24 August 2011 | Suwarrow Atoll
I started writing this post several hours ago and then hit the shrink button at the top right of the screen. Instead of shrinking it, it deleted it. So here we go for take two.
As I wrote in the last post, I started up the bread bakery as we had run out of bread from Bora Bora a few days ago. As it takes 30 minutes to preheat the oven for the bread, it uses lots of our limited supply of propane so we decided to make two loaves instead of one. One was done in the normal loaf pan and I made the second in a round casserole dish. The loaf pan loaf raised so high that when I attempted to rotate the loaf for more uniform doneness, it tore the top off the back third of the loaf. It had risen so much that it ran into the broiler unit on the top of oven. Even with the torn top of the loaf, both loaves came out fine. We are set for sandwich bread for at least a week.
One of the boats in the anchorage(YOLO--You Only Live Once) made the suggestion that we hold a class on diesel engines. As he entered the lagoon few days ago, his port engine(he's on a catamaran)quit. He's done lots of testing and tried difference fixes but wasn't sure h had actually fixed the problem and he wanted to pick the brains of other out here that may have had the same problem. In all, seven of us showed up as well as John, one of the Park Rangers. We traded stories as well as made suggestions as to what we thought might be wrong. The "class" was so successful that we have scheduled a follow up class on Marine Refrigeration for tomorrow.
Once "class" was over, Tracy and I took off for "Perfect Reef, about 3.8 miles south of here. Several boats(dingies) had planned to make the trip and since ours was one of the slower dingies, we left first, about 1145. The other took chase and two of the four that were following us, passed us. Three of us tied up to the buoy at the reef while the last two dropped small anchors in the sand so as not to hurt the coral. In all, there were about 15 people snorkeling at the reef. While I was in class, Tracy had made a nice picnic lunch for us. So while others had snacks to eat, we had a nice lunch. We decided to stay for one last snorkel into the afternoon but told the group that was heading back that if we didn't show up by 1600, to send out a rescue party. We finished our dive and got back just after 1600 safe and sound. We wanted to make sure we were back at a reasonable hour as a party had been scheduled for the beach at 1700. We along with 20 others of other boats, plus the two Park Rangers showed up for a gathering that lasted till 2000. It was nice to talk to others like ourselves and swap stories.
Before we went in, I dove on anchors(bow and stern) to make sure they were well set. Both were set fine but we wanted to make sure all was well as some strong winds were scheduled for last night. At 0315, the anchor alarm went off in the cockpit. We both went running to see what the problem. Tracy had joined me in the main salon as Zephyr was rocking so badly in the rough weather and wind. We took a look around and figured we would be fine for the rest of the night. We had deployed the stern anchor several days ago to help us avoid coming anywhere near large tall block of coral that lies about 40 feet off our port side. Sometime during the night, the stern anchor had come loose and we were swinging around with only the bow anchor holding us in place. Twice more during the night, the alarm went off but we were still a ways away from the coral head. It was a restless night. We made plans to either redeploy the stern anchor or let out more chain off the bow. With more chain out, if we did swing, we would pass behind the coral instead of hitting it. Early this afternoon, we let out more chain and balanced our rope snubbers(rope that connect to cleats at the bow and go down and hook to the anchor chain) so that it had a nice even pull on them from side to side.
Early this morning, James(Park Ranger) gave lessons on how to make "coconut fritters". Five of us(I was the only man in the group) showed up and off we went. We had to collect coconuts that had already gone to seed and had the start of coconut trees sprouting out of the top. We were advised that we should only collect coconuts that had three leaves growing out of them as those with four were too stringy to be used and those with two were not yet ready to be harvested for the fritters. We all got lessons on how to get the outer shell off the coconut to expose only the hard shelled center nut that you see in grocery stores. James showed us how to crack them open. Once they had reached this stage of maturation, the "milk" that is normally found in the center of the nut had turned to a somewhat solid mass that had to be grated up into smaller pieces. All was placed in a bowl and then flour, sugar, and water were added till it become a thick paste. It was all ready for frying up for tonights pot luck dinner. I'd seen them at the last pot luck but had no idea what they were. When cooked, they look like breaded chicken patties that you see at Mc Donalds. Not knowing what they were when I took some during the last dinner, it was hard to say exactly what they were but they tasted just fine to me.
Sherry, off Soggy Paws stopped by to give me some computer help with some of the navigation programs I have on board that aren't working as well as they should. After a couple of hours, all was much better. Earlier in the afternoon, I'd made water for another boat here in the anchorage(Far Star). His water maker doesn't work and he was out of water. About four of us that can make water are helping him try and fill his tanks. Once of the boats here in the anchorage(Saviah) had decided to move in the anchorage(to far out) but found that their anchor chain was wrapped around several coral heads and they couldn't get it free so they could move. A diver off one of the other boats came out and helped get their anchor free. He(the diver) even spotted a place for them to drop their anchor. About 1700, as the wind was gaining speed, their anchor broke!!! It didn't pull out, it snapped along the shaft of the anchor. They were suddenly adrift in the anchorage. Since they were near the back of the anchorage, they were very close to a large shallow coral reef that enclosed the south section of the anchorage. We were in the process of bringing Puff and Dragon(our dingy and outboard) on to the deck for storage(Dragon had refused to start) since the wind was growing and swells were already at 3 feet and getting larger. I put out a radio call to the Park Rangers about the situation(not knowing that their anchor had broken) and asked for some help. The Rangers were away from their station but others came on line and offered help including offering an anchor and line so the could be safe through the night. One of the dingies took it over to them and they got anchored on the west side of the anchorage, out of some of the swells. It's the first time we have heard of a CQR anchor breaking. We carry two and it will be interesting to see it when one of the divers retrieves it tomorrow.
It's now blowing in the mid 20 knot range(we think as our wind gauge is broken and the swells are still coming though the anchorage so it will probably be another rocky night tonight. Sure hope I get a better night sleep than I did last night. With it being so rough, I really sort of doubt it. I'll let you know in the morning