a 58′ Fleming power boat, 110,000 pounds, backed into Robin Hood’s starboard stern at full throttle. We were not aboard, but we were nearby eating breakfast, and we’ll never forget the crunching sound that alerted us.
A captain on a nearby boat realized something was wrong with the Fleming’s captain and sprinted over, boarding the Fleming and taking control before successfully backing her into the appropriate slip. The captain of the Fleming gave a statement, which the dock master recorded and printed, claiming that he blacked out for 5-10 seconds, forgetting that he had bow thrusters (He had about 12). Essentially he just freaked out, despite his lifetime of experience. We have since heard conflicting stories of his actual prowess at the helm, and the gouge he left in the dock while leaving it later that winter argues against the theory that this was just a one-time blooper.
It is hard to describe the mixture of threatening nausea and tears that ensued. My Italian hot-headed husband was somehow at a loss for proper words. Which was probably a good thing, since we learned almost immediately that the captain of the Fleming was undergoing cancer treatment and had allegedly experienced what some call a “chemo blackout”. In other words, we couldn’t even properly yell at him.
There was an 8-inch-diameter hole punctured in the back of our boat, about 10 inches above the water line. At the very center of the hole, the Fleming had actually punched through the 3-inch solid fiberglass hull. Inside the aft lazarette was a crack that ran the entire width of the boat’s stern. The rub rail was bent where Robin Hood hit the dock, and there was a 3-foot gouge along the pylons where Robin Hood was lifted out of the water and slammed against them.
The ensuing months were spent coordinating insurance surveyors and finally hiring a maritime attorney to help us recover some of the losses (still a work in progress!). We secured a temporary fix and sailed her across to Hinckley Yacht Services in Stuart, Florida, where she will remain until November 1. We miss her dearly, but we will return to her November 1 looking like a new boat and ready to sail on to new adventures.
Sometimes a change in plans has a silver lining. We are devastated about the injuries to Robin Hood, but thankful that this happened in Hope Town and not in Morehead City, NC, or in one of the more remote locations in the Bahamas. We are stuck in what was, really, our primary destination planned for the winter. Leaving the boat in Florida for the summer was initially a bummer, since we love nothing more than sailing Maine and the islands around Vinalhaven all summer. Safety-wise, I also do not feel comfortable being on such a remote island with 4–almost 5–kids and having no way off except a slow and infrequent ferry. Due to this concern, we bought a power boat for the summer so that we will still be able to explore the gorgeous Maine coast, and I can rest easier at night knowing that we can now reach the mainland quickly in case of an emergency. So, all in all, we are considering it a win. A headache-inducing and rather costly win.
Check THIS LINK out to read about all our extensive plans for what we are calling Robin Hood’s “SPA-venture” in Florida.