Posted By RichC on April 20, 2007
Who would have ‘thunk’ that a world circumnavigating sailor with over 30,000 sailing miles under her keel would face the storm of her life only days from home? (I’ll include a summary from Brian Oatley helping her into Bermuda below) If you’ve been following my posts on Donna Lange, or checking in over at the DonnaLange.com site being updated regularly by Neil VanGundy, you’ll understand what an ordeal this storm has been for ‘any’ boat sailing off the east coast of the United States these last few days. Thankfully, Donna is safe and sleeping … I can only imagine how the constant battering of the wind and waves, along with cold, fatigue and gear breakage would put fear of God into even the most hardened sailor.
According to friends, Donna plans on resting a bit in Bermuda before ‘flying’ back to Rhode Island … she has some friends to meet and eventual repairs to make on Inspired Insanity before sailing back to Rhode Island. For those who have followed her recent trials from my posts, thank you for your prayers and emails of concern. She is an amazing woman and has touch many with her adventurous spirit and compassionate heart.
Friday, April 20 – 09:30 EST from BRIAN OATLEY, BERMUDA
Just to let you know you may not hear from Donna until Friday because she is sleeping like a baby at my mother’s house. This should fill you in on the recover events:
When I left this morning to escort Donna into the harbor, I was taking my Boston Whaler out to meet her. But when I was preparing to leave, I got a call from Bermuda Radio saying she had not been able to start her engine. I had to pirate a fishing vessel belonging to my friend and neighbor, Stan Harris. Stan picked up his friend Chris Lamb to help and the three of us set out to tow Donna into the harbor. As we departed, Bermuda Harbor Radio called to ask if we had left yet. They had just spoken to Donna on VHF and she sounded frantic. I replied that we were just leaving the marina. Next came a phone call from Donna which I could barely understand. She gave her position and talked about how tired she was. I told her that we would be there in about ten to fifteen minutes.
We spotted Donna less than half a mile from the sea buoy (Spit Buoy) sailing along quite nicely with her jib up, in 20kts of breeze. We pulled up along side of her and there she stood in the cockpit with the biggest grin on her face. Although she was worn and tired, she seemed to have a look of relief and satisfaction. She made it ! !
As we towed Donna toward the harbor entrance, it seemed as though the air temperature rose from the cool damp breeze of the morning. Donna sat on the bow of aptly named “Inspired Insanity” looking quite relaxed enjoying the scenery as we entered the harbor. As we cruised through the visiting yachts anchored in the harbor; the crews jumped up from the cockpits or down below to greet her as she went by.
She had to be taken to the ‘customs & immigration’ dock so we brought her alongside the fishing boat and made a perfect docking. My father, Bernie, was on the dock to catch the lines while my mother and two tourists snapped pictures. Three crew from a catamaran anchored in the harbor were there to greet her. One of the crew was wearing a “Red Dress Cap” and I new what that meant. He is a friend of one of her friends that has come to meet her on her behalf. I gave Donna a big hug and then helped her onto the dock. She was near tears as she hugged everyone. She then became very bubbly and she glowed as she related some of the difficulty she encountered. A short story of the ups and downs, highs and lows. She said that she felt more tired than she had ever felt before.
At this point Chris, the friend of Stan (the owner of the fishing boat) produced a few cold beers. At that point it just seemed like the perfect thing to do. All of us just sat on the dock, toasted Donna, and drank the beers (my parents don’t drink). Donna related her experience and even fielded some questions from curious cruise ship passengers that wandered onto the customs dock. Donna then went into the customs office to clear in. Her new friends from the catamaran walked over to the supermarket (Somers Supermart) where they have a food bar and brought Donna back a very good meal. We all sat there on the dock chatting while Donna polished off the first real cooked meal. Finally we pushed off the dock and towed “Inspired Insanity” to the St. George’s Dinghy & Sports Club.
There was no press there to meet her, but I think that may have been better for Donna. Her arrival at the dock was, at first, a little emotional for her. The small group of people on hand made her feel much more relaxed and comfortable.
Oh, one more thing of interest. Earlier in the morning, before Donna arrived, an Open 50 footer, racing around the world single-handed, was towed in the harbor. Apparently he had come through the same storm that Donna came through. His boat is a mess, his sails are so tattered and tangled around the rigging that he had to hire someone to go up the mast and cut the sales away. Strangly enough, Donna’s little Southern Cross came out looking quite good, with everything intact but the self stearing. Tomorrow the Open 50 will join Donna’s boat at the dinghy Club.
I must go now because my lack of sleep last night has caught up with me.