A Bit of a Setback on Dirona

Yesterday evening, Jennifer got hit by a snapping line from the super yacht on the dock beside us. The line hit hard enough to break Jen’s clavicle (collar) bone. It’s now a bit of a mess with the bone broken through, displaced and overlapping. The doctors are confident it will heal well but I know from having done the same thing myself in the past, it’ll take a month and will leave a big knot of bone when it does heal.

Clearly it could have been much worse but it’s still hard to feel lucky. We can’t SCUBA dive and pretty much all jobs around the boat are difficult and a few just aren’t possible.¬†Simply landing and leaving docks will now require more care.

In this situation, the 150′ boat beside us was moving moderately¬†in the surge. We were watching the 197′ super yacht Slipstream arrive. It was an impressive docking with the nearly 200′ Slipstream just barely managing to clear the 150′ Four Jacks while staying off the rocks that mark the edge of the channel, rotate the stern around, and then back into the slip. As the crew of Slipstream were tying off there was a medium swell moving through the marina and all the boats were moving somewhat more than normal. As the super yacht Four Jacks moved around in the swell, it was apparently putting incredible load on it’s inflatable fenders. These fenders are massive and I suspect what happened is one was pinned against the dock while the boat was rolling away and it stretched out the fender line to its limits. The fender top mounting pulled off the boat and sling-shotted towards the fender, propelled by the fender line nearing it’s stretch limit. I suspect the fender was also stretched out before the line let go, delivering yet more energy into the gear that snapped off the boat and accelerated towards the ground. When it hit Jennifer standing on the dock below, it snapped her collarbone. I would have never thought it possible that a fender line could pack enough force to break a bone but it does show the energy that heavily loaded lines can pack.

This morning, we will take stock of the limitations that this injury brings and figure out how to manage them. It is surprising what an impact something like this can have on a big boating adventure. I’m confident we will develop new systems to work around this but we may need to make some trip routing changes as a consequence of the situation.    

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84 comments on “A Bit of a Setback on Dirona
  1. Hi Guys = Just managed a visit to the site….Linda and I send our get well wishes to Jennifer, although we know that you guys will not let this deter you…a little creativity and you will be fine. We met Jennifer’s friend Judy a few weeks back they were doing a delivery. On your recommendation they booked a tour with is and spent the day touring the Island. Keep well and we will chat soon!

    • That’s great to hear that Judy had time to do spend a day with No Limits Travel on St. Helena. I’ll bet she had a great time. We’re in St. Lucia now and expect that Judy will be in this area in the near future. You are right on Jennifer’s arm. She is adapting well and we aren’t letting it slow us down much at all. All the best to you and Linda.

      • Brady S Rischman says:

        Great to hear your travels, I have loved reading/ following along with you guys. Hope everyone still in Good spirits!
        And Thank you for sharing

        From Richmond Virginia
        With Love
        Brady S Rischman

  2. ed stead says:

    Here we are very sorry to see what happened to Jennifer. Having been sidelined from our own adventure by an injury two years ago, we have enjoyed and appreciate your blog.

    • Thanks for the well wishes Ed. Today we plan to leave Barbados and head to St. Lucia so we’ll see how we do in getting off and on docks over the next couple of days. Our first focus is to be super careful since the shoulder is a bit fragile at this point.

  3. Jeff Barr says:

    Hi James and Jen, sorry to hear about this setback, but happy to hear that you are on the mend. Smooth sailing!

  4. Deepak Singh says:

    Oh No!

    Like everyone else, I hope there is a speedy recovery. As someone with limited practical knowledge of anything maritime, I can’t even imagine how difficult it must make things for the rest of your journey. But I suspect you’ll pull through with some creativity.

    Good luck!

    • Thansk Deepak. We slowed down a bit, caught up on a few things around the boat to allow Jennifer’s shoulder time to stabilize a bit and then, starting tomorrow, we’ll rent a car go exploring Barbados.

  5. Gary Gaunt says:

    You guys break me up. :)
    “Jennifer got tired of me complaining about still not having found an alternative that I liked better than My Tracks so she got the open source to Google MyTracks and built MvDirona My Tracks. It’s GREAT.”

    I’m still struggling to program our old VCR and you guys blithely whip up an app to fix a problem. :) Awesome it is.

