September 05, 2010

4 Minute Fix

We woke up Friday morning in Mopelia (our final French Poly isle) and we readied Artemo for departure to the Cook Islands. At about 9am we listened to the weather on the morning SSB net. We heard that there were basically two camps on how the weather was shaping up. Some felt that it would be fantastic sailing conditions with about 15 to 20 knots of winds and others felt that it would be kicking up to 25 to 30 with thunderstorms and showers. The various weather sites were contradicting each other. We conversed with our friends on Simpatica and Ceol Mor and Graham and I decided that we really weren't in a hurry, so why take any risk of crappy weather. We got out monopoly and started the kettle for our morning tea. At about 10am we got a call from both Simpatica and Ceol Mor letting us know they had decided to go. Louis made some good points. He said that if we waited for a few days we might have light winds but we would have huge seas from the high winds previously. I was tempted to go but we continued to play. Once we saw them both pulling anchor both Alex and Graham were wanting to go to. We decided why not and away we went.

We had to first travel across the wide open lagoon which is riddled with abandoned oyster farms. These are basically many buoys attached with ropes. It would be a very bad day if we snagged one of these ropes around our propeller. Alex was at the front and Graham was up on the Granny bars and they were both yelling directions at me......"Hard Port....Neutral....Starboard....forward now". A bit stressful. The other thing was that we wanted to stay close behind Simpatica and Ceol Mor since then we could follow their tracks through the very NARROW and dangerous pass. I noticed we were falling behind so I gave Artemo a bit more juice. We were quickly approaching the reef surrounding the atoll. The wind was directly behind us at about 20knots. All of a sudden the boat just stopped going!!! Even though I had it in full throttle, we weren't getting any power. I was terrified. We still had plenty of forward motion since we had been going so fast and since we had no throttle we had no steerage. The reef was so close. I yelled to Graham...."We have no power, no power!!! The throttle is full on and we are getting NOTHING!!"

Graham jumped down below and began assessing the problem. I radioed our friends and let them no we had no motor. Simpatica was already through the pass but Ceol Mor had enough time to abandon there go at it and circle back to us. I wasn't sure what assistance they could provide but I was happy to know they were there. I told Ceol Mor I was giving Graham 2 minutes and then he was going to have to get up on deck and we were going to have to go sail back to the anchorage. The problem was that the reef was very close and we would be going pretty much directly at the wind to the anchorage.

Now this is the unbelievable part....within 4 minutes Graham had the stairs off, the door to the engine room open, the problem discovered and a new throttle pin lock wired on. Just as I am beginning to have a full on panic attack....he says the words I have come to love..."All fixed!" It wasn't a moment to soon. I gave it some throttle and voila. Unfortunately now as my heart is still racing, we have to navigate the trickiest pass in the French Poly. It is basically a narrow zig zag with reef lining both sides. I shudder to think what would of happened if we had lost our throttle 5 minutes later. Graham says that he could of just gave us throttle from below with his hands without installing the fix. It still freaked me out.

Once we were out of the pass Louis from Simpatica called over and asked us if it was Friday.....OMG. I couldn't believe it. It was Friday. We have a rule on Artemo. We never set out on a Friday. Louis is always joking about how we are superstitious that way. Go figure!

Once we were out the fun continued. We have our old main sail on and she is a wee bit wrinkly so she sometimes gets bunged up in the furling. This was the case today and we proceeded to spend the next few hours with Graham up the mast in rolly seas and Alex and I working the lines trying to get her out.

We said our goodbye's at sea to Simpatica and Ceol Mor. We are all heading to different Cook Islands. We have had unsettled weather. Last night as I was sitting alone in the dark on the cockpit floor in full rain gear, cold and tired....I thought...these are the pictures you don't see. Ha. Artemo is safe and sound in the big wind. We just reef her down and she handles great. It just isn't any fun though. You wish and wish for it to be over. We have had two nights of weather like that but luckily the days have been nice. We are thinking we will arrive in Palmerston on Tuesday.

Today we celebrated Alex's birthday on board. He popped his head up on deck at about 6:30am this morning. He was all excited. He looked the total opposite of how I was feeling but I tried really hard to be excited with him. I let him know we had a rough night and asked if he might give Dad and I a few more hours sleep before we got into presents and breakfast....being the very mature 14 year old he is he totally understood. At about 8 we all got up and watched as he opened his gifts. Amelia made him 3 different necklaces and we gave him a mars bar, huba bubba, gummy bears and kinder surprise. Amelia wrapped each one individually. We then let him know that we were going to pay for a chartered dive for him in Nuie. We downloaded all the brochures on the computer and right now he is reviewing all the different options. He said that he is totally satisfied! Graham made eggs benedict for breakfast and the day has shaped up pretty good.

How lucky am I to have a guy who can fix a throttle in 4 minutes AND make eggs benedict?


  1. From what I have read Palmerston residents are all desendents of one man, William Marsters who had five wives and many many children. Facinating story and the island looks beautiful. Enjoy

  2. Happy belated birthday Alex. I can hardly believe you are 14 already.
    It sounds like you enjoyed your birthday and your gifts.

    Yes Julie you are very lucky to have a man who likes to cook. Would you believe I have never made eggs benedict before or even tried it.

    It also sounds like your quite the sailor. I could just picture you freaking out (with good reason)and then graham getting the problem fixed.

    Cant wait to hear your next adventure in Palmerston.