July 19, 2011

Eventful Sailing

Wishing, “fair winds and following seas” is a bit passé—the correct thing to say to a departing sailor is, “have an uneventful passage.” Fair winds are for wimps.

We’re in Raiatea. It was a bit interesting getting here—especially because we weren’t coming here. We were going to Huahine—which we won’t see. I’ve decided to stop reading up about destinations because whenever I do that, and when I get excited about going somewhere, we don’t make it.  I think it may be better to be surprised. Raiatea can now surprise me. Hopefully in a good way.

The harbour suck in Tahiti was far stronger than we expected and kept our anchored swallowed for longer than planned. We have loads of great reasons for not leaving: met some awesome Auzzies, had to have dinner with Piko and Britannia, had to work, the weather was sucky.

So we didn’t leave until yesterday. It was still windy when we left but wasn’t supposed to be too bad, but it picked up to 20+ when we got near the southern end of Mo’orea. Before we could react to the rising gusts (it was flat calm leaving Tahiti) it had torn our mainsail nearly all the way across. Fortunately the tear was below our second reef (which is the one we almost always use—unless the wind in less that 15 knots or so) so we pulled the bits together and reefed down. Meanwhile the seas built to alpine and the wind increased to wailing and I just wanted to tap my red heels and go home…

Instead (as we were reefing further—because it was windier) we saw a flare just off the reef of Mo’orea. We called Tahiti for help and had a boat we know translate a relay to ‘Emergency Papeete’. As we called we tried to reef further in an effort to get upwind and around the reef to the flare site but with dusk falling and a reef strewn lee shore ahead (not to mention big seas and strong wind) we were pretty reluctant to try and asked Papeete if there was a closer more maneuverable boat that knew the coast that could help.

There was a whole lot of back and forth in French and eventually we learned that somehow (still can’t figure the logistics of this out) a boat with a wife aboard drifted out to sea while her husband was on shore (tricky because she’d have to drift out a narrow pass against an onshore wind). I guess she didn’t have a working radio so she shot off a flare. Her husband got aboard a ferry and was going to get her. But at this point I guess she saw us moving away and shot off another flare—can’t think she was having a good night, but we had no way of assisting her…

As Toast says there are just so many things wrong with this scenario, I don’t know where to start. I’m hoping that something intelligent was lost in the translation… Anyway—we had to sail on and can only assume there was a positive outcome. It settled through the night and we arrived here to find a dingy-motorless DQ (who have Maia’s shoes aboard—which we had written off because we thought we had parted ways…)

Now we need to fix the sail-which is why we diverted to Raiatea and its repair facilities. Which I have to admit I feel pretty okay about. Just about every boat we know is/was recently/or is putting off being stalled by one high-dollar repair or another. I thought, perhaps, we had avoided this by simply sailing around with our broken daggerboard, but it seems we’re not getting off that easily.

7 comments:

boatbaby said...

oy. do you guys have a sailrite machine on board? or... duct tape? what caused the tear? just strong wind or was the sail older or...?
bon chance ami!

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Hey Cindy we do have a sailrite. We've done loads of smaller repairs for us and others but this is a big enough rip that we'd rather someone more experienced tackle it. It is an older sail--but it seemed healthy, so we'll do the post mortem when we pull it off.

boatbaby said...

zoiks, sorry to hear that. i hope you patch up ok!

dennis said...

Hmmmmm - passé? Given a choice I would take "fair winds and following seas" over an uneventful 1,000 miles to windward.

Cheers

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

The sailmaker did a great job of the repair but the sail hasn't got that many miles left in it. Two years in the tropics on an already older sail takes its toll... Looks like the tear came from the way we had done a previous repair though--we created a weak spot in a high stress area.

Allkindsofsunglasses said...

good look with your sail repair you guys

Facebook Tab Design said...

Sounds like a lot of fun and hard work involved. I hope the repairs do not dent your wallet too much.

I'm sure it's worth it though even if it does!