Thrusday and Horn Island
16 July 2015 | Thursday Island and Horn Island, Australia
We Arrived yesterday and I started working on the Internet to find a replacement spare alternator available in Australia. We got that under control and just took the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the tranquil harbor. We visited with friends and discussed when to leave for Indonesia. All was well and we went to bed early but a good night sleep was not to be had.
At about 23:30 Nancy was awakened by a knocking on the boat by an intoxicated sailor. At first she was upset to be awakened but when she went outside she found that this man was in fact calling for help. He was bleeding from being cut up with the propeller of his dinghy outboard engine. He was in desperate shape with blood all over the dinghy, soaked and shivering and obviously drunk. We got a tourniquet around his calf above a large defect in his gastrocnemius muscle. His other cuts were of less significance. As I was taking care of him and getting him to remove his wet clothing to put on some dry clothing we had, Nancy got on the radio and called for help on channel 16. She made contact with a radio operator 350 miles away in Cairns (who monitors the radio for emergencies) and he was able to call the local authorities to marshal help. We then launched our dinghy and while Nancy handled the communication with the emergency respone personel I towed him and his dinghy into the wharf where we were met.
Steve as it turns out is a tough and seasoned 60ish master certificated sea captain with 40 years of commercial experience who at this time was solo cruising his own sailboat. His boat was anchored just ahead of ours. I got to know him as we were waiting for help.
He is a nice guy. Here is his story. Apparently he was coming back to his boat and standing up in his dinghy when a wave threw him overboard. He wasn't connected to the engine kill switch. He was holding on to the painter and for 10 minutes after he was cut up with the propeller while bleeding profusely in the water he struggled to get back into the rapidly spinning out-of-control dinghy. Only by his fortitude did he survive. The painter was his lifeline. He unsuccessfully tried to disconnect the fuel hose, but eventually crimped the fuel hose to the outboard and was thus able to starve the engine to death. With his remaining and dwindling strength he managed to pull himself back into the boat and thus get to help. Not only did he come very close to drowning but there are crocodiles that we have seen sunning themselves on the beach (and presumably sharks.) God protects sailors and drunks.
He eventually was stabilized and the next day flown to Cairns for surgery. We understand he is OK.
We are now making our final preparations for leaving next week. We expect our new alternator to arrive Monday. I'll try to have it installed by Tuesday and perhaps we will be able to leave on Wednesday. I still have to clean up the engine room UH! It has sodium bicarbonate powder all over.
Life is rarely boring on Always Saturday. Oh yes it's my birthday today!