Aug 10

Misadventures with Slurpy: part 2

Tag: boat work,failuresJonathon Haradon @ 6:12 pm

(refers to events on July 10th)

I felt like a champ after having found the VHF.  Back at the boat, cold but ecstatic, we hurriedly tied up the dinghy and enjoyed a sweatshirt and beer in celebration.

I wish we had not hurried.  In the middle of the night, our dinghy decided to float away.  The knot somehow slipped.  Matt told me in the morning that he woke up at 3 am to pee and the dinghy was gone.  He then went back to sleep.  What else could he do?

I found out at 6 am when I woke up.  The prospect of a new dinghy was not pleasant.  A minimum of $1000 for an engine.  Another $2000 for the dinghy itself.  This was an expensive problem.  Getting to shore was now a major challenge, involving swimming, paddling the two-person kayak, or hitching a ride.

It slowly dawned on my through the morning that it was I who had tied up the dinghy.  In my rush and because I was cold, I apparently did a poor job.  Perhaps it wasn’t as tight as it needed to be on the cleat.  It is doubtful that I went back over the knot, and I clearly did not tie up the dinghy with the second painter line that has now become mandatory but at the time was rarely used.

Matt was always magnanimous as we talked to various people about the incident.  Careful to never blame me or express anger towards me.  I had in fact, watched a knot of his nearly come undone just two days before.  You would think this might have made me more wary and it did in the moment.  I did not remember to be wary when I was cold and wet and exhausted from searching for over an hour for the VHF.

We discussed what to do.  It was clear this was a blow to Matt and had effectively resigned to buying a new dinghy and engine.  He didn’t really like either anyway.  I thought we should go looking for it, for which I received a ‘Yep, you should do that.’  I radioed the anchorage intent on getting a ride to shore, and relayed my embarrassing sob story over the VHF.  “Good morning Rangiroa.  You know its a good day when you wake up and discover your dinghy has floated away in the middle of the night,” I began.  A couple of our yachty friends replied and two hours later I had a ride into shore.

There, my miserable French tried to describe to people on the dock what happened and ask them if there was any hope.  This was not easy and I certainly wished for Matt and Karen to help with the language.  My vocabulary is limited to “Des sole, je ne parle pas francais. Parlez-vous englais?”  However, with the help of a local dive operator, I managed to talk to one person who was insistent that our dinghy would be on sure somewhere.  Just walk the shore he said.  It will be there.  I am positive it will be there.  This was encouraging!  Others however were not so enthusiastic.  But I had to try.

So walk the shoreline I did.  It was six miles between Passe Tiputa and Passe Avatoru.  at which point I would have to stop.  Walking along the shore was not like some stroll along a beautiful white sandy beach.  Or even a kinda crappy beach.  There was no beach. It is all bits of coral, usually only 3 feet wide before land starts.  At the land were peoples’ houses, schools, restaurants, a police station: the gendarmarie, other businesses and dogs.  Lots of dogs.  I am not a dog lover in the United States, though I lived with one for 8 months and quite enjoyed it.  In French Polynesia, I strongly dislike dogs.  They’re mangy, dirty, underfed, bark randomly and bark protectively when coming near a home.

I filed a police report.  I a couple dozen people.  Walking through peoples backyards will do that, and they frequently eyed me suspiciously.  Particularly the couple I came across whose wife was sunbathing nude in her backyard.  The husband was quite nice about it, despite my intrusion.  Each time I would tell swallow my pride and relate my story, often in short keywords with much pantomiming, as the person I was talking to did spoke only a little English.  Yet again, having Matt or Karen along would have been nice to try and communicate.  Frequently, the people would exclaim something, walk closer to the shore, look either way and say something to the effect of, ‘i do not see it!’ Yes, I know.  I wouldn’t ask be asking or talking to you if I could see it.  My patience was growing thin.

One person would say it probably went out the western pass.  Another would say it might be at the school where the land bends south.  Another reiterated some of the people on the dock by saying it might be at the blue lagoon.  Each time I said merci, asked them to tell the gendarmarie, the police, if they heard of anyone finding it, and continue trudging on my way.

At about 5 pm, I had made it to the other pass.  Resignation beset me, Our dinghy was lost.  Misadventure part 2: failure.

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