Near Miss

Those two little words seem so innocuous in common speech, but every mariner knows immediately that a near miss is a disaster narrowly averted. That’s how we started our day today – with a near miss. It’s more than ironic that I just waxed so rhapsodic about having a Bora Bora Yacht Club mooring during the past few days of intense weather, only to have things go really wrong last night. Before I tell you the whole story though, let me assure you that Mark, Michelle and Cheers are all fine. No injuries, no damages and no lasting mental trauma, just an overwhelming sense in both of us that someone, somewhere is looking out for us. After we were securely moored once again, we stopped to say a quick thank you to Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, whose Greek Orthodox icon we were given by dear Greek friends, and which adorns the bulkhead of our main saloon.

Here’s the story. I’ve already told you about the crazy winds of the past few days, and about how close we swung to one of our neighbors, but we’d been watching things for more than three days, and were satisfied with the mooring we’d taken. So, last night we took the dinghy around the point to the south of us, to have dinner with our Swiss friends Yvonne and Bruno, on S/Y Momo. The wind picked up during dinner, so we called it an early night, and were back aboard Cheers by 8:30 p.m. We were both pretty tired, as we haven’t been getting great sleep with the gusty winds, and hit the rack early. Around 3 a.m., Mark heard something that alerted his Captain-sense, and went up on deck to have a look around. At about 3:05, he came back down below, and calmly announced, “Sweetie, our mooring broke, and we’re adrift. I need you to get up.” Those of you who have worked with Mark, or know him well, can imagine exactly that calm, cool delivery. That’s the voice that always let me know to snap to it, because it’s really an emergency.

So, in approximately two and a half seconds, I went from deep sleep to on deck in my jammies, flipping on instruments and asking if I could start the engine. Mark already had the radar warming up, and the masthead strobe flashing to alert anybody that might be watching that we were adrift and getting things figured out. I got the GPS and depth sounder turned on, while Mark fired up the electronic chart and pulled the paper chart out of the nav station. Engine on, switch to running lights and, of course, this would be the one moment when our nav computer and GPS didn’t want to talk to each other! So Mark used his years of experience to figure out right where we were using the paper chart and radar. Winds were still blowing 20 knots and gusting to 30, so we slowly crept back in to the small cove where we’d been moored, and anchored behind the fleet of yachts, in about 90 feet of water. Thankfully, the bottom here is fine coral sand, so the holding was FABULOUS! We put out most of our 300 feet of chain with our trusty 45-pound CQR anchor, and held through to dawn. As I’m sure you can imagine, Mark couldn’t go back to sleep, so he stood an anchor watch, while I curled up on the couch (settee) for a short nap. We both went out on deck to watch an amazing sunrise, preceded by a view of the crescent moon very near Venus, Jupiter and the star Aldebaran – really beautiful.

So, long story short, this is the closest we’ve ever come to losing Cheers, but, as the saying goes, “all’s well that ends well”, and we’re all fine. Mark and I have spent the day marveling that we didn’t hit even a corner of the EIGHT boats we drifted by… or the first reef that’s just to the south of us… or the reef next to the main channel that was just a quarter mile away from us when we fired up the engine… Like I said, someone is watching out for us, no doubt about it. So, thank you dear friends and family for your kind and supportive thoughts, they really mean the world to us.

This will be our last post from French Polynesia, as we’ve decided to head west tomorrow. Looks like we’ve got good winds for the next week, so it’s time to take advantage of them and go. A few Australian boats left today, and there are several more of us leaving tomorrow, followed by another contingent on Wednesday. We’ll post our position every day, and make blog posts whenever wind and seas allow time at the computer. For the moment, we’re planning to head for Suwarrow Atoll, located at 13 degrees 17 minutes South, 163 degrees 8 minutes West, but the wind, seas and weather forecast may cause us to change our minds and head straight for Tonga – we’ll keep you posted. Please enjoy this last set of photos from the Society Islands, and wish us fair winds and following seas.

Hoping all is well in your corner of the world, Michelle

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Posted on July 17, 2012, in French Polynesia, Society Islands and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. So glad you’re well! Thanks for taking us all along!

  2. Breathe in deep…hold it…exhale slowly. Wow, nothing like a little excitement to get the blood pumping. You’re both in good hands, stay safe. Aloha!

  3. “Sweety, our mooring broke…” What a soft-pillowed delivery of alarming news. Glad to read that you and Cheers are all good, and yayy for acute Captain-sense.

  4. Glad you guys are okay. Little adventures just make the big one more exciting right? I hope so. Oh, just wanted to tell you that school is going great for all of us ( even though mommy is stressed). Morgan is excited to start kindergarten in about 3 weeks, and I really like 3 of my 4 teachers. Also, my dad got the job at sunny side and is much happier there than he was before. We LOVE you guys so much! Continue to be safe and have a wonderful time.

  5. Are you trying to send your Mother to an early grave?? You guys always did love adventure but we in Tucson are all very thankful that this story had a happy ending. We love and miss you, Mom and Dad

  6. Wow, what a night, glad you guys are ok!

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