What a week. From the highs of departing Mooloolaba, my home port, with family, friends and media waving me off, to the incredible turn of events soon after.
I think it's fair to say that there aren't many people left that haven't heard about the incident on Tuesday night. Basically, Ella’s Pink Lady was hit by a 225 meter long bulk carrier just before 2:00am causing damage to the hull, breaking the mast in two and destroying the rigging. Ella’s Pink Lady was running navigation lights and collision avoidance equipment, but I can't go into further details as we currently have three different departments investigating the collision.
The big thing is that I’m safe and well and that although Ella’s Pink Lady has suffered some pretty bad damage, it’s all repairable.
I won’t play it down. It was a pretty scary and dangerous incident. The sound of Ella’s Pink Lady being scraped along the hull of a 63,000 tonne ship isn’t something that I’m likely to ever forget. But at the same time I’m proud of the way the whole team handled the situation. From my first call back to base everything was under control, and looking back it was amazing to see years of planning for such an emergency click into place.
Up to this point I had only ever been able to read about and discuss what to do in such a situation. So in many ways it was really comforting to know that I was able to keep a completely cool head and instinctively know what needed to be done.
After we separated, there was quite a bit of work clearing the deck, which looked a lot like war zone, before starting up the engine and motoring into the nearest port, Southport.
Has it put me off? Well no, I’m as determined as ever, and to be honest if an incident like this had put me off I can’t have been very serious about it to begin with. More than anything it taught us all an amazing amount about how tight the team is and just how prepared I am.
The media and public interest over the collision has been overwhelming. When the news got out (very quickly) I had choppers following me all day, a fleet of boats to escort me in and hundreds of people standing on the break waters. Thank you to everyone who came out to support me.
Although I did not require assistance, the Rescue Coordination Centre (in Canberra) was very supportive and the Gold Coast Water Police did an amazing job of helping me through the mayhem of media and spectator boats to the marina.
Now, it’s all about looking forward. Things are already underway to get Ella’s Pink Lady restored to her original beauty. The support we’ve had here on the Gold Coast and everywhere has been overwhelming, but more on that soon.
It seems that this has only set us back a couple of weeks. We will know for sure over the weekend. Stay tuned.
You can find information from the press conference on the news section of my website www.jessicawatson.com.au
Thanks again to everyone for their interest and support.