Tuesday, April 26, 2011

a small miracle

After a day of rain (except for the morning in which we had snorkeled) everyone was feeling a bit of cabin fever. John on Calou came to the rescue by offering to give an informal recital. He's a concert violinist in San Francisco, so this sounded like a wonderful treat. Phambili offered to host everyone. When we arrived, Dennis let Fiona tie up Evergreen's dinghy, using the tried and true half hitches that most of us use.

After a wonderful potluck dinner, it turned out we got a bonus act for the evening. John wasn't quite ready to play yet, so Bruce brought out his button accordion, and accompanied by his wife Pascale's vocals, belted out a wonderful selection of gypsy, Russian, and French tunes. After this warmup, John performed a few pages from a number of classical "hits" including violin concertos from Mozart and Beethoven. It was pretty amazing to hear such music while seated under the tropical sky on a gently rocking catamaran.

As the evening wrapped up, we said our goodbyes, not knowing when or where we might meet up again. Fiona went to get our dinghy, only to find that it had disappeared. This was serious. A dinghy is like a car, only much more of a necessity - there is no "public transit" in an anchorage. Fiona and Tommy immediately went out to search, but the sky was clouded over and the moon hadn't yet risen.

The prevailing feeling was that there was nothing to be done, but Dennis decided to raise the anchor and go out looking. By this time it was after midnight. He used his chartplotter and instruments to determine wind and current direction, and motored out in the direction that the dinghy might have drifted. But it seemed hopeless - the dinghy had up to a 4-hour headstart.

When I came on watch at first light, we were in big swells and high winds, nearly 8 miles offshore. The chartplotter showed where Dennis had tracked back and forth across the sea. Finally, about 8AM, he called off the search and laid a course back towards Hanavave. I went below and tried to sleep. An hour later, Vicki awakened me with the amazing news that the dinghy had been spotted, directly in front of the boat, at a distance of no more than a couple hundred yards.

We grabbed the dinghy's painter with the boathook, and because of the heaving seas, decided to tow it back to calmer waters. When we got back to the anchorage, all of the boats that had been there were gone, and a new arrival, Thetis from Holland, had taken their places. We had a celebratory breakfast, and slept away most of the day. Of course, the sun came out and we missed a glorious day, compared to the two previous ones. Toward evening we rallied for a short trip into the village to buy a few pamplemousse.

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