  6. Thor Nolen says:

    There is opportunity in this somewhere. Look forward to hearing about it once discovered. Thanks for logging the adventures and a speed recovery to Jennifer!

  7. Kate Humphries says:

    I’m so sorry to hear what has happened Jennifer. What a crazy random thing to happen! I was just looking down to the anchorage where I first spotted you on Sydney Harbour, and thinking of you. Rest up and have a speedy recovery. Warmest wishes, Kate

    • We were recently reflecting on some of the high points of the trip and one of them was arriving into Syndney and anchoring alone in Farm Cove beside the Iconic Syndney Opera house. It was particularily fun to get a picture of Dirona from you shortly after arriving.

      Jen’s shoulder is sensitive to any motion but appears to be stabilizing so we’ll probably start exploring Barbados early next week. All the best from Dirona.

  8. Paul Shultice says:

    That’s a real bummer James. I hope for the two of you that Jennifer’s injuries allow you both the rest and recuperate you guys need after that long haul.

  9. Steve R says:

    Ouch! Get well soon Jen, just get into Caribbean time, relaxing and a few Rums should do the trick.

  10. Gary Gaunt says:

    James I’m no expert on Maritime Law but in aviation if there was an injury like that it would be classified as an accident rather than an incident and certainly attract the attention of the regulator or authority requiring an investigation from the safety rather than the liability viewpoint. I am sure there are some lawyers hereabouts and I know it is not your intention to make a meal of it but IMHO there are some basic courtesies and formalities to be observed by the offending vessel. I suspect that the crew are under instructions to zip it in the interests of potential liabilities and fear of a negligence issue. If you have not done so already it may be smart just to register the issue with a local maritime lawyer, you never know where these things, heavens forbid, can go south.
    Neither is it something I would discuss on an open forum like this.
    Warning this game is highly addictive.
    http://candycrushsaga.com :)

    Best to Jennifer, with my left shoulder joint needing replacement I share her discomfort.

    • We’re focusing on quick recovery and learning to operate around the restrictions of the fracture but I generally agree with your assesment of the situation. Thanks for your thoughts Gary.

  11. Paul Williams says:

    Really sorry to hear you got hurt. Take good care of yourself and get well soon!!!

  12. Kim Knuttila says:

    Very sorry to hear of this! (big “get well” wishes Jen!) So, 2 of my cycling buds have done similar work on the collar bones by falling in the forest — apparently a common break among off road cycling — and both need to have a pin inserted to get the bones straight. (just saying!)

    Anyway, as others have observed, you’re in a pretty good area for a “work slowdown” ;-), so from us northerners, heal well!


    • Great hearing from you Kim and, yeah, we are doing fine. After 10,000 nautical miles in 6 months, it’s kind of fun to have a good excuse to relax and catch up on things. All is good on our end and we wish you, Joy, and the family all the best.

  13. Tim Sharpe says:

    Get well soon Jennifer!

    Thank you both for your wonderful blog, I really hope this does not effect your plans too much. Plenty of time left in the season. Stay positive!

    Four Winds should be renamed Bad Karma.

    • We are enjoying Barbados and I’m getting some caught up on work while Jennifer works though a computer project typing with one hand. In a few days, we expect Jennifer’s break will be stable enough to start travelling around Barbados and sight seeing.

  14. Mark Agee says:

    So sorry to hear of your misfortune, Jennifer.

    Please count me among those that have travelled around the world with you, following your adventures and experiences through your blog. (Thanks for taking the time and effort to produce it!)

    I wish you a speedy recovery, and better days ahead.

  15. Michael says:

    Awful. We are so sorry to hear about the accident.
    Was the fender top mounting something like this? http://www.fendequip.com/manufacture/fender-hooks/
    Michael & Frances N40#52

  16. Yair says:

    After months of time consuming professional obligations I was relishing an opportunity to poke through your blog and catch up and lo: Jennifer you get hurt! Not the blog entry I wanted to read. I wish you a speedy but full recovery. Being as active and in shape (ship shape) as you are will surely help.

  17. Etienne Grobler says:

    So sorry to hear about this misfortune – just would not have seen that coming. Let me add our voices to the chorus of well wishes and speedy recovery. Slowing down where you are could prove to be a great experience.

