My Journal August 1, 2000
“On July 29 we woke to fairly clear skies except dark black clouds dead ahead. At 0600 or so we were nearing the clouds and the wind shifted around to the S and became very cold. Jim immediately reefed in the main. Moments later we were hit hard with the strongest downpour we have both ever experienced. The winds were about 25K on the nose. The scariest part is that we were heading straight for the atoll Manihi in the Dangerous Archipelago.
We didn’t know if we should keep going through the archipelago toward Tahiti or if we should wait to see if we could get into a safe anchorage. About an hour later, the rain stopped and the clouds cleared. We spotted Manihi and decided to make a run for it. We entered the pass around 11:15. I conned on the bow and at the end of the pass there were waves breaking. I knew it shallowed there but as we passed over it looked soooo shallow. I thought we were going to hit bottom!!
Jim said it got down to 8ft! Our boat’s keel draws 6. Whew-we made it into the lagoon and spotted the anchorage. As we crossed the lagoon we passed huge coral plateaus that had small shacks built on them. We saw the village and scoped out the anchorage. It ended up being much deeper than what Charlie’s Charts had indicated. About 70′ or so. We set the hook and enjoyed curry and rice before turning in.
At 2:00am or so I woke with a start. I heard a loud thud that made me sit straight up. After a moment the boat shuddered tremendously as it rammed up against something hard. Jim ran outside. It was pitch black and at first it appeared we hadn’t moved from our spot. As we shined the 1000 candle light into the water we could see huge coral heads at the water’s surface all around the boat. Jim went to pull up the anchor and as he pulled in on the line he reached the end!! The line end of the rode had chafed all the way through on a coral head!!! Our anchor was at the bottom of the sea with all our chain.”
By dawn break, we had secured the boat with a back up anchor by kedging off. My husband had to row out in howling wind with a heavy anchor in pitch black darkness to set it off the stern.
As the sun rose higher in the sky and we failed to wave down any locals zooming by in their Mahi Mahi boats, Jim decide to row ashore and go get help. I stayed with the boat with the motor on ready to steer away from the reef in case the other rode chafed through too.
The story of my husband’s journey to the other side of the atoll is like something out of a movie. He was taken by moped to the “Mayor” of Manihi for help. When he arrived and entered his cinder block home, he found a pot bellied, shirtless old polynesian smoking at a table. The only thing out of the man’s mouth was, “How much is your boat worth?”
Jim hastily excused himself and somehow got across the pass to the other side of the atoll from where we anchored. He finally arrived at the Manihi Pearl Beach Resort where he located the resort dive instructor and hired him for $300/hr to locate our anchor.
The next day the diver came to our boat and I directed him from a power boat where exactly I had set the anchor down. I remember vividly where we had anchored. He dove for a full hour and at the last minute he noticed the frayed ends of a rope drifting in the current. As he pulled on it he discovered that it was connected to a chain which was actually connected to OUR anchor. Apparently there was hundreds of yards of rope that looked very much like ours at the bottom-entangled and wrapped around huge heads of coral.
We re-spliced our chain to new rope we had with us then set sail for the island of Tahiti the following day.
My husband checking and patching the damage to the hull before setting sail for Tahiti.