Really Leaving Tahiti
22 July 2008 | Tahiti
We got up early this morning and rinsed down the boat to get all of the city's soot off of the decks while we still had ample fresh water. Once the boat was cleaned up we prepared to cast off. There wasn't much wind in the harbor so things were pretty mellow. We removed the stern cross ties first which does little to the boat's attitude when the wind is clam. Next the stern lines were loosed, the plan being to ride up into the channel between the docks on the very tight bow lines (they were tight to keep the transom off of the dock when the ferry wake comes in but close enough to use the pasarelle).
Well you know what they say about the best plans. What actually happened was much more interesting. The bow lines run down to moorings and have messenger lines back to the docks. The messenger lines are however much too tight (IMHO). At rest they don't drop straight down they actually run just under the surface angling down to the seabed from the dock making avoiding them careful work.
We had one line on the port side which angled off to port but once we released the port stern line the boat pulled onto the starboard bow line. This put the messenger in the rudder. With all lines off I asked if the messenger was clear of the prop and I got a yes. The messenger was clear at the stern but little did any of us know the line was looped up over the rudder and right in the prop.
I put the starboard engine in gear and within an instant, "beeeeeeeeeeep", came the report from the control panel. It is never good when your diesel stops without you telling it to. I started her again and tried an instant of reverse to see if it would spill loose. "Beeeeeeep". So now we had the starboard prop wrapped and a breeze blowing the bow onto the concrete quai (we were at the inside end of the floating dock). Nobu and Hideko quickly marshaled more fenders to the starbnoard side of the boat and a couple of guys from the next boat over helped us get a bow and stern line onto the dock. There was a nasty water pipe sticking straight out at our topsides but our fenders and rub rail put just enough space between us and the dock to keep it from gouging.
I had done everything possible to stay out of the nasty water around the Quai. We sailed all the way to Moorea with our new prop in the cockpit before installing it to avoid this water. Yet there I stood, mask and snorkel in hand staring at the black murky surface of the harbor. The pollution level chart at the harbor master's office came to mind with the harbor rating off the scale, "do not enter, health risk".
So I jumped in. After the obligatory quivering associated with entering the cool water and my mental image of its contents I took a look at the prop. Everything looked good, except for the twenty millimeter three strand wrapped around the shaft of course. The Varifold had folded up and was in perfect condition, nothing was loose and the sail drive looked fine. I had already checked the engine room and no water was coming through the seal.
I tried as hard as I could to loosen things up but the rope had wrapped the messenger line and there was no budging it. Out came the Myerchin. It took me a few dives and I had to cut the three strand and the messenger line to get everything clear. I was sorry to leave the clean up work for the harbormaster but hopefully they will tie a longer messenger line on next time around.
In retrospect I probably could have avoided the situation if I had left the port line on the bow and had Nobu haul us out into the channel on it to clear the starboard line. Not sure if this would have cleared the line from the rudder or not but certainly would have made a clean getaway more likely. Wide can be challenging some times. Another option would be to have someone untie the messenger at the dock and cast it loose (no fun for the harbormaster who has to recover it of course).
So after the morning's excitement we called into the harbor control on 16 to get clearance to go around the runway with a pole that sticks up 72 feet above the water. They told us to stand by and cleared things with the airport, then told us to proceed. It was around eleven o'clock by now and this is a good time to transit the airport as most big international flights come in early or late in the day.
The Tahitians love paddling. On any given day you will find may hardy souls out stroking away in teams or solo, almost all in narrow canoes or kayaks with Polynesian style outriggers. On the way to the fuel dock we picked up a few. They seemed tot have a great time riding our wake and showing that they could paddle faster than we could motor (for short bits of course).
We arrived at the Marina Taina's fuel dock at 5 minutes to noon. Lunch is at noon and the fuel dock guy was not entertaining any last minute clients. So we tied up and went to lunch as well. The casual restaurant at Taina is Italian, so we all enjoyed a nice pizza and pasta lunch. It worked out well because Nobu and I wanted Hideko to see the marina anyway.
We fueled up the port tank and our 5 gallon jug once one o'clock came around. The guy at the fuel dock was very helpful and we were off in no time.
Our current plan was to get Nobu to Bora Bora so that he can see the island before he heads home on the 28th. We planned three hops: Moorea, Huahine and Bora Bora. We were all reading the book called "Huahine, island of the lost canoe", and each of us had become very interested in seeing all of the reconstructed Marae (old world Polynesian temples).
We arrived at the east lagoon of Oponohu, our favorite anchorage in Moorea, at around four o'clock after a nice 8 knot sail. It was pleasing to see the main set so beautifully with the new battens installed. Everyone enjoyed a swim in the perfect water once we were settled. We left the boat in passage mode hoping for good wind to Huahine tomorrow though the forecast was not favorable.