    Thankful that it was not far more catastrophic and that you were not in a more remote and less accommodating location. You are fortunately now only very short hops to most amazing destinations.

    • You are 100% right Etienne. This is a bit of a disaster for us as it makes much of what we wanted to do in the Carribean no longer practical and, in some cases, no longer possible. But, in many ways we were lucky. The damage could have been far worse, we could have been in a secluded location where the only way out is a long ocean passage, and some places we visit don’t have high quality radiography facilities.

  18. Rod Sumner says:

    J & J:

    Very sorry to read of your setback. As stated it could have been much worse. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    Taking the happy route, the accident happened in a very hospitable clime and hopefully the convalescence time should pass more quickly!

    Rod Sumner

    PS Was the fender line nylon or a similar fabric that would stretch and store ‘energy’ before breaking? I have always used non stretch ropes to prevent this phenomenom where ever possible

    • Thanks for the support Rod. You were also asking for more detail on the accident. It was a fender line and I think much of the explosive stretch came from the fender being stretched. My guess and I didn’t see the beginning of this so it is a guess at this point is the boat was pushed hard into the dock and effectively pinned a massive 6′ high fender. Then the Four Jacks rolled away from the dock in the surge while the fender was held at against the dock. This stretched out the line and the fender to the point that the fender holder was pulled free from the gunnel above. The fender holder is leather covered metal with stainless attachment hardware for lines. This holder was probably not all that heavy but, when delivered at high speed, can pack a dangerous punch. If the fender line had been secured to the boat, there would have been little to no risk. The forces didn’t appear to anywhere close to causing lines to part.

  19. Adam Barr says:

    So sorry to hear about this, best wishes Jen for a speedy recovery so we can all continue living vicariously through your awesome adventures.

    • Thanks Adam. This definitely will slow us down a bit, but we’ll get through it. Expect less adventure shots and a lot more of us relaxing in restaurants/pubs. That actually doesn’t sound so bad :)

  20. Atle Moe says:

    Whew! What a freak accident. So sorry to to hear about this one. As a fellow Nordhavn owner (husband and wife team like yourself) I certainly see the challenges ahead. Yes, maybe time for a slower pace for a while. All the best and hope our paths cross each other one day – we started in Florida and are currently exploring Scandinavia onboard our N57. Atle Moe

    • Thanks for dropping us a note Atle. Cruising Scandinavia sounds incredible. We are heading in your direction in the future. The Baltic Sea has been on my bucket list for a long, long time. All the best.

  21. Gary Gaunt says:

    Wow, thats a nasty fracture and will take time to settle down.

    I’m sure you’ll work around it but maybe the universe is sending you a message. You guys have been going pretty hard of late a maybe a change of pace towards really slow is needed.

    Put up the gone fishing sign for a bit….oh wait you don’t like fishing.maybe Candy Crush. :) :) :)

    Get well soon Jennifer

    • Yes, no doubt you are right on both points Gary. It’s a nasty break with a significant displacement so it’ll likely take some time heal. And, after more than 10,000 nautitical miles in 6 months, it probably is getting to be time to take it a bit easier. Ironically many of our enjoyment activities are harder to do with a painful arm. There is little that an be done to stabilize a collar bone so the only alternative is move slow and carefully.

    • Andrew Bate says:

      Wow. Sorry to hear of the clavicular complications to your trip. I wish Jennifer a swift recovery. As an attorney doing marine work in South Florida I had a case where a 58 Hatteras was having trouble anchoring in a blow out in the Dry Tortugas and as it drifted (was blown by gusting winds) the foredeck man left the danforth anchor dangling in the water just below the surface. As they blew past a small sailboat already anchored safely, the fluke of the danforth slid along a dinghy painter all the way to the bow eye of the dinghy. With the force of a drifting large motor yacht pulling tight on the painter, the bow eye parted from the dinghy and slingshotted back toward the sailboat, through the aft bulkhead of the cabin, and did substantial facial and mandibular damage to the unsuspecting lady cooking down below. Lesson: tension on three-strand nylon or any other stretchy line is tremendously dangerous. Assess stretch and intended use for each and every line in use. PS. I would expect Four Jacks to willingly cover your medical expenses. Many folks would have much larger dollar signs in their eyes.

