Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dinghy breakdown in Mayaguana

Before leaving Mayaguana, we had an “Oh Crap are We Going to Make it Back to the Boat” moment. We had moved from Abraham’s Bay to a staging spot on the isolated east part of the island. On our last day, we took the dinghy to look at the flamingos, check out a wrecked sailboat, and snorkel at a coral head (in that order).

We were about to leave the coral head and head back to the boat when David noticed that the propeller on the outboard motor was missing. He was able to find it pretty easily by jumping back in the water near the coral but the bad part was the nut that holds the propeller on to the motor was nowhere to be found. It could have fallen off anywhere from our last destination (the wrecked sailboat), which was ½ mile back near shore. He searched and searched (by snorkeling) for about an hour and had to stop because the sun was going down.

At this point, we were a mile away from the boat and our only option to get back to it was to row straight into wind that was gusting to 20 knots. We tried rowing but didn’t get anywhere because the wind was blowing too hard. I started to get a little worried. There were no other boats anchored on the island and the closest settlement was at least a 20 mile walk through trees and vegetation (no roads). And we only had half a bottle of water left.

Next we decided to row across the wind to the shore and walk upwind for a short distance pulling the dinghy behind us, which would make it easier to row back to the boat. One of the oar locks had broken a few weeks back so David used some paracord to temporarily fix before he started rowing again. Once we got back in the dinghy, the other oar lock broke. You can imagine the string of curses that came out of our mouths! We had to quickly drop the anchor to avoid being blown downwind into dangerous coral, which could have popped our inflatable dinghy. He fixed the oarlock, and we tried again. If these fixes didn’t hold, we were shit out of luck getting back to the boat, and my worry meter had climbed from orange to red. So there we are – David rowing and me using my two index fingers to keep the pins in the oarlocks - dodging coral, trying to keep the dinghy from being overturned by waves, and navigating by moonlight. Then he jokes about the dinghy popping and us getting eaten by sharks. If I could’ve smacked him, I would have (just kidding...but not jokes about dying please). It was a looong way and very hard row back to the boat (David is amazing!), but we made it back around 9pm. I’ve never been so glad to step onto our little floating home as I was in that moment.

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