Tuesday, September 2, 2014
The title of this blog could also be “A Boat Owner’s Worst Nightmare!” or “Irie’s Messed up Mooring Lines: Mystery Solved!” or “Ignorance is Bliss!” or “Hear me Out: a Reason to Complain?” but since the responsibility of our latest and most unbelievable revelation lies solely with Taina Marina in Tahiti, they deserve to be part of the title… in a BAD way.
When Mark and I left Irie in Taina Marina, Tahiti, on mooring ball A19 for an indefinite time (after Mark was diagnosed with cancer, we flew to the US for surgery and treatment), we made sure everything was as well prepared as possible in this particular and unexpected situation. We had heard that A19 was a newly serviced mooring ball after it had broken loose recently, something we saw as a positive thing, since we would be the only boat on this mooring and a very light and short one in comparison to other boats in the cruising fleet, so how would we be able to break a mooring suitable for a 40’ monohull? And we had attached three mooring lines through the loop of the ball: one forward off each bow and one “back-up” line in the middle. This set-up meant three things: it kept the ball in front and in the middle of our boat, so nothing was touching our hulls and our newly applied bottom pain, chafing of the lines was impossible, and in case one of the lines developed a problem, there were two other lines to hold Irie securely. Friends frequently checked on her in case something looked suspicious; the marina had their contact information.
On August 15th, Mark and I returned to our floating home, ready to settle back into our life on the water. We saw that Irie was lying slack against the mooring ball. Upon further investigation, we found a pile of mooring lines on the front deck and only one single line ran from one bow to the other through the loop of the mooring ball. From the moment our boat moved, the sawing movement would cause chafe to the one line and/or the loop (something every serious boater knows) with the potential danger of the line snapping and our boat being on the loose. And, the way this one line was tied (around the outsides of the bows!!), our boat was moving over the rope and all the new, expensive bottom paint we put on in Apataki in March, was being rubbed off! Needless to say, we were not very happy about this new found situation and the only thing we found out was that none of our friends were responsible. The neighbors in the mooring field didn’t reveal anything and when we paid our steep bill (which was already higher than expected, because they raised the weekly price when we were gone and did not honor the rate we had received) to the manager Philippe Olite, he took the money without any further information.
(For the people who are interested: catamarans pay double the rate of monohulls, despite the fact that we, at 35 feet, were awake many nights to keep an eye out when oversized monohulls – paying less than us – on neighboring mooring balls came inches from our boat during wind shifts and tidal changes. Price for a cat: 276cfp ($3)/foot/week or 551cfp ($6)/foot/month.)
What had happened to Irie’s mooring lines remained a mystery… until a few days ago. The catamaran Paradocs entered our anchorage in Arue and when passing our boat, one of the crew yelled: “Hey, I saved your boat two weeks ago in Taina Marina! It was just floating…” What?????? From the moment the new arrival had dropped the anchor and settled next to us, Mark and I took our dinghy over and requested more information. Around August 8th, Nicholas had come home by dinghy from playing ukulele elsewhere. It was about midnight when he saw our cat Irie “dragging” through the mooring field. The mooring ball and all three lines were still attached! He had banged on our hull, but nobody was home. Our boat was about to crash into another catamaran, so he urged those owners to wake up and together they fended Irie off just in time to prevent any damage. Then, Nicholas contacted the marina staff, who – begrudgingly because of the late hour – towed our boat to another mooring ball, where she stayed until A19 was fixed. Then, Philippe and crew put Irie back on that one, with only one line attached. And, he never told us about it!
Despite our initial shock and anger, we realize that mooring balls break. Shit happens! What we don’t understand is how Marina Taina did not take any responsibility for what happened, and how Philippe (“I don’t remember. Moorings break all the time.”) feels totally fine about not telling us anything and about the fact that we could have lost our home (“That’s why you have insurance.”). If the wind had come from the other direction, Irie would have ended up on the reefs. That being sad, we are very grateful that Nicholas saved our boat and that no serious damage was done. Discovering that you almost lost your house and way of life is quite the scare and our good karma for having saved at least three other cruising boats from crashing into shore or heading out to sea during our seven years on the water has been put to the test!