Fri & Sat 23rd & 24th May
Friday was a bit of a nothing day as we scurried around getting jobs done although quite a few had to be left until the last minute as ever, so it was with an air of anticipation and some excitement that we went off to bed with the ship due to dock just 150 metres away on the cruise ship terminal around midnight.
You can imagine therefore our huge disappointment on waking to find a big empty space where the ship was supposed to be. We fired up the laptop to discover the ‘Thorco Isadora’ was still some 20 miles away. She finally arrived and docked some 11 hours behind their latest plan which left us looking at the strong possibility of another night afloat along with the frustrations of having only the night before booked a non-refundable hotel room by the airport.
We let them get sorted and as soon as we saw activity on deck, I phoned the Loadmaster to find out what their plans were now and what was in store for us. His reply did rather surprise us, as for some as yet unexplained reason, he had been instructed by his London office to ensure that if nothing else he was to load Serafina and another English yacht today. He told us that they were going to be busy all day preparing the decks with all of the cradles and equipment, but that they would pause this at 4pm to load the other yacht followed immediately by us at 5 pm. This we felt was a good result and we immediately set about all the final jobs to be done.
The fridge was emptied into the eagerly waiting arms of Patti and James on La Adventura and come 4 pm we were completely ready and waiting.
By 4.30 pm we were concerned by the non-appearance of the other yacht and again telephoned the Loadmaster to see if there had been (another) change of plan. He claimed that they had no idea where this other yacht was and were trying to get in touch with it and that we might have to wait another hour. Being of a suspicious mind we then telephoned the number we had in the loading schedule for this other yacht and immediately got through to the owner who was sat on board blissfully unaware of any of this! I gave him the Loadmaster’s phone number and we were then able to watch him as he then scurried around and finally lifted his anchor and motored over to the side of the ship. The time now was 5 pm and nobody was now in sight – Tea Time!! It seems that Russians have rules too.
So it was 5.45 pm before they called him over and began the process of lifting the yacht onto the deck and so nearly 7 pm before we finally edged our way alongside.
The Loadmasters and crew were really good, very careful and diligent as they went about the very difficult process of trying to lift a yacht using just a pair of slings from a single spreader bar. We had already removed our backstay as this is essential but as the diver plopped into the sea to guide the slings under our keel, darkness fell.
The process was achingly slow as this crew have not done this before and so the English Loadmasters (they are flown out to do all of this) have do most of it themselves as they patiently also explain everything to the officers running the show. But delicate and minute instructions to the crane driver perched seemingly miles above us had to pass from English to Russian although thankfully ‘stop’ did not have to be translated. We later discovered that the crew is made up of Russians and Ukrainians and so there are some tensions….
Serafina was raised and lowered some 4 or more times as they found that the slings were not perfectly placed and we were bow down or canted over to one side, but everyone was calm and patient and eventually we were raised up the side of the ship. They paused the lift once we were at deck level so we could transfer our heavy bags on to the ship and get off ourselves and then up she went and was swung over to the far side of the deck and then in a process that took a further half an hour she was very carefully positioned, chocked and then strapped firmly down the deck.
We were now allowed back on board to put the backstay back on and switch of the electrics etc. and with some assistance from the very pleasant and helpful crew we found ourselves standing on the dockside around 8.30 pm, all alone with the clear advice not to wander off as the area was far too dangerous – so we walked to the security gates and summoned a taxi that soon appeared and whisked us off to the airport hotel.
Here Sarah was able to finally sit down with her IPad and find and book us a flight home online – as we simply could not risk doing this a moment sooner. And the good news is that we fly at around midday today (Sunday) to Heathrow, via New York arriving on Monday morning. Hire car booked and so home for lunch in Worcester – I mean what could possibly go wrong?