July 7, 2012
Makemo Atoll, Tuamotu, French Polynesia, South Pacific Ocean
Anchored: 16°37.6288 S 143°34.2174 W
Friday night, med moored to the Pouheva Wharf here at Makemo, was a bit noisy. As in much of French Polynesia, the town Wharf seems to be a popular late night hangout for locals. Several groups of revelers definitely brought the party with boom boxes thumping out everything from techno to 80's glam rock. Early in the evening a small rock skittered along the deck of LightSpeed, which I was not happy about, but just decided to ignore and go back to sleep. Around 12:30AM the party showing increasing vigor and volume woke me up, so I blocked out the noise with some ear plugs and got back to sleep. Around 3:30 AM, Kathy who was up for a bathroom break and gave an urgent shout that "the bow lines had been cut" (the ones securing LightSpeed to the Wharf) and that we were in grave danger of grounding on a reef.
Adrenaline pumping and with no time to even put on a few clothes, Kathy and I quickly surveyed the surrounding shoals and I got the engines running. Luckily, we weren't aground and had fetched up on the stern anchor. We were nearly surround by shallow coral patches, many of which were awash and extremely dangerous. I was afraid to maneuver under power as it was certain that we'd strike coral with the propellers and likely damage the keels and rudders in the process. In water this shallow, we could have jumped in and pushed the boat and I was pretty sure we'd need to before we got out of this jam. Kathy suggested we begin by pulling the boat upwind to deeper water by hauling in on the stern anchor. It was not easy to hand over hand the line pulling the boat backward into the wind and several times we'd stop and hold our breath as the boat swung dangerously close to the shoal coral heads. Literally, at the end of our rope and over the top of the stern anchor we hauled the anchor aboard and I jumped to the controls and gingerly engaged the engines swinging the boat for deeper water. Expecting at any moment to hear a disastrous crunching noise, we somehow escaped the shallows.
After the anger subsided, I was feeling really disappointed. My fundamental faith in the goodness of my fellow man and specifically the exalted status in which I held South Pacific islanders was forever tarnished. I sure didn't like the disconcerting implications this might have. My subconscious mind would surely hold on to this treasonous act and might it subtly effect my faith in humanity? What thoughts might pass through my head the next time I lay down to sleep tied to the many wharfs in my future?
We headed to town to do a little shopping and I kept looking in to the kind eyes of the locals we pass and silently wondered is this the guy? I knew we'd need to sail from Makemo and put this experience in our wake as soon as possible.
Manaspot internet service is down and internet access is not available at the Post Office computer terminals nor via WIFI into the anchorage. Pre-paid access cards were available at the Post Office. Internet access IS available in town at the restaurant and pizza place next to the big grocery store. We found the large grocery store to be extremely well stocked and nearly equal in selection to those grocery stores found in the Marquesas. Gasoline and Diesel are available with diesel running 168xpf per liter. OUCH!(~$7USD/Gallon) A free ride was offered to get our jugs back to the wharf.
On a more positive note, we made three drift dives through Passe Arikitamiro with our friend Henrick from s/v Misty. We found the eastern side of the pass more diverse and interesting.
We need to get underway, so that's it for now.
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