Photo; Laurent Apollon

The capsize was just the beginning...

Post-salvage, Joyon then had to deal with Hurricane Irene

Friday September 2nd 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

The capsize last week of Francis Joyon's maxi-trimaran IDEC at the start of her attempt on the solo west to east transatlantic record proved to be only the opening chapter of the events in a dramatic week.

Joyon spent 48 hours on board the upturned hull of his 97ft trimaran, as he waited for the salvage operation to start. When Tiger Shark, the tow boat of Miller Marine Services in Port Jefferson, arrived, despite there being three commercial divers on board, Joyon insisted it be he who dived 40m beneath his trimaran in an attempt recover a section of IDEC's broken wingmast.

The upturned trimaran was initially towed to the Montauk, East Hampton, at the entrance to Long Island Sound, where with the help of Christophe Houdet and Jef d'Etiveaud, well known skipper of Robert Miller's Mari Cha giant monohulls, the maxi trimaran went through the delicate operation of being righted.

But then there was the onset of Hurricane Irene...

With the hurricane forecast to strike the eastern seabound of the USA over the weekend, so IDEC was towed 40 miles across to Rhode Island and up into Narragansett Bay, where initially she was moored off the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol. With the onset of hurricane Irene the museum was already on high alert, busy preparing their facility and their collection of more than 100 historic vessels for the powerful winds expected, but still their staff took time to accommodate the maxi-trimaran and her French skipper.

Unfortunately the mooring for IDEC at the museum proved too exposed in the building wind, already gusting to 60 knots, and so at the instigation of solo round the world sailor and local resident Jean-Pierre Mouligne, IDEC was moved once again to a small cove nearby at the Hunt Shipyard in Bristol. And of course on Saturday night, as the hurricane struck (thankfully now degraded to a Tropical Storm), Joyon remained on board IDEC throughout, with 12 mooring lines securing the boat. By Sunday morning the winds had subsided and the worst was over, IDEC saved.

Since the news of IDEC's capsize and the plight of her legendary skipper, so tremendous support has rallied on both sides of the Atlantic including Jef d'Etiveaud, Jean-Pierre Mouligne, Vendee Globe skipper Rich Wilson and Chris Segal and others. A French friend, Laurent Appollon, who Joyon had met briefly when IDEC as moored up in Brooklyn, acted at the go between with the crew of the Tiger Shark.

Even if this adventure ended up quite differently from what he envisioned, Francis Joyon thanks all those who have directly or indirectly participated in this show of solidarity to allow him to save his boat, and in particular the President of IDEC Patrice Lafargue and his assistant Prune Maguet, who instigated the salvage operation. Maguet was regularly in contact with the US Navy and Commander Wagner at the Marine Operations Department, as well as the CROSS Gris Nez in Calais, that co-ordinate rescue operations in international waters.

This week getting IDEC back to France on the deck of a cargo ship is being investigated, although this is no small undertaking in terms of both cost and logistics for a 97ft by 54ft wide maxi-trimaran. As a result Joyon is considering sailing IDEC back to France under jury rig.

"17 metres of the mast were recovered and I have saved enough sails to sail safely," says Joyon. "I still have a staysail, the ORC and a code zero."

Even with a broken boat, Joyon remains an inspiration to us all.

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