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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Misadventure Overcome By Marquesan Generosity

Boat maintenance and repair, sailing misadventures, Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia
Our bow anchor platform, after it snapped off in
Hiva Oa’s Tahauku Baie, Marquesas, French Polynesia.
There’s smooth sailing… and there’s (mis)adventures.  Of late, we seem to revel, unwittingly, in the latter.  Here’s what happened on Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia.

6:00 pm, May 5, 2015
After over a 2 week’s stay in Hiva Oa, Marquesas, Tahauku Baie we were ready to move on, and the wind conditions for the 45-mile run to Fatu Hiva were good.  We relocated to a less crowded part of the bay where we had enough room to swing more freely on our anchor.  Wayne pulled the stern anchor (leaving our bow anchor) and cleaned the cockpit from silty mud from stern anchor and its line and hoisted our dinghy onto its davits, ready for passage.  I made sure the cabin was ship-shape – everything properly secured so nothing would take flight in case of rock-n-roll, then set the alarms (we are fans of redundancy) for ½ hour before first light; 5:00 am.

Liberty Call, parked nearby in Tahauku Baie
offered a great photo-ready model of
what we could use to resurrect our bow roller.
5:30 am, May 6, 2015
Captain Wayne at the bow directs me to “Go straight.”  I misinterpreted Wayne’s direction as “Go forward.”   Without realizing it, we rapidly overtake our bow chain and snap Journey’s Bow anchor platform taut.

5:31 am May 6, 2015, Thursday
Journey’s bow anchor platform shatters, drops off into the opaque waters with its essential bow roller into Tahauku Baie.  Thus ends our planned trip from Tahauku to Fatu Hiva.  I am mortified at the extent of damage my few split seconds of stupidity caused and humbled by Wayne’s forgiving grace.  Have a chaihe suggested, gently (and it helped).  He’d planned to replace our aging bow platform in another 6 months in New Zealand, though hoped it would last until then.

sailing misadventures south pacific

John Ozanne’s rearview mirror, cross and
prayer beads give a subtle hint of his kindness.
Later… May 6, 2015
We review our temporary repair options, depending on what roller was available to guide the anchor chain via our windlass (used to raise and lower our anchor). We also discover it’s the eve of an “everything’s closed!” three-day-holiday-weekend, so there’s not a lot of time to solidify our decision if we plan to leave in the next few days.  Our options….







1.    Find our roller in the opaque waters Tahauku Baie and resurrect it onto a newly created wooden extension of Journey’s bow anchor platform, perhaps coated in resin. 

2.    See what viable alternative roller is available at Hiva Oa’s Atuona hardware store and secure it into a newly created, custom-made welded metal channel, bolted onto our existing bow anchor platform. We visit the hardware store and their only available roller is not very robust.  We’re not too keen on it. 

3.    We bump into Alison and Randall of Tregoing in town, and share our woes.  Miraculously, they have a spare roller, which potentially becomes an additional option.  They say they’ll be back aboard their boat early afternoon.

marquesas local, sailing misadventures south pacific

Don, a professional Hiva Oa Atuona welder, makes
the first cut for our temporary bow anchor platform channel
using the saw from John’s brother-in-law.
Wayne gets into the dinghy and sets me up with a regulator off a long hose from the dinghy.  The water is so opaque I can scarcely see my own hands.  I feel my way blindly from our anchor chain down, descending 12 feet to our anchor.  I make a preliminary “Braille” search along the surrounding fine silt bottom for our bow anchor roller.  No luck.  I tie a rope to our anchor and use it as a guide for a set of concentric circular bottom tours.  No luck, though nearly entangle myself in a large chain link and barbed bundle on the bottom.  After sucking down a substantial portion of the air in one of our SCUBA tanks, I give up. 