      • Thanks very much for your advice Andrew. I really appreciate the time of those that have sent us help via the web site or privately. We have received advice from general practioners, lawyers, and even orthopedic surgeons.

        It has really made a big difference to us and I know for many professionals, your time is your most valuable asset, we really appreciate it. Thanks!

        • Andrew Bate says:

          Your website and blog and related communications have allowed many of us to live the dream…and the challenges (somewhat at least) with you and your seemingly very special yacht. Very enjoyable. Thank you for your generosity in sharing such a unique and personal voyage.

          • Great to hear Andrew. Nothing makes the time investement in the web site feel more worth it than when we see so many helpful comments and advice from boaters and other professionals who read it.

            It’s amazing how frequently I get a solution or a good idea from people reading with deeper backgrounds in some areas than I.

  22. Jamie W says:

    Please be careful in the coming weeks Jennifer and make sure your arm doesn’t fall off.

    On a related note, James, know anything about AWS and zombies . . . ?

  23. David Ibarra says:

    wow, no doubt scary experience. Relieve that everyone is fine. Did the other crew help you all???

    • David asked “Did the other crew help you all?” They helped Jen to the ground so she didn’t pass out, brought an ice pack, and ordered a taxi for us to get medical attention. All was useful and appreciated. My feeling is that an appology would have been a tasteful move but it’s up to the Four Jacks Captain and owner to decide how they want to operate. Clearly, equipment should not be breaking free from the yacht and landing on people on the dock below.

  24. Steve says:

    Wow, you go all that way without barely a scratch and now this happens. At least it didn’t happen out a sea, and Jennifer and you probably could use a little down time even if you don’t want it.

  25. Jon says:

    Sorry to hear, I hope Jennifer is on the mend soon. Hopefully Spitfire is a good nurse…

    I have loved reading your stories and can only dream of one day having a similar adventure.

    • Thanks Jon. Spitfire is one of the best. He’s just snuggles in at the foot of the bed and keep Jen comfortable.

      Good that you are planning a similar adventure. It’s been way better than we expected and we were excited from the beginning.

  26. Gregg Testa says:

    We are happy it didn’t happen at sea. Sending you our prayers.

    • Yes, it slows us down a lot, makes launching a tender difficult and even mooring a boat more difficult. But, I agree that it happening out at sea with only a two person crew, would be an even bigger problem.

  27. David Andrews says:

    This is dreadful news for you both. I wish Jennifer as speedy a recovery as is feasible. It is equally dreadful that the captain and crew of the offending vessel appears to have done a bunk without a word of sympathy or a penny of compensation. It is not what one expects in the maritime community. I hope word gets out in the boating world about their behaviour.

    • Thanks for the support David. It’s funny but, because of Jennifer’s injury, we couldn’t get that much done today and treated ourselves to a wonderful 3 hour lunch. It really wasn’t that bad a day. I could get to like this slower pace after doing more than 10,000 nautical miles in 6 months.

  28. Yong Qu says:

    Sorry to hear that. After going around the whole world, you got hurt so close to home. Hope for a speedy and smooth recovery.
    At least Caribbean sounds like a good place to take a break. Take care.

    • Jennifer Hamilton says:

      Thanks Yong. It certainly is a major bummer, but we’ll get through it. Hopefully it will be all healed before our next Friday team lunch in Seattle.

  29. Jamie Bush says:

    So sorry to hear this! Speedy recovery Jennifer! I think James will do a good job waiting on you on hand and foot.

    As to Four Jacks crew slipping out this morning without a word…. appalling. Do you know if the owner was on board?

  30. Labros Karagounis says:

    Sorry to hear about the accident. I follow your adventures with interest. Being a physician (cardiologist) I suggest to seek a second expert opinion how to best manage the fractured clavicle which is displaced. It will take long time to heal in a maligned fashion. If you permit me I can share the x-ray with my orthopedic colleagues to see what they propose: surgery vs conservative approach. I wish Jennifer quick recovery and patience!

    • That would be very kind of you. We would love to have the perspectives from you and your collegues. It is displaced remarkably far so I would really appreciate your perspective. I’ll send you the other X-rays as well. Thanks very much for the offer.

  31. Tod Sanger says:

    So sorry to hear! My wife broke her collarbone in an accident a number of years ago, looks pretty normal today. We wish Jennifer a speedy recovery and both of you the best.

