Friday, October 22, 2010

Kaven Maloelap

They always say it is bad to anchor on a lee shore, and Kaven is a lee shore. We are the only sailboat that has stopped in Kaven in the past 5 years. I guess I'll explain why! Arg!

It was a beautiful calm day as we motored up from Taroa toward Kaven. It is about 25 miles, so it took most of the day. We were tired from the flu still, so we decided to anchor in a little better protected spot about 2.5 miles from Kaven, at Yarubaru Is. We rested and had a peaceful night. About 10 AM we motored on to Kaven and anchored in front of the school.

Trinda still was not feeling well from the flu so I took the candies for the kids and went ashore alone. I found the World Teach volunteer, Angelina. We walked around passing out the lollies and took photos in her classroom. It began to rain. We stepped inside a house we had just given candy too, to wait out the heavy part of the rain. After about 10 minutes I walked in the rain over to the beach where I could see the boat. All looked OK. I went back. About 10 more minutes it let up some and I said I needed to get back to check on Trinda.

As we got back to the center of the village where I could see the boat, IT WAS IN THE WRONG PLACE!! We rushed to the dinghy and tried to launch it. The wind had gotten up to 30 knots straight from the other side of the lagoon, 30 miles away. With that much fetch, it only took 20 minutes to build 10 to 12 foot breakers on the beach and under the boat. Angelina, some students and I could not launch the dinghy! The breakers just filled it with water. A couple of the local men ran out to help. They first tipped the dinghy over sideways to empty the water then helped launch it without filling it up again. I waved goodbye and got to the boat.

Trinda was in a panic! The anchor had slipped some. The chain had jumped off the windlass and run out the whole 300 feet. That put the boat back almost on the beach in 11 feet of water. We need 7 feet to float and the 10 foot waves made it less. Trinda was sure she heard the boat hit the bottom a time or two.

When the wind first got strong, she had tried to get my attention. We have a "canned air airhorn". She honked it all out. Also another one you blow on. She then rang the ships bell a while. Not a sole looked out in the rain to see her. She was VERY frustrated, to say the least! When I got to the boat I started apologizing before I got out of the dinghy.

The waves were so big that I just pulled up beside the boat and on a high one just rolled out of the dinghy onto the deck!. I tied off the dinghy on the side of the boat, with the outboard and wheels still down in the water. I started the boat engine and ran up to get the anchor started up. Trinda drove the boat toward the anchor chain while I got it on the gypsy of the windless and started pulling it up. Finally almost safe, we headed for the pass about 2 miles away. The wind was still about 30 and veered around straight from the pass. We thought that we could get in the lee of the island next to the pass and maybe find a sand patch not too deep to anchor for the night. The wind was so hard that it took 4 hours to get to the pass. By then it was too dark to see to find a safe place to anchor. We followed our previous track through the pass out to the ocean side, looking for a break from the wind. Not found! We were tired! We had noticed a 60 foot depth in the center of the pass, so we turned around and went back looking for it. Just as we passed it the windless acted up and threw the breaker again so it wouldn't go down by power. I released the clutch and let it run out fast. We managed to get anchored in about 85 feet of water. Then it was time to do something about the dinghy. We had stopped in order to get it squared away. You can't expect to tow a dinghy with motor any distance in the ocean without lots of damage, like a line chaffing into and loosing it or the rings tearing out.

There was still about 6 foot waves from the wind in the lagoon and about 8 foot swell coming in the pass from the ocean side, but only about 15 seconds a part. I tried to pull the dinghy up to get in so we could take the motor off. I couldn't pull it up, something was caught. I had left the dinghy anchor in the dinghy with its 75 foot rope and thought it must have bounced out and caught on the reef. I went back and crawled out through the lifelines and fell into the dinghy between waves. I found the tight line and cut it. I still couldn't pull the dinghy forward! I looked again and saw the anchor still there but a tight line from the other side. The dinghy anchor line had washed out of the dinghy and fouled the main boat prop! Well I cut that side too then we pulled it around to the other side where we hoisted the outboard off and got it on the rail mount safely. Then I noticed the dinghy wheels that I left down, were now only one! One vibrated loose and lost. Someone in Kaven will now have a new wheel barrow wheel.

It was dark now. Another thing you never do, is leave the boat with a sever problem when things are bad! I was too tired, so I said I'd deal with the anchor rope in the prop in the morning. This time I got away with it. We woke up at first light, as if we actually slept any with the anchor chain jerking on the coral every wave and the boat bobbing all around. I jumped over and started untying the rope from the prop. There were still big waves. now and then a wave so big the boat prop came out of the water with me snorkeling, trying to hold on and untie the mess. I finally got it, then noticed I could see more of the shaft than I should.

I got back aboard, I had to have Trinda help as I was so tired and jerked around that I couldn't climb the ladder with my fins and mask on. I looked in the engine room and sure enough, the 'drive saver', a rubber coupling between the transmission and the propeller shaft, had "protected" the transmission and broken completely away.

After worrying a while, I removed the bolts and pieces and found that there was just enough slack in the shaft to bolt it direct to the transmission without the drive saver. We were in business again. Then I got a big glass of water. Oh! It's salty!! I had left the deck fill ports open with a towel around them to catch any possible rain. Trinda has been washing clothes every day and using lots of water. When the wind came up, it made the boat bounce, salt water came over the bow and ran right into the drinking water tanks.

I had noticed it open earlier and closed the deck fills but hopped that not much water came in. We drank the cold water that Trinda keeps in the fridge until that was gone. We used the tank water to wash dishes and such. Because the fresh water floats on top of salt water, we accidentally used most of the salt water out of the tank before we need to drink much. By then it was diluted enough, it only tasted a little off. When we got back to Majuro and settled down a little, I tested the tank water with the watermaker tester and it was not bad, 400 ppm, where the watermaker makes 250 ppm water. You can taste salt at about 750 ppm.

We got the engine going, weighed the anchor and voted to return direct to Majuro and skip Likiep. We were sad to have to miss visiting Likiep again, but we need to get back to order parts and rest. We still plan to head West the first week of November.

The wind stayed in the SE, just enough that it was mostly on the nose the 100 miles back to Majuro. Doing only 3 knots it too too long to get back. but we're here and safe. $200 for a new drive saver, $135 for new set of dinghy wheels. The ropes I cut were old already. A few cuts and bruises but we're fine.

Trinda will say that I wrote this up all about me, but she was there and worried, scared and excited the whole time too. Good thing no one could hear the things she said while I was still ashore and the boat was heading for the beach!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you guys are safe. We've been following your blog for about a year (we sailed up to Hawaii from Fr. Poly and plan to go to the Marshalls eventually).

    Episode #239 in "Lessons Learned (Remembered) the Hard Way"

    Sherry s/v Soggy Paws