Niue ” The death of a dream”

Thursday 9/5/2013 19:30 19 03.204 S 169 55.384 W Posting by Dennis: It was earlier this morning and I was still sleeping in the salon because it was to rolly on the mooring to sleep in the vee birth when I heard “PAN PAN we are on the reef” on the VHF radio. I was fully awake instantly and was in the dinghy and heading for the catamaran Blue Marble which was indeed on the reef. I raced over with the engine wide open and the prop coming out of the as I flew of the tops of the waves. When I got there they had a line two guys were trying to untangle as two more guys were trying to get an anchor off the stern to keep it from going farther on to the reef. They asked if I had any more line so I took off back to the boat and yelled to Barb to grab the bag with the shore line in it. She grabbed the bag and literally threw it into the dinghy and I raced off back to Blue Marble. I was back there even before they had the line untangled. I threw the end of the line to the guys and they tied it onto the line that they had run out from the boat. I was about to bring it out to a fishing boat when a huge crane and an aluminum tug boat showed up on the wharf. It took them less than ten minutes to launch the tug and get over to us. I ran the line out to them and they tied it off. They started to pull and the line went fiddle sting tight. I was just waiting for the line to snap. When it did it was not my line that broke but the line that they had run out from the boat. So I ran out to the tug with the dinghy and ran the line back in to Blue Marble. This time the tug gave it even more power. All at once there was a loud pow and three cleats that they attached the line to all broke with pieces flying everywhere. Blue Marble did not move at all so it was decided that they would leave it sit there and wait for the tide to rise so it could be floated off. In the meantime about fifteen local guys worked very hard to attach floats to the outside of the hull to add extra floatation. Barb and I went to the Wharf and it was so sad to see the people off Blue marble. They all had such a lost look they had all just lost their home for the last year. They were all in total shock and disbelief. Blue Marble’s crew/owners were a delightful group of eight to ten young people from Norway, who each put in a share of money and bought the boat. We had seen them in a couple of anchorages and had talked to them just the day before. Most of them had taken a year off from their jobs or had just quit to take on the adventure. At around three o’clock I asked the chief of police if there was anything else that I could do to help. He said that they would need someone to bring things between the tug and shore. So I left in the dinghy and headed back over to where Blue Marble laid. I ended up ferrying lines in and out a few times. It is really hard bringing your dinghy into the surf and then trying to reverse when the big swells come and then off loading straps and lines before the next swell hits. When the tug started to pull and the boat did not move and then a bigger swell came in and you could see the boat start to move such a little bit. So they just kept pressure up and slowly the boat inched out when the waves would roll in and float it up off the reef. Once off the reef they towed it over to the wharf which had three foot swell slamming into. I had to be the tug boat and push sideways on the boat to push it over to the dock. The waves were smashing it hard against the concrete wharf and the entire boat would shudder as it hooked on the wharf. The boat was rising and falling at least four feet as the waves rolled under it. The boat was taking on water and you could smell diesel fuel so it was determined that they would try and lift it out. A set of slings were fed under the boat as the thing was being literally smashed to pieces. I watched in horror as I saw three of the stanchions being ripped off the boat. The first time they tried to lift it the straps for the front were too long and the boat just about got dumped on its nose. So they lowered it back down and instead of shorting the straps they just slid them forward almost to the bow. A catamaran is not designed to have that kind of pressure put on the hulls. As soon as they started to lift it I jumped off and moved back. But it did not crush and the guy running the crane was very gentle and eased it up and onto the wharf. Once it was up you could see the massive damage. The rudders were gone, the saildrives were broke and sitting at odd angle with blades gone off the props, the keels were totally gone sheared off flush with the hulls. There were hole in the hull were it had banged on the reef on both hulls. I am sure that the boat will be totaled. The people on the Blue Marble did nothing wrong at all, the boat was still attached to the mooring ball when it was sitting on the reef. Apparently the pin on the shackle where the pendent attaches to the anchor sheared off. So it was in no way their fault, they had no way of knowing. It just makes me think that it could have been me just as easily. I am on a mooring ball just like they were and I wonder if sooner or later my time will come no matter how anal I am. I just can’t tell you how it feels to see someone’s dream die.

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2 Responses to Niue ” The death of a dream”

  1. Bill Merrill says:

    Disasters are often the sum of several things gone wrong, which is why any of us are still around, I think. But sometimes it’s just one thing gone wrong, and that really gives you pause. All we can do is stay vigilant, I reckon.

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