July 11, 2006

By Nigel Sadler

The day started at 7am with a great breakfast. The waves last night meant many had not had a good nights sleep. At 7.30 the daily briefing took place. The priority for the morning was to inflate the three project crafts as well as the craft belonging to Caribbean Explorer 1 (see image below). As usual the role of ‘flotilla captain’ fell to Mitch and he and his team quickly got to work. Surprisingly this went with ease and by 10.30 all the project crafts were in the water with engines fitted and by 11 they were joined by the Caribbean Explorer 1 craft.

Mitch and Levardo volunteered to try and locate the small passage through the reef just east of Breezy Point that had been used so successfully in the 2004 season. Luckily for them, Nigel and Angelie were stationed on watch and saw as a freak wave flipped the boat. Two rescue boats, crewed by Johnny, Dan, Reece and Randy, were immediately dispatched to find Mitch and Levardo on the upturned vessel. They were taken onboard the rescue boats whilst the upturned boat was dragged back.

Luckily Mitch and Levardo were none the worse for wear and were soon back in the water and quickly uprighted the boat (see image below). The engine was recovered and after some careful coaxing, Jean Francois (JF) and Reece brought life back into it.

Whilst all this was happening more drama unfolded as one of the rescue boats started to drift off and another vessel went to bring back the wayward boat.

A well deserved lunch was then eaten and Donald Keith provided the team with an update. It was now decided to move towards Jackson point to see if the cut to its east was passable. Unfortunately the seas were even rougher here, Levardo Talbot’s comment ‘This is ugly’ summed up what we were seeing. At about 4pm it was decided to call it a day on trying to find a way through the reef, and Caribbean Explorer 1 was taken eastward to find the smoothest water for the benefit of the team.

At 5pm we arrived off Thatch Cay to find the sea much calmer, protected by Drum Point. Mitch and Levardo again volunteered to find a way over the reef and amazingly they had marked a passage and returned to the boat in 30 minutes. The rest of the team continued to prepare equipment whilst Don and Randy rigged the inflatable crafts so it would be easier to pull them alongside Caribbean Explorer 1 for loading tomorrow.

What started out with potential catastrophe, had been full of frustrations ended on a high note and the team retires looking forward to getting the project really underway tomorrow.