5th December, 2012. Lilly goes aground on a coral reef off Sugar Loaf Island, NE of Granada. Immediate efforts to get her off fail as current and waves are pushing her further on. She is holed beneath the waterline by repeated impact with the coral, and settles down on her side, the cabin awash with water, the batteries submerged and all power off. The crew are forced to retreat.
Over the following days every effort is made to move her, with the support of the tug ‘Flying Buzzard’, her crew and volunteers from other yachts. A broken tow line and the sudden onset of the worst possible weather - wind gusting over 30 kts - force a retreat.
There has been a stream of positive messages from friends of Lilly around the world. Maybe enough good vibes to float her off…
As it turned out it was not enough.
A full on day doing everything possible - but things kept going wrong: pumps failing, lines breaking, further damage to Lilly in the process - and even the relatively simple task of rolling her onto the other side turned out to be beyond the resources available. Skipper and crew said goodbye to Lilly and steamed away with the tug.
So that looked like the end of the story....
LILLY FLOATS AGAIN!!
Sunday 16th. The port side leaks were relatively easily patched, though the starboard temporary patches had opened up a bit. A large capacity electric pump powered from the tug kept the water level down. They pulled, and she moved: slowly, bumping painfully for a few metres, then moving more easily – and then she was off into deeper water, the masts came upright and she was afloat! Only a foot or so of freeboard, but afloat.
With the pump running and a short tow rope they were on the move: At 22:00 local time they have reached Ronde Island, about 4 miles north. There remains about 10 miles to Carriacou, but the sea is reasonably calm and with the pump running they should be there in two hours plus.
Getting her in close to the slipway, where she was scraping the bottom the last time ,will not be easy – but after what they’ve been through they’ll find a way … She's not there yet, but it's the home run.
BUT WAIT - HOLD THE FRONT PAGE: Having finally retreated and left Lilly to her lonely end it seems the crew are very eager to have another go!
The last attempt was dogged by problems with equipment - pumps, ropes - so maybe it’s worth returning with better equipment and renewed determination for one last effort.
It means waiting for the weather - it won’t be possible for the next few days - but then … the drama and suspense continue.
Apart from the faulty equipment there is now also a problem of the skippers leg - damaged during the last attempt to the point that his role next time is going to be watching, directing and issuing orders. If Captain K was going for the wooden leg look it hasn’t worked this time…
THAT’S IT. Lilly is safe. Arrived in Carriacou on Monday - it will be a couple of days before they can haul out, but they’re alongside and work has begun on the big clean up.
It’s been an extraordinary drama. Incredible drive and commitment from the crew, who were not expecting this, and from the tug, Flying Buzzard, with her crew and volunteers, who have been wonderful throughout. There is no doubt that the tidal wave of support, love, focused energy and positive vibes were part of what carried her back to her proper element.