We left Fakarava at 4.00pm yesterday and have had a good sail through the night, with Stormvogel in close proximity. The long range forecast is still predicting large southerly swells in a day or two so we hope that by setting off in good time we'll avoid them; we should arrive in Pape'ete tomorrow morning.
Those of you also following the Stormvogel blog (www.wiedekamm.com), with or without the aid of Google Translate, will know that the 'slight delay' we mentioned in our blog when they left the Kauehi anchorage a couple of days ago was, in fact, a pretty scary episode. Only 10 minutes after we took the photo of Stormvogel motoring off into the dawn there was a frantic VHF call from Peter – they had run hard aground on an uncharted coral reef. Stormvogel is an aluminium boat with a lifting keel (retracted at the time); her hull shape meant she rode up onto the reef but did not come to an abrupt stop as she would have with a fixed keel.
We lifted our anchor immediately, conscious that every second counted as the tide was falling, and motored across as quickly as we could. We knew that the only chance of re-floating Stormvogel would be to run a rope from the mast-head and pull her over onto her side to reduce her draught in the water so Peter rowed out to us in his dinghy with a line. After several unsuccessful attempts we were beginning to think that this wasn't going to work but we did one final manoeuver where we set off at full speed at 90 degrees to the stricken boat, the slack rope tightening with a bang and Stormvogel heeling over so far that water flooded onto her side decks (a scary moment for Heidi and down below things were flying across the cabin). With a sickening noise of rock on metal, she slid free. Peter and Graham immediately jumped in with snorkel gear to check the hull and, thankfully, found only paint damage.
Both Peter and Heidi were understandably pretty shocked by the episode but pressed on to Fakarava to meet Ole at the airport. Peter has written a fuller account of the incident on his blog and is being very hard on himself. However the important thing is that no one was hurt and Stormvogel suffered only superficial damage as far as we can tell – she was already booked for a lift-out and new antifouling in Tahiti so will soon be as good as new. We were just glad that were were there and able to help.