Friday, May 28, 2010

Our arrival in Tahiti.

After our brief stop in the Tuamotu we set course to the Society Islands and for our first stopover we chose the most known of them all namely; Tahiti and more precisely the town of Papeete. The island is simply charming. The town is clean and consequently expensive. However it is worth the expense. Not knowing the place we spent the first days at the Yacht Dock (Le quai des yachts) at the center of Papeete. Besides the fact that the docks are expensive, $50 per night, they had the brilliant idea of implementing a docking system quite popular in Europe called the Med Mooring. It may be routine for a European to use that system but for us North-American it was the first time we faced that monstrosity. In a nutshell it is a long dock to which we attach the stern of the boat on cleats located on the dock while the bow is attached to a heavy chain at the bottom of the water through mooring lines also underwater. To retrieve those mooring lines they attached them to smaller guide lines that run to the dock. The distance between each guide line is about 12 feet (4m) and since our boat is 21 feet (7m) wide we had one guide line on each side and of course one guide line in the middle under the boat. Any boat owner knows that the worst thing to have close to a boat while the propellers are running is precisely a line in the water! I was at the wheel while Danielle was taking care of grabbing the lines and attaching them. Everything was going well but the fact we had a side wind. Danielle caught the first guide line and rushed forward to attach the mooring line to the boat. But the maneuver took too long and the boat started to drift aside and the damn guide line started to push on the railing threatening to bind it. I had to do something but a boat, even with two engines, it doesn’t move sideways. All I could do was to turn the boat to release the pressure on the railing. With the mooring line already attached at the bow, the front of the boat stayed there while the stern started to move sideways. This is what I wanted but now we had a guide line running in the center of the boat and of course it caught itself in the rudder. I immediately stopped the propeller on that side and I ended up with one side of the boat attached at the front and a line stuck in the rudder and likely in the propeller as well! I told Danielle, Ok that’s it we stop everything. We untied the mooring line at the front and managed to position the boat on the side along the dock and to secure it in that position. I dove to inspect the propeller and sure enough the guide line was wrapped around it. Fortunately there were no damages and 10 minutes of work later the propeller was free. We tried a second time but this time we tied the stern lines to the dock first then I put the engine forward which kept the boat steady while we attached the mooring lines at the bow. But this was not the end of our misery. Danielle pulled quickly the guide lines being very careful not to catch them in the running propellers. But she didn’t notice immediately that the damn line, invented by the devil himself, were covered with small razor sharp shells. After the mooring lines were properly attached and the boat well secured Danielle, who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown after a mooring procedure probably devised by the German experts in mental torture during WWII, stood on the deck with both hands in front of her with her blood gushing on her feet. Her fingers had been literally lacerated by the shells and were hemorrhaging. I ran inside and brought back bandages and some disinfectant. We cleaned the cuts thoroughly and stopped the bleeding. At the end the cuts were not very deep but there were many and it took a few days for Danielle to fully recover the usage of her hands. If I ever get my hand on the moron who came up with that system I think I’ll take his stupid shells covered line and wrap it around his balls!