Every Sailors Nightmare

Sunday 6th May 2018

Aside from having no beer and only 2 bottles of wine on board, we were all in high spirits as we sailed out of the bay and around to the other side of the Island, into the lovely anchorage of Havannah.
The weather was perfect, and the scenery stunningly beautiful. I hand washed a few of my “smalls” and Bob’s shorts, to hang out to dry while we were moving (got to keep apperances up, can’t be too posh, when on a posh boat LOL).
I was on the foredeck hanging up said items, all the guys were in the cockpit, and Lesley was in the galley preparing lunch, when I noticed that I could see the reef, approaching a shallow reef is not a good thing on a boat with a 7’ draft.
I yelled back to the crew that we were in “shallow water” and they needed to change course; immediately Stewart ran up to me on the foredeck and yelled back to the rest “STARBORD TURN NOW” I was yelling “BACK UP” (I always forget that a boat can’t simply stop, and change gear like a car)

I was in panic mode, the boat slowed, but it was a few seconds too late, and as we turned there was a jolt and a loud scraping as we brushed the coral reef beneath us, I heard Lesley in the galley shout “FUCK, FUCK” we kept turning but were now in really shallow water, another jolt and more scraping, True Blue tilted as she scraped the reef again and we all held our breath as we ground to a hault, and came to an unsteady standstill, Don slowly maneuvered her carefully back out and around into deep water with Stewart and me up on the foredeck doing our best to direct. Bob shot down below to rip up floorboards and make sure we were not letting in water. Happily all was normal in the bilge, apparently it sounded worse than it was.
We gently motored on to our intended anchorage which was only about 15 minutes away, where we dropped anchor and Don got into his dive gear to inspect the damage.
Stewart didn’t wait, he dived straight in with just his snorkel mask to take a look at the damage. He came up with a smile and said it just looked like surface scratches. Don took my GoPro down to get some video of what the damage actually looked like.
Oysters truly are well built, solid boats, for cruising yachts they really don’t come much better or stronger than this; yes, we had some surface damage obviously, it was quite a hit, the hull, keel & rudder all had scrapings and some deeper scratches, but everything structural appeared in good order, nothing that a decent paint job would’t fix, although Don intends to have her hauled out in Australia to repaint the hull.

Bob and I have run aground a few times over the last 10 years, but its usually been in sandy bottoms, we have yet to hit a reef, I hope to God we never do, it really is a sailors nightmare. I felt dreadful for not spotting the reef earlier, but in hindsight we were all a little remiss in our attention as we navigated through new territory. And at least I can console myself that I spotted it in time and no serious damage was done.

Thank fully all appears to be in good working order, just some aesthetics that need attention. Nothing out of the ordinary in the life of a yacht chartering pacific Islands. Although it was not a day I will forget in a hurry, and one I certainly hope never to repeat.

The happy news was that Lesley discovered a stash of liquor in the storage cabin, Scotch, 2 bottles of Gin, Vodka and a few other liquors, we didn’t have beer, but all was not lost, and the day ended happily with us all playing cards and drinking cocktails…

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