Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ahe

Nice downwind on 1-day passage (courtesy of SV Jabula)

At 10:30, we left Manihi for a daytime passage to Ahe, our next atoll in the Tuamotus. Our friends, Bruce and Jeannie (SV Jabula) left at the same time which turned out to be a fortunate thing because of a mishap when we started into the entrance pass of Ahe.

Jordan had furled the sail as we wanted to motor in. Unfortunately, there had been a miscommunication between the two of us - I said I've got it meaning that I was going to turn the valve that opens the exhaust. Jordan thought I meant I had completed turning the valve so it was okay to start the engine. He turned on the key and the muffler blew apart, spraying sea water and filling the engine compartment with fumes which began choking and stalling the motor!

In a frenzy, the engine was turned off and Jordan dropped the anchor at the pass entrance in a stiff breeze with an opposing current next to several coral heads. We radioed our emergency to Bruce and Jeannie who were right behind us. They suggested a tow and readied a line.

We pulled anchor, no easy chore without a motor in strong currents, and they tossed us a line which we secured just as the current drifted us perilously close to the reef (we registered less than 1 metre below our keel) and they began the tow through the pass. The rip and opposing wind had us bashing into short steep waves, and with each, our bowsprit buried itself and gave us green water over the decks. But we persisted as it was a short distance till we were out of the rip.

Sea Turtle being towed by Jabula

Jabula and Sea Turtle were both able to raise a bit of a headsail to take the strain off the towrope; we finished the day as the sun was sinking crossing the lagoon to anchor in front of the little village of Ahe by 2 other boats at 16:30 (S14°32.248' W146°21.480'). Mission well done - Thanks Jabula!

That evening, Jordan opened up the engine compartment and without too much of a problem remedied the muffler within the hour. Fortunately, the muffler was designed to blow apart and be reassembled.

Ahe has a small village with paved roads, nice concrete dinghy dock, and several coral heads in the anchorage area. We had to watch carefully when dropping our anchor under tow. Other than a small magasin (grocery and knick knack store), there were no amenities.

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