Trip Reports

Terror In Tahiti, Part 3 (16-May-2001-00-00):
The whole incident to this point had probably not lasted more than fifteen minutes, but really, it is impossible to describe the relief we felt at that moment. But it was also clear to the Captain that we were not by any means out of the woods. We must re-anchor the boat with a damaged rudder and prop, we may for all we know have a breach in the hull, we are surrounded by other boats in a tight anchorage, there are coral reefs which cannot be seen at all at night, and it is still blowing hard with torrential rain and little visibility. We picked up the anchor and drove around the vicinity trying to find another spot to drop the hook. As the Captain took the helm he found that the rudder felt OK and we could move the boat forward seemingly normally, but there was some vibration of the prop in forward which became quite worrisome in reverse. Also, in the given conditions it was difficult to make reasonable judgments about other boats' anchoring situations. Were they on chain or rope? Hanging on a mooring? The Captain had an idea from previously assessing these points, but he certainly did not want to make matters worse by making another mistake and swinging into someone. The wind finally diminished to about twenty, then less, the rain eased up a bit so we could see, and we dropped the hook at last in a place which we were certain was clear of coral and other boats but a little in the channel. We didn't like this but since it was not a shipping channel and it was the middle of the night we figured we were safe until morning. We went back to bed exhausted, but the Captain was not able to find any solace in sleep.

The next morning we went to a pay phone ashore to try to contact Mr. Shrode, provisional landlubber, a person who can always be counted upon to add a positive outlook and who, unlike the Captain and Theresa, would have been rested. The hotel said no such person was in residence there. Since after repeated insistence the receptionist could not find Terry or Caroline in their records, we had no choice but to abandon the effort to contact them. Of course they had been there awaiting our call all the time, and indeed Mr. Shrode could see the boat from his hotel, had watched with concern the weather earlier that last evening and noted in the morning that the boat had moved, but had no idea what had transpired and no way to contact us. Theresa and the Captain returned wearily to the boat. We had checked the bilge in the night and ascertained that no water had come aboard, and the Captain now dove under the boat to see just what the damage looked like. The prop appeared scuffed and there were plenty of gouges and scrapes in the keel and rudder. Beyond this, as Mr. Shrode confirmed on his dive the next day, it seems that our folding prop has been put out of balance so that it produces a vibration in both forward and reverse. We are concerned that the prop shaft or cutless bearing may be compromised, and we will have to look into it further. But Maverick, while battered, is, we feel to our great relief, going in the end to be OK.

The dismasting we suffered two years ago in the Doublehanded Farallons Race in fifteen foot seas and thirty knots of wind was very tough, but emotionally quite a mild experience compared to this one. Nick Nicholson reported in a recent issue of Practical Sailor that two days after the grounding of his boat in the Red Sea, his hands still shook. And the Captain was not able to sleep or eat normally for a similar two days after this bump in the road. But the fact is that like it or not, incidents like this are sometimes part of the adventure, and could happen ten feet from one's home slip. Another boat has just come in to anchor even more closely to the reef than did Maverick despite our cautionary comments, and will probably come to no grief. But only a minority of cruisers escape the experience without some dodgy escapades, and not a few of our colleagues here in Papeete have, by the way of offering condolences, come forth with stories of their own mishaps and mistakes. Already the sting of this night has dimmed, and soon we'll be on our way again.

Back to the Progress Chart | Back to Trip Reports
Progress ChartTrip ReportsPhoto GalleryAbout MaverickThe CrewGlossary & Technical Weather Check