Remember Shredder in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? He was the big bad villain and we suspect he’s alive and well and living at Huon Reef…
So here’s what happened. We’d had another wonderful day at Huon – snorkeling, beach-combing, reading, doing a few small boat jobs and now it was time for sundowners on the trampoline, watching the huge red sun gradually sink below the horizon on a glassed-out sea. I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite so relaxed and peaceful.
As darkness fell I went inside to begin preparing dinner when suddenly there was a huge commotion at the back of the boat – a humongous splashing and thrashing. At first I thought it was amorous turtles who’d surfaced behind the boat (perhaps it was?) but then came Bruce’s call “A turtle’s collided with the dinghy”. At first we chuckled, they’re not the smartest of animals and we’d already discovered their eyesight isn’t great. But then Bruce pulled the dinghy alongside and we discovered the starboard tube had deflated. Expecting a small puncture we hoisted the dinghy out of the water to examine the damage. No, it definitely was NOT a small puncture – the whole aft pontoon (the conical bit) had been well and truly shredded, either by the turtle’s fins, shell, mouth or all of the above. Either way, we were no longer laughing – it was way too big a repair job for the little hypalon patches and glue in our repair kit. To say we were stunned would be an understatement – these type of freak events aren’t supposed to happen in paradise!
Without a working dinghy our diving and exploring days are now over – at least we have the kayaks to get to the beach, but diving out on the reef is way too far to paddle. More worrying (apart from the cost) is that we’ll need a dinghy once we get home to ferry us from our mooring to shore. Talk about putting a dampener on things Mr Turtle! Suddenly we didn’t feel quite so warm and fuzzy about our shellback friends. I guess that would be turtles -1, dinghy – 0.
Despite the weather remaining glorious, it’s taken the edge off paradise for us. We’ve been looking closely at the weather too, and it seems there may be a nasty tropical low developing to the north-west of us, so it’s time to pack our bags and get out of here. Being caught in a coral atoll with little protection is not where we want to be in a storm. Our plan has been to stop at Chesterfield Reef to break the journey south, but we may have to forego that too if the bad weather eventuates. So as of this morning (Mon 14th Nov) we’re underway, in very light winds from the NNE.
Bundaberg would be the nearest port of entry for us, but because we’re importing the boat we’ve been advised to clear into a NSW port. Coffs Harbour was our first choice but the marina is still closed for repairs so Border Control have told us we’ll need to clear into Newcastle. That’s a long slog from here (over 1000nm) so we expect to be on passage for 7-8 days. Hopefully we’ll be able to break the journey at either Chesterfield or Cato reefs on the way but, as always, that’s up to Huey.