Adrian Flanagan oversees the yacht's hoist onboard Russian ice-breaker 02/10/07

This weekend Adrian Flanagan has been enjoying the hospitality of the Russian crew onboard the Kapitan Danilkin, an ice-breaking vessel bound for Murmansk. As Adrian became increasingly frustrated with the unrelenting ice, he was forced to consider a number of options – including abandoning Barrabas and returning to the UK on the next available flight. However, at the eleventh hour the Globex team were successful in securing Adrian and Barrabas passage on the ice-breaker. All he had to do now was stow the yacht onboard – something that had kept the Russian Captain awake for the past three weeks:

“The port authorities, initially reluctant to offer any assistance to the ship by way of personnel or materials for hoisting and securing Barrabas finally relented and had sent out two sea containers and straps of sufficient strength to lift the boat. On arrival alongside, I met Dimitri the Chief Mate, a young, amiable seaman and then Captain Zagorsky. At 72, he scrambled down the rope ladder onto Barrabas’s deck and leapt aboard. He is small and toughly built like a jockey. Despite the diminutive stature his greeting was akin to having your hand slammed in a closing elevator door. He immediately yelled for light in the gathering dusk and almost instantly Barrabas was ablaze beneath the port side floods mounted high on the ship’s superstructure. I watched him carefully. Hooded eyes flicked across the yacht’s deck, up the mast then down again. Shrouds and stays were tested for tension. Rapid fire Russian peppered the Chief Mate who fed the questions back to me in English. How strong was the mast? Could the backstays be disconnected? How? Could a jury stay leading aft from the mast be rigged?How quickly? And on and on.

“After several minutes of scrutiny, I accompanied the Captain onto the deck of his ship watched by the crew assembled at the port rail to take my lines then observe proceedings. He wanted to show me the arrangements he had planned for taking Barrabas on board. In a quick aside the Chief Mate told me that the Captain had not slept well for three weeks as the problem of how to stow Barrabas and get her through the ice had tumbled around in his mind. ?
“Many meetings had been held with the ship’s crew to brainstorm. The result together with the Captain’s striding authority did much to alleviate my own anxiety. Each of the two sea containers was anchored on the port and starboard hatches of the central cargo wells. The yacht’s keel would sit on wooden blocking laid in the central gallery running between the hatches, the sides of the gallery deepened with more wood blocking. I knew instantly that the arrangement would work.

“By midday on Friday with the hoisting straps positioned beneath Barrabas, their ends then shackled to additional straps and these in turn extended by further lengths of strapping, we adjourned for a quick lunch. The crane swung outboard and the great block lowered precisely between Barrabas’s twin backstays which I had loosened to permit some give should the block tap against them. Half way down the length of the mast, some 12 feet above the boom the straps were placed over the hook. On my advice to the Captain we took tension on the straps and lifted Barrabas 12 inches. The forward main strap extensions were raking backwards to the hook and I had angled their path between the shrouds. There could be no contact between the shrouds and the straps and Barrabas had to come out of the water completely level.

“She did. Slowly she was lifted from the sea and swung inboard then turned with tag lines I had rigged from bow and stern and lowered to her new resting place. The blocking beneath her keel was too high and we quickly cleared the wood before Barrabas was re-lowered. Still held in the crane, the crew then set to work in a manner which had evidently been rehearsed shoring up the yacht’s sides. We then positioned two of the ship’s fenders, each 12 feet high and 4 feet wide vertically in the spaces between Barrabas’s bows and the sea containers on either side. The final part of the operation tethered Barrabas to the deck of the ship by lines from her forward, midships and stern cleats attached to chain made off to secure lashing points and then tensioned almost bar tight.

“The Kapitan Danilkin weighed anchor in the late afternoon, turned hard to port and nosed eastwards out of the Tiksi roads. I watched from the bridge. To the west the pewter had become burnished. Feathery cloud moved listlessly aloft. From high up on the bridge deck I saw that the cranes derricks had been lowered to their sea-going positions, one of them crossing over Barrabas’s stern deck like a protective arm.”