Thursday, September 13, 2012

There but for the grace...

We are still having fun here in Samoa and yesterday went on a car tour around the island (40 dollars for a day with unlimited mileage). We visited a black sand beach and then hiked through a coastal pandanus forest with views of sea arches. The trail then came out onto a lava field where we had lunch while watching the waves erupt against the volcanic cliffs. Later we swam in a pool under a waterfall and enjoyed an early dinner at a sea-side resort. It was nice to be off the boat for a while.

A few days ago, some cruisers we had met back in Moorea and again in Tahaa limped into the marina, under tow. "C'est La Vie", a large French built Amel, went on a reef near here and was quite badly damaged, being holed in several places and losing her rudder. I have spent quite a few hours helping out with fibreglass work. Steve off 'Gypsy Heart' and Doug off 'Long Shot II' have also been working on the hull damage. Steve, despite probably being the oldest cruiser out here has been lying on his back in a kayak grinding damaged glass over his head for hours on end. Danny off 'Pogeyan' will give Bob (the owner) advice on repairing the rudder, which was destroyed during the 17 hours they were on the reef or perhaps when they were pulled off by a Samoan police boat. Danny has fixed a few rudders before, which is a good thing as the rudder was completely torn apart.

The cruisers got together as soon as the boat arrived. After rigging a tackle, we were able to heel the boat over enough to raise the worst holes above water. We led two halyards over the top of nearby boats, including Ladybug. Larry off 'Pantaray' swam under the hull and plugged a small remaining hole with underwater epoxy. I helped by pounding out the panel that was completely stove in and then grinding the inside and re-tabbing it to two bulkheads. The second bulkhead was pushed in about 4 inches, so I borrowed a hydraulic jack to push it back roughly into place. The work we are doing is a temporary fix to get the boat to a suitable yard for insurance work.

The boat almost sank once it was towed off the reef and required a bucket brigade of husky Samoan police men as well as the crew to keep the water below waste level while a diesel pump was prepared. The pump then kept her afloat during a 25 mile tow to our marina. This was a harrowing ordeal for the owner and his crew, Jody. After running aground around 10 pm, they suffered through a long wet night heeled over at 45 degrees being pounded further onto the reef. The cause of all this - a small error in judgment or perhaps too much trust in electronic charts - a mistake any of us could make.

1 comment:

Lorraine AT course said...

Hi Chris and Rani, I am so enjoying your blog and have it on my favorites bar for easy access. You are doing what I can only dream of at this point but I often feel I'm right there with you through your wonderful writing and pictures. Safe seas, Lorraine MacCormack