On the Edge - And Some Not-So-Good Bits
29 June 2018 | The Duff Islands, Temotu Province, Solomon Islands
It had rained almost all that first day and the first night the wind had clocked repeatedly around 270 degrees, gusting up to 30 knots as well as plenty of rain and this caused me to rethink our anchoring arrangements. We had also discovered there was a significant out-flowing current in the lagoon when the tide was COMING IN! We guessed this was due to waves slopping over the inshore reef and filling the shallow lagoon pouring out through our openning. If anything happened or conditions deteriorated we doubted we would be able to extricate ourselves so we decided to reposition Monkey Fist and turn her 90 degrees to allow us to do so, the weather conditions the next morning were settled and favourable so we set about doing so. I rigged a temporary mooring line from the bow around one of the few boulders in the south of our small lagoon, we took up tension and it looked good, turned the boat around and picked up the main anchor in the dingy dropping it in the area where I would shortly dive and set it behind a coral bommie. At that particular time the wind changed and came in from the East. I was in the water in diving gear and to my horror I was suddenly unable to see the temporary mooring line and was swimming towards Monkey Fist when I saw it and the anchor and chain dragging ineffectually across the bottom of the lagoon towards the entrance and surrounding reefs, attached to Monkey Fist, with both other anchor lines still attached to her stern. (I later dived on the boulder and saw that it had been dislodged and rolled over and I was unable to budge it..). There was very little time to act and with lines in the water and Monkey Fist still tied via the stern there was little we could do. The current and wind drove her sideways against the reef swinging her via her tethered stern. Locals arrived seemingly out of nowhere and tried to help by pushing us off the reef but to no avail. The 10 hp motor on our dingy was too small to pull or push MF off the reef and things were looking decidedly grim. Just then one of the very few local boats with an outboard (15 hp) was heading back home past our lagoon, saw our predicament and came to our rescue. Frances and Caroline threw them a line and told Nicholas to pull MF sideways and combined with our dingy's effort we managed to gradually overpower the wind and current and move her back into deep water. After consideration we re-anchored inside the lagoon to ascertain what damage had been inflicted. Also the weather outside had deteriorated - the proverbial "between a rock and a hard place". Donning mask, snorkel and fins I expected to find significant damage but was relieved beyond words to find no serious damage. I checked and checked again. The rudder had not been touched and neither had the prop or prop shaft. The only damage I could find was some paint off the bottom and two metal strainers crushed. Yet again I checked but it seemed we had dodged a bullet. We reset the other two anchors and also deployed our fourth and final anchor. I dived repeatedly on them and we were as satisfied as we could be that it was as safe as we could make it. By then Father Leslie had arrived (one pm) and, after discussion amongst us, we decided there was nothing else we could do and so, in the rain and wind we headed up to the villages to undertake the second day of our clinic. As you could imagine, by the end of the day we were all mentally and physically exhausted, what would you do?