Fort de France coastguard


26th December 

This morning we had arranged to visit the Fort de France coastguard, we were there for nine. This was an incredibly emotional meeting, we were welcomed inside and then talked through the process of our rescue, the lady in charge was struggling not to cry and it was hard not to just jump up and give her a cuddle. Apparently when it went wrong for us it went wrong for a number of other yachts as well, so they were very busy. Not just that, but at the  same time the year before they had had a similar situation where a yacht was in trouble and they had been unable to save them, so they had just wanted us to survive, to be rescued and be alive. Hearing this I was just grateful for all that they had done and that we were alive. We met with all the staff, thanking them all and then James sat down with them and looked at the boats last AIS position and the drift zone that she was heading in, it is so far offshore and such a massive area, with our luck we are never going to find her and the enormity of the task hits me. We left the coastguard and met up with Kat and Will who were staying nearby and who James was taking to the airport along with Tony. It was lovely to see them again, I think I will always have a huge place in my heart for Will because it’s his face I see when I think about the rescue, when I handed him my children, in that moment the look of concern and concentration on his face and that he didn’t drop them. He had said that as he grabbed each of them it was probably seconds but it felt like he held them for ages and whilst he had Heath in his arms this little boy had just cuddled him back and quietly said thank you to him.   We had a quick drink and then the children and I waved them off and set about getting ferry tickets to St Lucia.  At the ferry terminal we hit a hurdle, as we had no onward flight we weren’t allowed to go to St Lucia, I tried to explain what had happened but no, bugger. So back up to the coastguard who wrote us a very stiff letter explaining our circumstances, they also spoke with the British consulate and border control, we should now be able to go. Back to the ferry and yes it worked, we booked tickets for the following day. We returned to the hotel, James had put a help on a cruisers forum and was being inundated with messages of encouragement and offers of help,  a Welsh guy called John had offered Jim help to find Dove II and to stay aboard his yacht in Antigua, this was it Jim booked a flight for the next day. It was done, even though we didn’t have a clue of what we were doing, we didn’t want to just give up and go home, we had to try to find the boat and keep going and the only way to do this was to split up. We would be saying goodbye to James again, us to St Lucia and him to Antigua, we went out for pizza then crashed early, everyone was exhausted, it had been an emotional few days.

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6 responses to “Fort de France coastguard

  1. I look like I’ve just got off a horse. More like trying to stand upright fighting my sea-legs that were attempting to floor me. Professional and compassionate staff at CROSS, Martinique. Thank you.
    Very hard to say to farewell to Will and Cat when we parted company at the airport. Hope to see you in Cornwall.

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  2. Wow! You are all so incredibly brave. Love hearing your updates. Makes life here in the Quay seem a tad dull. Fingers crossed James finds it. X

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  3. Oh lordy, lordy Fran, what an incredible amount of things have happened and although there’s been a spell of terrible events, there have been so so so many good if not great things too and you have all been amazing, you are a very brave, wonderful family. We are all back here in Newquay reading your posts with open mouthed wonder.
    All best wishes to you all 🙂

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  4. Dear Fran, l’ve been reading your story with amazement, horror and joy, it’s brought me to tears and made me laugh so thankful that you are safe and well. The kids have been amazingly brave and what you and James have gone through emotionally – so very proud of you. Enjoy the rest of your adventure big hugs from us all. Wendi xxxxxx

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  5. We lost our yacht to a fire in the middle of the night in New Zealand in 2013. We didn’t have children on board but it was hair raising and emotional to see her go despite trying to save her. After nearly loosing my husband to pneumonia due to smoke inhalation. We gathered ourselves together, pulled through, managed to get insurance for the cost of an 8 year old boat, sold our house and had Discovery build us a yacht. We would not have got through it but for the generosity and kindness of the New Zealand’s both professional and strangers and of course our many friends and family. Just to let you know we are gunning for you! Clouds have silver linings. We hope you find your yacht. We are in Grenada and sailing back up towards St. Lucia slowly. We will keep a look out. The winds next week, for some strange reason are turning NW. which is unusual. It may keep her off the reefs if she is still floating. Good luck and thoughts are with you.
    Jonathan & Gabbie.

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  6. James, I have posted private message on your Facebook page about how you can track “DOVE II”.

    Us Royal Navy guys need to stick together .

    Best regards David S Wheatley [S/Y “Surabaya Girl” – Portsmouth UK]

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