We await Alison and Randall of Tregoing’s return.  As promised, they are indeed back early afternoon.  They give Wayne their spare bow roller, refusing anything in return besides bidding us to “pay it forward.”  Wayne promises we will do our best.

marquesas local, sailing misadventures south pacific

Don pokes behind a curtain of delivery sacks to procure with
the perfect materials for our makeshift bow anchor platform channel.
On VHF channel 72, Wayne hails John Ozanne, Marquesas guide extraordinaire* and asks him if he can connect us with someone locally capable of doing the welding required.  He says he can.   Within 45 minutes, by 3:30 pm John picks us up, takes us back to the hardware store for the material (bolt, pair of nuts and washers and a long strip of galvanized metal) we need to build the bow anchor channel (bolt to run through the roller, pair of nuts and washers to hold it in place and a long strip of galvanized metal), then to his friend Don’s home. 

*watch for another post on John’s excellent Hiva Oa tour

Don’s a professional welder, the welding expert employed by the local Atuona community.  Don provides two metal pieces far better suited than what we purchased at the hardware store.  Most of Don’s tools, however, are unavailable as they are locked up for the holiday weekend at work.  Mostly, Don doesn’t have a saw required to cut the pieces needed or a drill for the roller bolt holes or those needed to bolt it to our remaining bow anchor platform.  Wayne has a drill, and John heads for his distant Hana Menu home, where he has a saw.  He stops along the way at his brother-in-law’s, whose home’s just a mile or so from Don’s, Fortunately, he’s home and willing to loan us his Makita saw. 

marquesas local, sailing misadventures south pacific

Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, Don finds yet another
scrap to make just the right modifications.
Upon our return, Don apologizes profusely for not having access to the full tools to complete the job for us.  His wife offers us coffee, chairs and presents us with a bag of passion fruit from her lovely garden.

By dusk, the channel, except the holes Wayne can drill with the drill he has aboard, is complete.  Don even loans us his drill bit, as Wayne’s are a bit too small for the task.  Another cruiser loans us his drill, to better fit the larger bit we borrowed from Don for the roller bolt holes.

Don refuses any payment, though he does accept the metal strip we bought from the hardware store for potential future projects.  If we had shotgun casings (we didn’t) he would’ve happily taken them for hunting.  Don planned to hunt the next day, and the yachties are generally the only source for casings. 

marquesas local, south pacific

Don and Wayne ponder the modification details required
to make the temporary bow anchor platform channel work.
“Beer,” John suggests when we ask him what Don might willingly accept as a thank you as we are unable to provide casings.  We promise to deliver John beer for Don, hoping the stores are not all closed for Labor Day.

marquesas local, south pacific
John first used his foot, and now his hands to hold pieces
into place while Don first sawed, then welded.
It’s dark when John returns the saw to his brother-in-law, then takes us back to our dinghy.  He also refuses payment, though he regrets we don’t have any casings for his recently purchased 45 caliber pistol.  We are not surprised he turns down our offer to take him out as a thank you then, given how much of his time we’d already taken.

marquesas local, south pacific
Steam rises as Don hoses down the
just welded too-hot-too-handle
u-shaped bow anchor channel base.
We are truly humbled by the kindness and generosity of Marquesans in general and by John and Don especially.   In our 2 ½ weeks in Hiva Oa, we thumbed many a ride, crashed a local wedding, enjoyed the public shower and sink for laundry, and shopped, all the while stumbling through our thanks in poor French (and no Marquesan).

marquesas local, south pacific
Sparks flew like orange fireworks while Don
welded and buffed away.
If ever you feel the need to restore your faith in the sheer goodness of humanity, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place for it than the Marquesas.   Fatu Hiva, Tuahata and Nuku Hiva are all more greatly revered in guide books for their spectacular scenery.  Still, the stunning tropical splendor of Hiva Oa’s captured a special place in our heart, though it pales in comparison to the inner beauty of its people.   And our fellow cruisers are pretty awesome, too.

marquesas local, sailing misadventures south pacific
Temporary bow anchor platform repair done and bolted in place.
Location Location
Written while still anchored in Hiva Oa’s Tahauku Bay  (S 9.48.260 W139.01.824), Marquesas, French Polynesia; prescheduled while in Fatu Hiva (S10.47.854 W138.40.053).  Here, we experienced strong gusts and many other boats dragging anchor.  The new bow roller platform works like a champ - better than what it replaced!  By the time this runs, we expect to be on Tahuata, our third Marquesas island.  We're not sure if there's working internet there, or the following anchorage back at Hiva Oa's Hana Menu anchorage.