Pension, sweet Pension
09 September 2021 | Pension Tiare Nui
William Ennis | Hot and rainy
Yep, we're ensconced in our home away from home, the Pension Tiare Nui. We've both enjoyed a long, hot water, stand-up shower and we're having cocktail hour inside, for a change. We've not forsaken the outdoors, but we've been sweating in the heat for many weeks, and it's nice to be clean, dry, and cool.
We have been in email contact with the Carenage staff for several days via Conni's phone. As you must know by now, I have no way to connect to the Internet, hence no blog posts or web pages. When I ask, of course, I can have a link using her iPhone as a hot spot, but otherwise, I've had no Internet in several weeks.
To accomplish something while waiting, we decided to awaken at 0600 (yikes!) and, weather permitting, remove and stow at least the jib. We managed to get ourselves on deck by 0610 and with some luck, made use of the usual morning lull in wind to pull down, pack, and stow the jib. Hey, not bad! We were concerned about more wind and rain, but managed to do the same for the huge and complex main, as well as packing the main lazy bag, the bag attached to the boom that covers the main when not in use. We even got the outboard stowed and the dinghy lifted to deck. Then, by 0800, it rained and rained.
The delay in lifting the boat from the water was because of the work in raising and transporting a large catamaran from Makemo, an island in the Tuamotus. Naturally, we watched the Carenage with interest since the catamaran's arrival signaled our turn at lifting. At 0830, we saw Carenage workers begin to ready their largest lift, a huge steel-beam device on heavy steel track. About 0900, the Carenage tug pulling an enormous catamaran came into view. The tug is a twin screw tug with a lot of power, and it easily towed the enormous boat. We watched the two vessels maneuver into the Carenage space and finally the huge cat was pulled from the water. When we finally got to the Carenage slip, we talked to Dominque about the process.
Two days before he heard about the catamaran, he had pulled another boat off the Huahine reef: number 140. He received a call from an insurance company that pleaded with him to rescue the boat. As Dominique says, he got "white card" (carte blanche) from the insurance company. Here's the story.
The boat in question is a 63-foot motor yacht, a catamaran, worth over US$6 million. As we thought, the expensive boat was rented with a charter company skipper. Makemo's lagoon is poorly charted, and that's what led to the sinking. The skipper had two crew on the boat's bow watching for coral heads, but the surface was disturbed from wind and the sun was too low to use. The crew saw the coral about 25-feet ahead and the skipper through the helm over and pushed the two engines to reverse, but to no avail. The boat hit the coral hard enough to hole the bow and then rip the front off the port-side keel and make a 0.5-meter hole. The boat stuck on the coral until 2000 hours and the incoming tide lifted her enough to escape the coral head. The skipper through on the throttles and beached the boat as quickly as possible. The starboard ama, or hull, was undamaged, so had engines and such, but the port-side ama sank at the beach and was completely submerged.
When Dominique and his crew arrived, they dived on the boat, attached big lifting bags to the port ama, and lifted that ama from the water. Immediately, they used sheet metal screws and a lot of caulk to seal the various holes with sheets of plywood. When those holes were sealed, they pumped out the boat and she was floating. They spent some time checking the repairs, and even visited some friends on the atoll! In 4 and 3 nights, they towed the damaged boat to Raiatea and had her on the hard. Dominique thinks that the boat will back in the water in a week, but she'll need her entire port ama repaired: new engine, new furniture. and new bulkheads. Other than the hull, everything will have to be replaced, but at US$6 million, the US$1million that repair will cost will be well worth it.
At any rate, we were notified that we could enter the slip, so at 1300, we pulled our anchor and motored to the slip. We did most of the work ourselves and motored into the slip alone. Only after we arrived did the crew arrive to help. We did well.
Lifting today was not to be, so we completed a few more chores before Conni met Raihau, our host at the Pension, and acquired our car and room key. At 1600, we decided to call it quits for the day and drove to our bungalow.
Now comes the slog to decommission the boat. We've lost three days of work awaiting our pull from the water, so we'll be busy. Tomorrow at 0800, Wings ceases to be a boat and becomes a fiberglass thing in a cradle.