The 2017 Challenge Begins

The boat was shipped back to UK following the aborted 2016 attempt. Once home the bottom was cleaned up and completely sheathed in fibre glass to deal with the leaks. Then modifications were carried out to improve stability.

WarehouseFinally sea trials were carried out at Shotley in December 2016 which highlighted the need for further modifications which were carried out.

The boat was shipped out and a arrived in Las Palmas Gran Canary on Feb 3rd, Graham and I flew out on Feb 6th ready to start work. Unfortunately customs clearance was a long drawn out affair and we were not able to get our hands on the boat until the Fri 10th, even then the lorry we had arranged to transport the boat from Las Palmas to Mogan On te Roadharbour was unable to get through until late in the day as it was market day in Megan.

Finally Sat 11th we were able to start work getting the boat stocked and prepared for the trip then finally on Sun 12th she was launched and in the water under the close scutiny of a large group of curious holiday makers.

The planned departure was Wed 10th but that had to be put back due to battery problems and is now scheduled for Thurs or Friday.

launched

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Sun 18.57. A worrying call from Graham, he's been in 35kn winds since 12.00 and shipping water badly. He's hopeing the winds will moderate before to much longer.

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Khaggavisasana Sinks, Graham rescued by helicopter

Following Sundays phone call the situation rapidly deteriated for Graham, the winds continued unabated and the seas built up causing the boat to be constantly awash. Eventually Graham deployed the sea anchor and closed himself into the aft cabin and and tried to ride it out.

Unfortunately in the increasing wind and sea state the line to the sea anchor parted the boat broached and began to be rolled down the face of the mountainous seas and took on more water and began to sink.

Graham broke out the liferaft grabbed some essentials and jumped in. After an emergency call to Falmouth rescue center a Spanish helicopter was despatched and Graham was rescued.

Grahams own account will follow in a few days.

Recue Video

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The Attempt

Leaving on Saturday at midday seemed like a good idea. The past few days of problems were behind me ( flat battery, rudder problems, gas cannisters not fitting, mobile search light not working and seat pad not fitting etc ) or so I hoped.

A large crowd gathered to watch my departure and chear me away.

After 3 hours rowing a half hour for drinks then another 3 hours before food. By 11.00pm the light from the Harbour was sinking away into the distance, 3 hours sleep then another row. The wind blew up in the early hours of Sunday and as soon as I stopped rowing the boat immediately turned beam on so it was time to set the sea anchor for a few more hours sleep and by 8.00am the wind had dropped so it was in with the sea anchor.

As the conditions weren't to bad during the early hours I had set the sea anchor with rope that was available on deck plus the smaller ropes as tripping lines to pull the anchor in. Without thinking I put the recovered sea anchor and line on the fore deck ready for putting away later so I could start rowing immediately.

By 1.00 pm the wind had increased again only this time to 25 knts, by 2.00pm it had risen to 30 knts and it was time to get the sea anchor back in. This was my first mistake, not changing the ropes to stronger ones. At 3.00pm I decided to get the snubber out, three minutes later a large wave curled over the gunnels and put an end to my hot food.

As I remember this was the start of the manual pumping as the cockpit was now half full of water. Unfortunately it was at this time the main float operated pump failed forcing me to deploy the emergency pump that can only be controlled by switching it on and off manually for 10 min every half hour. This meant no sleep until the storm was over.

I had anticipated the Khaggavisanna in heavy seas and knew she was low in the water so I had fitted a deck pump with a float switch which I could leave on all the time but the sea swell had made it useless, the water just cascaded over the side and around the cockpit.

About 7.00 am Monday I realised things were getting desperate as it was now taking 15 min to clear the cockpit every few minutes, I realised the sea anchor had parted when the boat broached and I had been rolled over by a huge wave, I expected her to come upright but she stayed on her side and I knew it was time to leave.

As I got into the liferaft I was heartbroken.

After Thoughts

Arriving back home, I sat down and went through all the things that contributed towards the disaster.

I had on my mind before starting the journey certain worries, one of them and probably the most serious occured on the first sea trials.

I had driven the boat and trailer down to Shotley marina on the east coast to what seamed the perfect spot to test the boat. Situated at the junction of two rivers the Stour and Owell, plenty of sheltered water or so I thought.Back Home

My plan was to row out of Harwich port into the open sea.
Arriving late in the day, as it was completely windless and calm, I decided to launch and row around to the marina and leave the boat alongside the entrance jetty. At 10.00 pm I received an urgent call from the Lock Keeper telling me the boat was sinking. In my absence the wind had picked up blowing staight in toward the jetty, the sea had become choppy and the boat had became trapped, tilted and taken in an enormous quantity of water.
This demonstrated to me that the boat was very low in the water and the rubber flaps to the side of the sloping decks I had fitted which were supposed to drain out, were instead allowing water in.
When I first aquired the Khaggavisanna she was an open boat with no structure above the gunnel. I had decided to fit fore and aft cabins in 12mm ply in keeping with the tried and tested design of my first boat "The George Geary" in which I had made three succesful crossings. This not only added additional weight but also changed the centre of gravity.

I had fitted two pumps the main being float operated was in the bilge, in the event this failed me at the worst possible time, the second pump also float operated was on the side decking and was ineffective due the violent rolling.

The only thing for it I have decided is to use my original boat next year. At least that is only 20 years old not 48.

Graham

 

The Last Challenge - The Source to The Sea - The Khaggavisanna

Toby Wallace Tragedy - The Puffin Transatlantic Row - Contents