Drama narrowly avoided

It’s only a question of time before some drama unfolds on the sea. On our last cruise it involved a narrow escape in a 50knot Tongan squall resulting in hands sliced open on oyster shells as we desperately picked up a mooring line bare-handed; a dismasting in Vanuatu, a narrowly-avoided subsequent dismasting on route to New Caledonia, and later two knock-downs just short of NZ. A decent handful of dramas for 7 month’s of cruising.

Of course, we have to invent or at least exaggerate these stories to make our existence worth reporting – everyone knows that. But to be honest, many of our dramas are either man-made or exacerbated by our own nautical mistakes. Which brings us to today’s drama narrowly avoided.

We sailed up from Ambryn to Maewo Island, leaving at crack-o-sparrow into a 25 gusting 30 knot following wind and rain. Reinforced trade winds, I believe they’re called. Cautious as we are with the power of this boat, we sailed on jib alone and still managed 8-9 knots most of the way. Later in the day the wind dropped away, lulling us into raising the mainsail and full jib, only to lift again in our last hour before arriving at our new anchorage. In our final approach – bearing in mind the charts here are scant and inaccurate at best, and the place riddled with reefs – I announced time to roll up the jib prior to dropping the main (as we careered towards an uncharted shortline), only to find the jib stuck. In the ensuing drama-filled moments as we tried to drop all sail with the jib shaking violently, Rebecca got whipped by a 12 mm rope across the face and collapsed with face in hands. We finally managed to roll up the jib and drop the main, and limped into the bay in some state of shock. We were lucky to have avoided riding straight onto nearby rocks, and Rebecca was very lucky not to have lost an eye. She has a nasty bruise right across her face, and anticipates sporting a nice shiner tomorrow that will carry faint suggestions of domestic violence for our new Vanuatuan village hosts. I’m hoping they’ll understand the need for the skipper to keep his crew in line?

It’s in the reflective moments that follow wee events such as these that we ponder on what we should have done, and of course the answer was right there, determinedly avoiding my problem-solving logic at the time. Yes, Jason, i know you’ll be reading this saying “head downwind, you big plonker, take the pressure out of the foresail”, and this I should have done. Next time.

In the meantime, we’ve arrived at Asanvari Bay which sports a beautiful sandy beach fringed with coral, a tumbling waterfall, and a very welcoming village chief Nelson whom we’re already traded some petrol that the village needs for their generator. “How much for the petrol?” he asked us. Not having any idea of the money currency out here, we suggested he provide us with whatever fruit and veg he thinks is fair (most Vanuatuan villages have fantastic gardens), so we shall see tomorrow how many banana and pawpaw 5 litres of gas gets you.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 18:53:29

    Ouch! An experience like that would have me heading for home
    Enjoy the fruit & veggies
    C xxx


  2. Ted
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 07:49:41

    Well, well, so why did it jam? Personally I would have gone upwind to lower the main and sort the jib. You’re definitely having fun!! Just had a wonderful fantasy day at the Southampton Boat Show. Just can’t quite afford the Oyster!

    Love Ted & jillie


  3. Michael
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 11:16:54

    I am so pleased that was all that happened. Thank God you have a great Dr onboard. Flat on the deck but a great Dr never the less! I guess the good thing about a multi hull is that it has less draft than a mono so in your state of very controlled panic you probably skimmed across bombies without even realizing! xox
    PS was the exchange rate 1pp to 5ltrs?


  4. Raech
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 16:15:15

    Right, Im finally brave enough to leave a “public comment” (social networking / blogging not our strong suit). However todays post left me in a state of mild panic. But then I remembered Rebecca and the kids are in your capable hands Fred! (OMG panicing again). To the non-nautical it sounds extremely on the edge!! Be assured we are following each posting with great enthusiasm followed by gasps of horror/worry, much head shaking and muttering about mad friends, rounded out by the inevitable giggles from your halarious recounts. We miss you guys – keep the postings coming. Luvs and hugs Raech and fam xoxoxo


  5. Jules
    Sep 26, 2011 @ 00:04:50

    Let that be the biggest drama of the trip – good to have got it over and done with early… When/how do we get to see photos of the injured First Mate? Now, where’s my beer and my arm-chair?


  6. chan
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 19:27:16

    Probably an appointment with CYFS!! Makes a change to….. ‘I walkked into the door’. Thats the tallest story you’ve told me so far!!

    Yup just catching up on your stories – doing it the Chinese way and reading backwards!

    More inane comments to follow!!


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