DOWN, BUT NOT OUT caused to the interior. beautiful down there." "As soon as we had the leaking halfway As Holger explains, under control, the drums were released there was a great sense one by one. Eventually the boat was floatof urgency: "We were ing on her own, still heavy in the water concerned that over the first night gear would float away. Plus, bringing the heavier items up "The water was perfectly would help lighten the clear," recalls Tracy, "and as load for the salvage opodd as it sounds, she really eration we were organizing." did look beautiful down there." Refloating this 72-ton classic was no small and with at least one large pump running feat. In addition to the all the time." helping hands of friends, a salvage company was contracted and heavy eanwhile, other friends had been equipment was made searching for a shipyard within a reasonavailable by local marine able towing distance. The best choice was resources. a small yard at Mangaratiba, some 30 "The strategy to raise miles away, which caters to local fishing the boat to the surface involved divers, boats. heavy strops around the boat and about "The tow to Mangaratiba was done in 130 empty 55-gallon plastic drums," retwo stages, over two days, and also inports Holger. "They were maneuvered volved a second go with a diver and uninto place, partially flooded and sunk, derwater epoxy." and then filled with air from a compresAlthough relieved to have arrived, they sor." had to wait several more days for the tide Once afloat, suspended by the drums, to rise high enough so that the battered the hull was slowly towed — with decks hull could be hauled out. They finally still awash — to a nearby island which did get her safely offered shelter into a cradle, free from an impendfrom the threat ing threat of bad of sinking again, weather. Moving but, clearly, no at a snail's pace, part of the prothey eventually cess was easy. arrived safely, "We could not get late at night. her fully onto dry The following land since the caday, divers beble to the cradle gan the process broke two times. of sealing up the The equipment area where most they are using is of the water was hard to believe," coming in, bereports Holger, tween the mas"but the workers sive lead keel seem quite capaand the keelson, ble and are hardusing caulking working. They material and obviously know underwater ephow to repair oxy. More drums boats, were then posi- After months of hard work, Holger was a happy guy as wooden tioned in order to he and his adventurous young crew left from Sausalito albeit more in the framework of balance the load, in 1979, on the first of four circumnavigations. local fishing boats (rather than yachts)." so she could be pumped out. Two portable commercial pumps driven by gasoline engines did the job. t this writing, Holger and Tracy "Slowly, she came up and the decks are proceeding on an 11-step process began to dry," says Holger. "There was that they've outlined to get the old girl still a lot of water inside and we could not sailing again. Although her interior is yet see the devastation the sinking had
Decked out with new sails and fresh varnish 'Lord Jim' was in fine form during the memorable 1978 Master Mariners Race.
Then, shortly before she slid completely under, they heard the sharp sound of breaking timber. "It stabbed into our hearts," recalls Holger. But they soon realized it had only been the tree ashore to which the bow line was tethered. Lord Jim then slid quietly to the bottom, which was 25 to 45 feet deep, rolled about 30° onto her wounded port side and came to rest. From the moment of impact, less than 20 minutes had passed. "The masts were sticking out of the water and she looked beautiful — even under water," recalls Holger. "We knew that we had to do everything to bring her back up. She couldn’t just die like that."
he next two days were filled with a frenzy of activity. Holger, 69, and Tracy, 57, wasted no time in developing a plan to refloat and relocate their longtime home. Literally all of the couple's friends in the local sailing community offered their assistance, and a local dive operator offered to help remove the gear stowed on deck such as sails, the dinghy and the liferaft, free of charge. Tracy, who is a master diver, dove below decks to retrieve some of the couple's more valuable possessions, including an original set of Alden's construction plans from 1936 which had been safely stowed in a plastic tube. "The water was perfectly clear," recalls Tracy, "and as odd as it sounds, she really did look Page 144 •
• April, 2007
LORD JIM ARCHIVES
The April 2007 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.