12 November 2010 | Solomon Sea, Papua New Guinea waters
Bubbles was hard aground off of Kiriwina island. We tried pulling/pushing with the dingy and even pirate swings with the halyard but with no light left and a falling tide our fate looked to be sealed for the evening. We grabbed a case of beer and headed off to visit Gambori and crew to collect our thoughts and tide information. We discovered that there was only one high and one low tide per day here and that we had ran aground shortly after the high. We also found out that the tide was waning for the next week meaning if we didnt get off with the next day’s high we would be stuck there for 10 days or more.
When we got back to the boat that night Bubbles was on her side but fortunately hadnt taken on any water. It was quite the sensation to move around inside her (like walking on the walls of a house tipped on its side) but with no movement from the ocean that usually accompanies this extreme of a heel. We had several native visitors throughout the night which was surprising since we had lights off and were well over a mile from the closest island settlement. They all wanted to help but I told them come back in the morning.
We awoke shortly after sunrise with multiple sets of eyes peering in through every porthole watching us as we slept and no fewer than five persons sitting casually in the cockpit. We were sitting near level again and I told them to come back in the afternoon when the tide would be higher and we would have a better chance but they insisted I try to get off now. With several natives pushing, the motor in reverse and less effort than I anticipated we were off and had water beneath the keel once again. Apparently about a dozen of the natives had started before sunrise to dig a trench with their bare hands leading the boat back to deeper water.
They were all now aboard Bubbles as we left the channel to open sea and we had the music cranked in celebration. I was now using my handheld garmin to navigate and after seeing the look of amazement in their eyes handed the device to one of the older ones to get a better look at. They quickly huddled around the object and argued loudly in their native tongue as what each thought it was. I gave them some rice and sugar for their efforts and we were on our way again.
Shortlythereafter we were hit by some eversocommon heavy rains. Tree (now AKA camel due to the amount of freshwater water she consumes) went into action to start collecting the water caught by the sails while Ben and I tried to navigate blindly. When the rain let up we caught a visual on Kaileuna island we were on course to collide with and at about the same time it hit without warning… FLASH with a near simultaneous KABOOOOM. Lighting struck just a couple hundred yards from the boat nearly knocking me down as I ducked for cover. Mad eh!! Never had lightning strike so close and made me start to think why it didnt hit the 65 foot aluminum pole sticking straight up to the sky from the middle of the boat. Another strike of similar closeness hit a few minutes later and they were the only two strikes the system carried.
The next morning we caught a nice sized yellowfin tuna and while bleeding it Ben decided it was time for his specialty – the ‘mac-bubbles tuna burger’ of which the making would be a half-day affair. We now have wievels in almost everything – rice, flour, crackers, cookies. noodles and oats – so that any cooking preparation time must also factor in weivel sifting which we all usually help with. Just in time for sunset Ben had constructed the best tuna burger a man could ask for complete with freshly baked buns, gilled onions, fried egg, jungle lettuce, new zealand cheese (sorry gerber), and a thick tuna steak fried in rum complete with a side of yam fries. We had two each then lounging to allow digestion under the fading hues of orange and pinks before being covered in a blanket of stars as we drifted slowly westward.