Here for a while
16 May 2012 | Faraulep, State of Yap - Federated States of Micronesia
As previously mentioned on Tuesday we entered the atoll of Faraulep and had a problem. I have been working around the clock to both fix the problem and organise the logistics to get parts here.
Unfortunately as we were leaving and navigating through the passage we hit a coral bommie. Nicky who was standing at the bow as lookout could not see it. The depth metre went from a consistent 7 metres to 0 in just seconds. I put the boat into full reverse as the keel hit but it went over and then with hit the bommie with our rudder. The rudder which moved backwards ripped a 20cm gash in the hull just in front of the rudder. Immediately water started to flood in. We knew this because to bilge alarm went off and the automatic bilge started pumping. We turn on another portable bilge I made up ? Thanks Darshaun for that idea ? and started to pump out the water. I then backed through the channel, turned around and headed for a sandy area in the atoll in front of the main island where we could beach the boat if necessary. We inflated our small rubber boat and two kayaks as we made our way back and prepared to put both valuables (passports, cash, etc) and also our heavy fuel into t he small boats to lighten the boat. I also ditched our water to reduce the weight of the boat. After hastily anchoring I uncovered the area which we were leaking from and shoved some t-shirts into it to reduce the flow of water. I then searched for some bond/putty. I gave two sticks to Nicky and he prepared to fill the gap from the inside. I put on the scuba gear and dove below and filled the gap with another stick of bond from the outside below the waterline. After some time we slowed down the flow significantly and caught our breath. When we anchored some of the islanders came out to see us in their canoes. As the head nurse Thomas had been walking around with his keys during the day and we believed for now we were not going to sink we decided to take our valuables back off the inflatable boats and store them once again inside. With all the frantic work ripping up the floor board and ditching things the inside looked like a war zone.
We then spent several hours refining the repair work as well as pumping our water as it came in working on 2 hours shifts throughout the night. On Wednesday morning I found another stick of bond in the tool box and dove below to fill up some of the remaining hair line cracks. For now we have pretty much sealed the leak. We are getting about 1 litre every 2 hours so still have to bail out water every now and then. With a tube of silicon rubber the islanders have offered us I believe we can stop the leak completely today.
Whilst the leak is now under control we still have to prepare the boat to return to Guam for a permanent repair. There is a flight from Guam to Yap on Saturday and another from Yap to Faris. There is a monthly supply boat which visits all the islands in the area and it departs Faris to this island around the time the plane arrives. We are therefore trying to organize for a kit of repairs from a boat shop in Guam to get on the two planes and the ship so we can begin to perform strengthening work. The boat is supposed to arrive Wednesday and with a bit of luck if it all comes together we should be able to set sail Friday or Saturday May 25 or 26.
The repair will require making a type of dry dock on the beach. The torn area is 30cm below the water line. The tide is around 50cm so the plan is to build some supports on either side of the boat over the weekend, drive the up boat on the sand during high tide, allow the tide to drop, ensure the boat does not tip over and then apply the repairs while the damaged portion is above the waterline.
We are still discussing with the boat shop in Guam and also Andrew the most effective and time efficient repairs given we have about a 3 hour tidal window to do them. Therefore I wonft go into them here.
The islanders have been incredibly helpful. I have started to write down peoples names to remember who is who and what they have done for us. When we first arrived they wanted to trade for things but now that we have a problem we are in trouble we are seeing pretty much nothing but generosity. They still want DVDs and coffee though! Some of them have told us they can not sleep thinking about our situation and it is through discussions with them that we came up with all the interconnected links to hopefully get our parts here by Wednesday.
Incidentally we also have someone in Yap who will buy silicon rubber and an FRP repair kit for us today at a local hardware store. He is coming out on the supply boat which leaves tomorrow. In order to track down a hardware store on Yap I called the visitor information centre ? the number which Anne found for me. I heard a strange accent and someone saying he did not know what hardware meant. I then realized it was a Japanese accent, spoke in Japanese and Mr Nakamura then went out of his way to get us various details of the store.
We are both safe and healthy. Though I stubbed my toe last night and have a terrible issue with the skin on my hands as they have been in saltwater and doing hard work for over 48 hours now. Nicky has the same issue on his right foot. But we have an ample supply of food, we still have about 20 bottles of Richardfs wine and some beer, some things to trade ? including our DVDs and electronic device fixing skills for example ? and water. Although we get about 4 squalls a day and are improving our rainwater catching techniques so soon will become water usage neutral. The wind generator is doing its work to pump enough electricity for our lighting and to charge the laptop and satphone. We have about 240 litres of fuel so can run the engine if need be to keep the fridge cool. Even if we run out of food on board there is enough on the island. Last night we were given turtle meat from a huge female turtle which had been caught earlier. We were given some more again this morning alo ng with mackerel, breadfruit and bananas. It looked better last night after I had had a beer. I could not stomach it this morning knowing it, and the yolk of some 200 eggs it was carrying mixed throughout it had been sitting on the beach all night and morning without refrigeration.
I feel very bad for Jon who has just spent thousands of dollars booking his flight to Truk and then from Honiara to Japan so to join me on stage 3. Ifll need to make it up to him somehow.
I am determined to get Yarramundi seaworthy and then onto Guam. From there I donft know yet what we will do. But getting to Guam wonft be at the expense of safety. So we will either get her right or if that turns our not possible come up with some other idea to get us off the island without her. With the supply ship coming through once a month we wonft get stranded here. My big concern right now is that since last night the satphone has started to make a clicking sound. Ifve tried to make sure it stays dry and hope that it is not a sign that it is about to break on us.
That is all for now. We need to get all the various people in Guam, Yap, Faris sorted so we can get our spares on the Ferry arriving Wednesday.