Arion III

The other route out of this kind of trouble, obviously, is to get the boat back to the edge of the reef and through the surf. We had figured this would be impossible without outside help, until we heard the story of Dee Dee and Emory Moore's experience on the reef at Taka Lambaena in the central Indonesian archipelago.

The Moores had been sailing for a lot of years. Dee Dee was one of the terrors of Newport Bay in her Southern California racing days, while Emory cultivated his bedside manner as a top cancer surgeon. When the Moores decided to go cruising, they had a Bill Lapworth-designed Cal 2-46 built to their specifications. With roller-furling headsails, a modest rig, and a GM 4 53 diesel turning a three-blade 26-inch (63-millimeter) propeller, she was a conservative boat, easily sailed by a couple in their 60s. When we first met them we were in our mid-thirties and were in awe that these folks, almost old enough to be our own grandparents, could cruise on their own (now that we are grandparents ourselves we have a different view of what constitutes old age!)

They were heading for Singapore, with Dee Dee handling the navigating. Not having had a sight for awhile, both she and Emory were on deck keeping watch. They were aiming for the center of a 10-mile-wide pass. Taking visual bearings on Kompo Isle in the early morning mist, they thought they were clear. Emory wasn't feeling well, and at the end of his watch went below. Not much later the sun peeked through for a moment and Dee Dee raced to get her sextant. The sight recorded, she considered asking Emory to come back on deck while she worked it, but he was resting peacefully and she decided not to disturb him.

Arrion III was sailing along under full main with the No. 1 genoa rolled down to 110 percent in a 20-knot southeast tradewind. The autopilot not working, they were using their Sayes self-steering rig with marginal results.

Toward the end of her worksheet, when she was just about through with the sight reduction tables, Dee Dee felt Arion III round up slightly. With horror she realized that the water through the starboard windows had changed color, and in a matter of seconds had run the gamut of blue, green, brown—then, slam! They were hard on a fringing reef with a tradewind sea breaking over the boat.

Rushing on deck, she threw the sheets off, then tried to free the stern anchor from its chock. The release pin was frozen. The engine was thrown into reverse, but to no avail.

Within minutes they were 50 feet (15 meters) in from the edge of the reef with seas breaking over the stern. While Emory shipped the self-steering rig and dropped the sails. Dee Dee got off an SOS on the 15-meter band ham radio, which was received in Guam. A group of amateur radio operators stood by to monitor the situation.

At this point in the story, Emory said, "I was starting to plan our new boat." That would have been our own reaction as well, but Dee Dee wasn't about to let that "goddamned Indonesian reef' beat her. Putting their eight-foot (2.4-meter) Avon dink over the side, they decided to try to set the anchor and winch themselves off. Bringing the Avon around Arion IITs stern, they found the seas too rough to transfer their 35-pound (16-kilogram) CQR anchor. The Avon was moved amidships and tied fore and aft. They laid the anchor in the bow and the chain in the stern. Using her seven-foot (2.1-meter) stoppered oars, Dee Dee rowed this blunt nosed little inflatable, towing a one-inch (24.6-millimeter) nylon rode through the breaking surf. Gaining the edge of the reef, she paused to drop the anchor and chain, only to be blown back into the break before she could get the anchor over the side. Once again, now rowing at an oblique angle to the waves, she worked her way seaward and this time succeeded in dropping the hook over the vertical edge of the fringing reef.

When Dee Dee got back aboard Arion III, exhausted, she and Emory started to grind in on their No. 28 Barient two-speed cockpit winch.

With the tide rising, they felt a first tentative thump, as Arion ///eased toward deep water against the spring-like tension of the stretched nylon anchor warp. For hours they cranked and rested, then cranked again. Gradually, they began to edge into deeper water. An occasional wave, bigger than the others, would give them extra lift and a few additional feet of seaward progress. By early afternoon they fired up the engine, and with 100 horsepower working in tandem with the primary winch, they began to make real progress through the surf. Resting for a moment, they decided that on thefinal lung the anchor rode would have to be cut free so that it wouldn 't foul the propeller. Their strength somewhat recovered, they gave a last effort, revved the engine up to full reverse, and cut the rode. With a final bounce they were free of the coral and backing out to sea.

The damage sustained by their fiberglass hull was superficial, and their spade rudder, although it was abraded and had shifted the quadrant, was in good condition.

By saving their vessel without outside aid in such a difficult situation, Dee Dee and Emory Moore set a brilliant example of what determination and seamanship can do.

The most interesting technical aspect of this story is the dropping of the anchor over the face of a reef. We had never considered this approach to working out of a fringing reef grounding, but as we've seen, it's a valid method.

It may be that help is available to pull you off, and in this situation a bridle will have to be rigged that can take enormous loads without doing major damage to the boat.

The key to success for the Moores in saving Arion III was two-fold. First, they acted quickly to get the boat off the reef. Second, Dee Dee was able to row their inflatable out through the surf. Note that in this sort of situation it is necessary to row well past the point where you want the anchor to end up—here over the face of the reef. Rowing past the reef face allows room for the anchor to drift back without ending up back in shallow water.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment