Maud Fontenoy struggles to jury rig dismasted Oreal Paris

Monday, 12 February 2007

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Drifting in the Indian Ocean, Maud Fontenoy has new hefty adversary, a 10,50 metre boom that she has to move to make a jury rig; it’s a contest between 60 kilos of flesh and 100 kilos of carbon. The sailor is going to have to resort to all sorts of tricks to erect this substitute mast that will enable her to start heading for Reunion Island again.

Yesterday, Maud experienced an almost unreal encounter with a 200 metre German container ship, the Adelaide Express, which had diverted to assist her. The rendezvous was psychologically disturbing, because – after she’d said she didn’t want assistance – she began to wonder if she’d done the right thing. “I was in a bad way this morning.” she admitted “That ship, with all the crew on the deck got under my skin.” Then she focussed on the resolve to get back to her friends on Reunion and the moment of self doubt gave way to action.

After having finished cleaning the deck of all the remnants of carbon from the broken mast and removing the pieces of mainsail still attached to the boom, Maud took advantage of a calm sea to dive to inspect Oréal Paris’ hull, keel and rudder. She admitted to hating doing it and being scared of sharks, but saw only fishes and was relieved to find all well under water.

Rigging up her jury rig is what preoccupies her now. She has the moral support of her family and practical advice from former owner and skipper of the boat Jean Luc Van Den Heede, but where it comes to doing the work she is on her own.

She has to shift the 100 kilo boom to the middle of the boat and, somehow, hoist it into the vertical position. Fortunately, Jean Luc Van Den Heede had worked out a system to do this, before he did his round-the-world voyage and Maud has found the required aluminium part on board. She knows, though, that this is not going to be a quick fix. “It will take a long time,” she said “days, not hours. I’ll have to do a lot of thinking out and find tricks to make up for my lack of brute strength".

Maud has been moved and greatly encouraged by the innumerable messages of support she has received and is determined to beat this obstacle. "I’m going to try to eat something to keep my strength up, then I will go back outside, sit in the cockpit and think about the best way to tackle this. Even if it is millimetre per millimetre, I promise you that I will move this boom."

Oréal Paris is currently drifting at about a knot, but not really in the right direction. "All the more reaon to get on with fixing up a jury rig as fast as I can.” said Maud “Then I’ll be able to head north west again, but I’ll need patience, because it’s going to take several weeks to get to my destination.”

Maud Fontenoy talked from Oreal Paris today. See the video

Last Updated ( Monday, 12 February 2007 )