Friday, December 2, 2016

A Double Hat Trick In Indonesia

Hugh was one of great Yellow Shirts. That's what we call the
WARC staff as they are easy to find in these shirts! Hugh
first met us in New Caledonia with WARC New Zealand.
Or when it rains, it pours! Dennis was feeling better but still weak on Wednesday so we decided to start sailing to catch the fleet. There was a 48 hour stop in Christmas Island that would allow us to gain on them. The downside was that we probably wouldn’t get to stop there so it would be about a 1150 nm sail straight to Cocos Keeling. So we were up at 0600 to prepare the boat for sailing.

And as we were heading out of the anchorage when another challenging situation happened. (One was the mechanical problem with the generator and two was the no-show mechanic and three was Dennis’s running stomach.) That completes the  first Hat Trick – sort of. Now it appears that we are working on a second one!

Pearl Farms are everywhere! And hard to see.
As I was following the route track on which we entered the area, I saw two white things ahead floating in my path. The area is full of pearl farms which they move from time to time. I was concerned that I was heading into one between the two white buoys­­­­­­­­­­­­ (which turned out to be floating cups!) I slowed the boat and asked Dennis and Don to tell me what I was seeing white ahead of me. Don waved me to starboard to miss the object. And then it happened!

The reef doesn't show on the chart just above the dock
that doesn't exist at all! So much for depending on them.
We were at low tide and there was a reef on my starboard. The depth meter read 29 meters and the next minute, Dennis was yelling for reverse. As I threw it into reverse, the bow lifted like a rearing stallion as we were trying to stop before hitting the reef and sent Dennis to the deck. We came down gently, but the bow was on the reef. I couldn’t back off once we came down!
We were right in front of a village which was both good and bad. Bad: it was embarrassing to have gotten stuck on a reef that I knew was there but couldn’t see due to the light and position of the dinghy on the deck – plus with an audience on shore. Good: The good thing is that the villagers walked barefooted out on the coral to help lift us off.

Man was the best all week!
One of our water taxi drivers was Man, who also came on board on Monday to help me set up my phone and buy more Internet time because I couldn’t read the language. He has the greatest smile! Man had taken it upon himself to go ashore and put some minutes on my phone so I could text or call him if we needed anything. He had also shared that his brother lived in the village next to the anchorage, but he lived on the other side of Gili Gede.

Unfortunately, we were at the lowest of tides for the day when I nipped the edge of the reef. Backing up did no good so we were going to sit and wait for the tide to turn to flow. I was concerned that we would be pushed further onto the reef so I texted Man to see if he could come in his boat to pull us off.

We knew the track out from our trip into the bay. But the
floating white objects caused a misjudgment.
Just then a group of guys from the village started walking out and some came in a boat. Man was on foot walking to us, but had called his friends with boats. Dennis became concerned about “salvage claims” so he wanted to talk to the guys first. The tide had only gone up 0.01 meter at this point.

Then the sailing gods looked down upon us! Six or seven guys pushed on the bow as I reversed and we floated off the reef! Thank you lovely villagers! We gave them some money to share, said our goodbyes and were on our way through the pearl farms toward the Start Line. We had our own 0902 start on Wednesday and continued on around Desert Point. And we checked the bilge again.

So why do I call this a Double Hat Trick? The first Hat Trick was the generator issue, the mechanic’s failure to return and Dennis getting sick. The second one was the three dumb things that caused me to kiss the reef:

1) We broke our rule of having someone on the bow watching (because they were busy putting away things),

2) I took direction from someone (other than the Captain) and he wasn’t in a position to see the whole picture and

3) I didn’t follow my own instincts and allowed myself to turn to starboard instead of going to port where the water was deeper. I had no idea that it went from 29 m to .45 m in less than inches! These Hat Tricks were not winning moments, but they did provide lessons learned!

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