Weather Helmed

an adventure in renewing the spirit and living the dream…on a sailboat

Weather Helmed

This is the life – Part II: Slurpee Returns (Rangiroa, July 11)

July 11th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Adventures in the Dinghy, Famous Firsts, French Polynesia, Life on the Boat, Somebody likes us, Tuamotus

Yesterday Jon walked around for approximately ten hours, beating a path along the lagoon edge, knocking on doors and miming the story of our missing dinghy.  By the time he returned to the boat, bumming a ride from another cruiser, all of Rangiroa between the two northern passes knew that Syzygy had lost its tender.  Unfortunately, none of them had seen it.

Jon came back to the boat exhausted, starved and slightly sunburned, feeling like his day wasn’t exactly what you might call a success.  And last night, as the wind continued to blow and I imagined our dinghy halfway to Tahitit, I, too, lost hope that Slurpee would be recovered.

BUT – this morning, after watching the eclipse through our awesome 3D-style glasses (it was about 85-90% where we were), we were hailed by the local gendarmerie on the VHF.

Someone had found our dinghy.

Since we had spent all morning staring at the sky, we were still in our “bed clothes” and hadn’t eaten anything, so it was a mad rush to get ready, find rides to shore, and make our way to the village.  As it happened, some of the gendarmerie pulled up to the wharf – for some reason – just as we were dropped off by a new friend.  We’d had to blow up the kayak since our friend’s dinghy could only handle three people and we would make 4, so Jon paddled in and then we all hopped in the gendarmerie’s van, looking like criminals as we sat huddled in the back seat.

They explained that our dinghy had been discovered by a local hotel proprietor as he was traveling around the lagoon.  Apparently there is an area called “The Blue Lagoon” on the western side of the atoll, a well known dive spot and would-be popular anchorage were it not for the dangerous reefs and lee shore.  The Blue Lagoon, as it turns out, is essentially the local lost and found.  Jon had been told by a few people that all sorts of things people lose overboard generally end up there sooner or later.  And that’s where Slurpee was.

We went through the rigamarole of checking in with the gendarmerie and then the chief of police drove us to the hotel where the dinghy was tied up.  Surprisingly, Slurpee was in pretty good shape!  The pontoons were still fully inflated, no holes or leaks, the engine was still onboard, and – shockingly – so were the snorkeling gear and the oars!  The gas tank and attachment were strangely missing, considering that everything else was there, but we figured that if that was the “finder’s fee,” we were getting off easy, and it also could have just floated away.  The gendarmerie made a comment that we didn’t quite understand, but more or less understood to mean that our dinghy may or may not have been turned upside at some point.  That meant that there would be salt water in the engine.  Whatever.  It didn’t work before anyway.

So, seeing as how we were over 2 miles from our boat, we discussed how to get Slurpee back home.  Our options were to attempt to row it back or potentially deflate it and load it into a taxi then see if we could scam someone to giving us a ride from the wharf to the boat.  The guys decided we should try to row.  “Think of it as a team building exercise,” Matt says optimistically.  Half an hour later when we are maybe 100 yards from where we started, and we’re alternating rowing and bailing out water, Matt announces, “Forget it.  This just isn’t going to work.”  We push forward nonetheless.  Eventually Jon jumps out, ties the painter line around his waist and starts to swim in an attempt to pull the dinghy along.  I make a lame effort to row while Matt slips out the back into the water and tries to push us.  We are quite the spectacle.

We are barely gaining headway, the dinghy taking on more and more water while we try to bail with the lid of the outboard and a snorkeling mask, when another cruising couple drives by in their tender.  They look at us curiously, then approach to ask if we would like some help.  We hem and haw a little bit, feeling bad because they were on their way to go have a nice lunch somewhere, but they end the discussion by looking at our pathetic set up and saying, “We simply cannot leave you like this.”  They take our line and set us up for a tow.

It’s a long way back to the boat.

A really long way.

Even with them towing us, it still took over an hour to reach the anchorage.  Had we continued the way we were, I honestly don’t think we would have made it by nightfall.  However, had we continued the way we were, we eventually would have wizened up, went to shore and got the taxi!  We thanked our tow profusely, trying to give them everything from gas to books to canned chicken (that one was a joke!), but they graciously only accepted a bottle of wine and our aggressive gratitude.

So Slurpee is back home, once again slurping at the waves behind the boat and I have to say I’m not entirely glad to see him.  I mean, expense aside, I was kind of getting excited at the thought of getting a new dinghy – one that didn’t leak and had a reliable engine, one that I actually felt comfortable taking to and from land by myself.  But, I am very very very thankful that, despite the odds, our dinghy has been recovered and we now have more options as to how to proceed, and I’m also very happy and thankful that the possibility of getting a new tender is still on the table.  🙂

Tags: ·

One Comment so far ↓

  • edith

    Karen!!! – hey girl… love reading your posts. Tomorrow is my last day at MNLB but will keep in touch…

Leave a Comment