Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Sort of SAR at Bora Bora

A few days ago our morning coffee was disrupted by a call on the VHF radio "This is yacht whatever, we are stuck on the south reef and need help urgently".  Oh.  The call was very clear so sounded very close.  We waited a few moments to see if MRCC Papeete (Rescue Coord for this part of the world and who have a repeater on Bora Bora) would reply.  They did not hear the transmission so a neigbouring French boat call MRCC to reply.  We tried to hail yacht whatever but they did not reply.  So ... it was either really serious and they couldn't manage another more detailed transmission, it was a spoof, or something else ...  The kids and I loaded up some supplies and launched the RHIB to see if we find the boat.  Liz coordinated with MRCC (en francais bien sur) as there was no some confusion with some of the unrelated hailing on Ch16.

Rescue Kids

Of course, there is no "South Reef" and while Bora Bora is not very big we had to guess where he might have meant.  After about an hour driving at a pretty good speed at potential "south reefs" the yacht in question responded to a call from MRCC to say that they were off the reef and okay.   Liz relayed the coordinates to me and, as we were close, we continued on to see if we could lend a hand even if was not an emergency.  

It turned out they had hit some coral on one of the very tight passes within the lagoon but were not ever in any immediate danger.  A local fisherman had helped guide them to safe water and they suffered only minor damage - nice the have a metal boat !

Not bad scenery though.
We showed up and helped scout out an exit back into the lagoon and to pickup the fisherman again to guide them out.  It was pretty anticlimactic, which is exactly the way you hope these things end.  It was a good experience for the kids though, and an excuse to discuss how important it is to help others in our community and also what we would pack in the RHIB if we needed to do something like this again. 
A tough boat - only a few scratches
After three hours we were home on Fluenta again - a lot quicker than the Flying Dragon excitement of the previous year in Mexico.

The local fisherman who got them off the reef swimming home after we dropped him off,

The local fisherman with his bottle of whiskey from the yacht.  A nice sentiment, but it was not really the most appropriate gift in Polynesia.

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