Disaster Strikes as Maldague Heads for Jamaica
Arnaud Maldague has had no shortage of problems as he attempts to complete the sailing portion of his quest through the Caribbean. His latest setback is the most dramatic yet.
Maldague had been sheltering his boat behind the island of Little Cayman waiting for better weather. On January 12 the winds dropped down to around 20 knots and the seas calmed slightly; he decided to set off for Jamaica, prepared for around 40 hours of sailing.
Harnessing the easterly winds, he made great progress on the first day. On January 13, he felt confident enough to get some short bursts of sleep, waking up every 40 minutes to check everything was going smoothly.
The next morning, he slept a little longer, before waking up with a start when a loud crash rocked the boat. He scrambled out of his cabin to find that his mast had seemingly vanished. It had snapped in the middle and was now hanging overboard, tearing a chunk out of the boat as it went. He set about salvaging whatever he could from the mast, an arduous job that took hours.
Eventually, he had to detach the remaining rigging and let the mast itself sink. He called his father in Belgium and a friend on Grand Cayman to relay the news. He was almost exactly halfway to Jamaica, but with only his weak motor to propel him, and the wind and waves against him, he had to head back towards Grand Cayman.
After an exhausting 36-hour journey, he successfully docked on Grand Cayman. But his troubles didn’t end there. Just two days later a storm rolled in and he needed to move the boat to a safer mooring. Agonisingly, his motor gave out midway through the journey and he was left to drift for three hours awaiting rescue. The police arrived to tow him to safety and Maldague will now assess his options. Can the boat be repaired, or will he look for a newer, more reliable option?