Saturday, April 18, 2015

So, The Haul Out Didn't Quite Go As Planned....

Heading for the marina...we think

Oh Oh.... this isn't good
They say there are three kinds of sailors: those who have been aground, those who haven't been aground yet, and those who lie. On April 14th, 2015 we firmly moved from category number two to category number one.

We set off from the Fonatur marina on a beautiful, warm sunny morning - there were six of us on board: Gary and myself, Scott and Tanya from s/v Kialoa, and Jim and Tricia from s/v Falcon VII.

We were set to haul-out of the water at the dry storage yard in Guaymas at 10 am, the second boat of the day (our friend Bill on s/v Greybeard was ahead of us).  We transferred Scott and Tanya to Bill's boat, then drifted around the bay while waiting for him to get pulled out of the water.

Finally, at 9:40 am we got the OK from the marina staff to move into the marine slip ways for the haul out.

Guaymas harbour is known for being extremely shallow, which strikes fear into owners of large draft boats like ourselves (we draw 7 feet below waterline). To remove the stress of going into an unknown, very shallow harbour, Gary had helped another couple into the marina a few days before. He took his handheld GPS and plotted a course, as well as used our handheld depth sounder to determine the depth of the channel leading into the marine ways (there are no buoys marking the channel, this being Mexico).  As he read 10 feet all the way in, we were feeling confident that we knew where we were going and all would go smoothly. Famous last words.

As we headed towards the slip way, the guys from the marina talked us in...'go left... now a bit to your right...'. In addition to these instructions, we were supposed to make sure we lined the slip way up with an old house on the shore behind us. As we were getting close to the docks, I looked behind and realized we'd drifted just a tad to the right. As I began to tell Gary to turn to the left...Thump. Bump. Yup, we were aground.


Murray from s/v Ponga helping us to kedge off the reef...
 Did we mention it was a falling tide??

We sprang into action.

Plan A: Gary tried to reverse off the reef using both the engine and the bow thruster. No luck.

Plan B: We radio'd the boat set to haul out after us (s/v Ponga from Victoria, with Marty and Murray on board) and asked if they'd be willing to try to tow us off. They agreed. We threw them a line and with both engines pinned, we tried to pull us off. Again, no luck.

...Then trying to back off the reef...

Plan C: We attached one of our anchors (which was of course nicely packed away in our back lazarette) to a line on a halyard (which we had to re-run up the mast as we'd pulled all of our lines before leaving the Fonatur...lessons for next year - don't pack everything away on the boat until you are out of the water!). Murray from Ponga took the anchor and dropped it several hundred feet off our port side. We then reeled in the line and tried to heel the boat over enough to slide us off the reef. No luck.

... with some help from the Mexican Navy... No luck.
Plan D: Unknown to us, the marina guys had called in the Mexican Navy to give us a hand. The next thing we knew, a large panga with two Navy guys showed up. They picked up Andre and Roberto from the marina (who both speak perfect English, thank god) and came out to help. They attached a line to our back cleat and revved their 90 horsepower engine. Despite creating a lot of impressive wash in the water, we didn't even budge.

Plan E: Wait until high tide and float off the reef.

We lowered our dingy into the water and Gary rowed Jim and Tricia to shore. They were along to help, but we didn't want them to have to wait around for 6 hours while the boat heeled over and came back up again. Overall the day was quite instructive for them as they learned where NOT to go and what NOT to do.

Low tide
Low tide was at 1:20 pm. Happily we only ended up on a 14 degree angle. Apparently the last boat that had gone aground a few days earlier (another BCA boat, s/v Swerver II) heeled over to 45 degrees. So we felt pretty lucky.  We were also happy that the afternoon wind waves weren't that big and so we weren't bounced up and down on the bottom. We just rested sedately on our side and waited to float again.

A look says a thousand words

View of the travel lift from our grounded boat at low tide. So close, yet so far...  we were just 10 feet too far to the right!! 

Sea Rover safely in the marine ways after her ordeal
Finally, at 4:10 pm the reef decided it had had enough of us and let us go. Thankfully we were in the cockpit discussing what we would do when we drifted free and so we were quickly able to turn on the engine and get underway (before we were pushed over to the other side of the channel by the wind and ran aground again). We turned the boat around, got in touch with the marina guys and told them we were coming into the dock. Luckily they were on the dock waiting for us, as the strong cross wind made for a very tricky entry into the marine ways. More hands on deck would have been useful, but we got the lines to the guys and they pulled us in to safety.

As it was too late in the day to haul us out, we stayed in the marine ways overnight. We were then hauled out first thing the next morning (ahead of s/v Kialoa, who were scheduled to be the first boat of the day - sorry Scott and Tanya) without incident.

No damage done, except to our egos. Phew.

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