August 12

It occurred to me that I have never written about what happened to the S/V Amoha, the vessel which lost its rudder on the way to Suvarov 2 weeks ago. I wrote about how a Mayday was transmitted and myself and others assisted on Ham radio to try to locate (successfully) a nearby vessel which could come to their position. What transpired after the vessel arrived on the scene will only require a few sentences to describe. First the crew of "Amoha" decided that they really did NOT want to abandon their vessel, and they apologized for calling Mayday.

A discussion ensued the following day on the radio net whereby people discussed the true meaning of a Mayday call. One group arguing that it means "I give up, please come and rescue me. I am ready to abandon ship." And another group claiming it means only that you are requesting assistance and that either life or property is in danger of being lost. The second position was most notably adopted by several Canadians who claimed that they were taught in Canada (in a yacht certificate course) the second definition. I believe it means the former and a PanPan is the appropriate call if you are not prepared to abandon ship, but still require assistance.

Anyway, the crew of the vessel which came to assist felt it was too rough and dangerous to attempt a tow. They stayed on scene for 2 days and then continued on their way to Suvarov leaving the 31ft Sloop "Amoha" to attempt a jury rig. Eventually the vessel came within 20 miles of Suvarov and the M/V Began came out again to tow them in (conditions having abated and the distance being more manageable).

This was all brought back to my mind because 2 days ago another vessel called for assistance (on the same route by chance) and had also lost their rudder! Seems to be an epidemic of rudder loss in this area. The vessel "Stella di Mare" spent a day rigging a temporary rudder (using a closet door) and changed course for PagoPago in American Samoa, a place where repairs are possible (Suvarov is an uninhabited atoll). At last report this morning they are about 90miles out of PagoPago and making good time.

Of course, I have checked and re-checked our rudder and from what I can see its fine, but what do I know? Anyway, loss of a rudder does seem to be a more common problem then, say, dismasting or striking an object for example. We plan to leave for Suvarov on Tuesday.

Today we are still anchored in the lagoon on the North side of Taha'a but instead of the idyllic, sunny, beautiful spot we were in yesterday it is now raining, blowing 20k with a nice 1-2ft chop. We let out another 75ft of chain and I am quite confident of our anchor's position, so we are sitting comfortably waiting for the weather to improve. Today is our day of rest before we begin tomorrow to get ready to leave. Although we had expected to spend it swimming, going to the beach, and laying about the boat, we are now confined to the interior and are laying about the boat. Lunch is planned for noon and will be cheeseburgers with onions and tomato.

Tomorrow we will move down to Raiatea again and anchor near the main village of Utaroa and will visit the bank to retrieve our bond (security deposit placed when you arrive in the country to guarantee you will actually leave - you pick it up when you clear out of the country). Then we will stop at the fuel dock and top off our diesel tanks and fill our gas jugs, do some shopping at the supermarket (which is situated just a few feet from the fuel dock) and then move off to a quiet anchorage where we can pack up the boat and get things ready for Tuesday afternoon when we plan to leave. We may wait till Wednesday morning instead if the mood strikes us.