Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Wed 16 Oct 2013 19:07
Time to Leave Aitutaki
Through the kitchen window I see Richard arrive with the outboard to be delivered to Bill on Palmerston.
Bear secures said motor. All going well.
Mid afternoon, Richard is back with the groceries we are to deliver to Bill. Not knowing about our strict rule on never having cardboard boxes aboard and too late for us to do anything about it – Bear passed and I stowed most of it in the shower, easy to spray, wash and feel confident we haven’t got uninvited guests. The sixty four toilet rolls were in a massive box, split into two, easier to manage and stow. Estimated weight of additions – just over three hundred and fifty pounds. Richard promised to be on standby with his car, trailer and boat ready should we need help.................
The sack of flour was deposited into a black sack and put at the end of the bedroom and the two halves of the toilet paper supply. Bear turned the engine on as a pre-flight check. No go, diesel bath full. Nothing for it, but I will have a quick check before we stay put and get it fixed here. Oh. Luckily for me I have a dedicated skipper to his blue jobs and thorough maintenance. He stripped the sea berth so he could fully inspect the engine. Diesel is shooting out from the top of the fuel filter. A quick change and all is actually cured. Well done captain. At just after five, all is well on board and we are ready for the off. High tide due at seven thirty so we know (as on our way in) if all else fails we can wait and float off. Could we get the stern anchor up. Nadder. One of our Australian neighbours went off rowing his dinghy to wiggle, twist, fight, grunt and give in. He came over to Beez, yipped at being “stung” by the girl (no idea). Bear got in and his sylph-like figure did the trick. As he went forward to raise the main anchor the depth gauge went cranky and kept fixing on ‘last’, I kept having to press reset and asked Bear if he would kindly do his mud-removal-anchor-wash as soon as we were out of the pass. Mmmmmm.
Big head of coral, I remembered on the way in, pointed to the right, should have pointed to go left around it, boomp. Hard aground. No worries, we can wait for the tide. Within seconds, a dinghy came roaring up with an enthusiastic Frenchman aboard with his son. He was here to help. Not with his little eight horse power outboard, no impact at all. He went off and soon we had another sole Frenchman and two New Zealanders in a third dinghy. The three dinghies - the princely sum of twenty four horse power. Richard as promised zoomed over with his fifty and Beez fifty, we had action. Pushing and shoving did little. I had a plan: swing Beez nose to face the way in, a short u-turn and all would be well. The original Frenchman was most put out by our muddy, almost dangling anchor but I did prevent him running over a visible coral head – evens there then. I reassured him it was the first time ever we had left an anchorage in this condition and it would be the skippers first duty once in deep water. All was well, Beez was afloat. Within seconds, somehow Richard flipped over. I was in bits as I saw his boat go over but couldn’t find his tubby crewmate. As he happens he had done the right thing, dived down and come up some thirty feet away from all the engines. Once I saw his face, I was relieved. Richard looked shocked, his outboard spluttered and died. Thankfully as soon as we arrived in Palmerston, Bill told us he had spoken to Richard on the telephone and all was well with himself, crew, boat and outboard. Phew. I had worried for the two days at sea and it was hard to put the image of the boat flipping out of my mind.
Our original Frenchman bade us farewell and reassured us there was nothing we could do but go on our way. We left this very sorry sight behind. .
Rowers shoot by in the dusk.
To our right.
To our left. We have never been so pleased to get into deep water and be on our way. A traumatic hour and a half.
Anchor washed and settled, sails up and away into the sunset. I need a stiff, stiff, stiff libation or two.
Methinks it appropriate to tip my head a give a good hoooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwllllllllll to the full moooooon.
ALL IN ALL NOT TO BE REPEATED - EVER