  32. Ted says:

    Sorry to hear about the accident. Crazy. But as you say could have been much worse. Speedy recovery and keep on enjoying the journey.

    • You are 100% right Ted. It could have been much worse. The fender holder could have hit jennifer in the face and done far more damage. We’re mostly thankful but, still, the whole thing is a bit annoying. It really impacts what we can do in a substantial way.

  33. Cedric Rhoads says:

    Well, that’s a bummer. It’s astonishing that the Captain of Four Jacks didn’t stop by; surely his crew informed him. Whether they’d offer to pay, or not, overlooking this courtesy reflects poorly on the Captain’s leadership. Sigh. Anyway, please tell Jennifer that we’re all pulling for a speedy recovery. Speaking of, any thought to flying back stateside due to quality of care? The breaks look clean, but the set is everything. Been there, done that.

    • The care seemed pretty good here. We were both pretty impressed with the doctor and he said the options are let it heal as is which will produce a bit bigger lump or wire it together better aligned. The latter requires surgury but either can be done. He said and I suspect he is right that the majority view will be it’s not worth the minor risk that comes with every surgery. Unless we get clear guidance recommending an operation, we’ll probably go with the local doctors recommendations.

  34. Filo says:

    Jennifer, please take care.

  35. Timothy Daleo says:

    The wife and I read about her injury this morning and our thoughts are with Jennifer. We are amazed at how much time you have spent on the sea, and the precautions you have taken ,yet something like this can happen on land. How did the other crew react?

    • Yeah, it really sucks becuase it so thoroughly limits what we can do and makes things on the boat much more challenging. But, we’ll find ways to adapt.

      The other crew helped steady Jen to get her sitting down on the dock surface before shock took her down. They brought ice and ordered a cab to get Jennifer to the hospital.

      • Timothy Daleo says:

        With all of the future fallout and concern you seem to be taking the high road. It is unfortunate that with a boat that nice, and a crew that large, that the captain would have done more and and at least had a conversation with all of those involved. No class.

        • The crew seemed very professional and they maintained an incredibly well prepared boat. But, I totally agree, it would have been nice if leadership or ownership had said something or offered to cover medical costs. I suspect these things just get treated as potential insurance claims that only happen if the impacted party is sufficiently upset and so inclined. Other than that, no big deal, and no need to change procedures or how equipment gets deployed.

          • Timothy Daleo says:

            Speedy recovery to Jen, may new techniques become evident on your travels and let the Universe balance out the others. You both seem to be patient and understanding people and why I follow you.

  36. Ed Claunch says:

    Get well soon Jennifer! So sorry to hear you were injured.

    Glad it was:
    1. In port
    2. Unanticipated
    3. Temporary

    And you know if James could fix it he would!

    Kind regards

  37. Tim Kaine says:

    Holy crap!! Sorry to hear about your injury Jennifer and hope you heal fast. Judging by the look on your face it is not a pleasant experience. Wish I could fly over and help you all but at this time would be unable to.

    Will the owners of the other boat be doing anything to cover this? I know most cruisers keep aware of their surroundings and handle resposibility but I have run across a few who think they are not responsible for anything they do.

    • Thanks Tim.

      It’s a bit unusual to not even offer an appology but Four Jacks left this morning without a word. I would have appreciated at least an offer to pay medical and taxis costs but that didn’t happen and, in the end, those costs will end up as rounding error when compared to the hassle this whole thing has become.

      We are now operating Dirona with only 1 crew member for physical job and we can’t do diving trips, etc. As always, we’ll be fine and we’ll still have fun.

  38. Stewart Kelly says:

    Wow, so sorry to learn about this terrible incident James. I’m just glad something more serious didn’t happen from all the energy and thrust that line had. Praying for Jennifer’s speedy recovery and that you’ll both be back to normal activities soon.

    • It seems almost impossible that a fender attachment could be at once so heavy as to break bones and yet secured so loosely that it falls off with gentle boat motion. Pretty disappointing.

  39. Brian Smith says:

    Oh, no!!!! So sorry to hear about this! At least it didn’t hit her in the head – that could have been catastrophic. Here’s hoping for a quick, relatively painless (in all ways) healing process.

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