The day started normal with a trip planned to the "Tunnels," which is a lagoon area that has lava tunnels you can snorkel through and a great place to see Seahorses. We took off at 9:00 am and after a 1/2 hour of pounding away in a panga going at least 30 knots (a lot faster than any of our boats go!!), the driver slowed down and asked us if we really wanted to go and do the Tunnels, as the surf was pretty high, and the trip in might be a bit hairy. We all told him that it was his decision and that we could skip it if the conditions weren´t right. After pondering a bit, he started in toward shore with his assistant standing on the bow pointing the way between reefs as the waves broke all around us.
Any of you who may have gone in through big surf like this know that there is a time when you look behind you and pick a lull in the surf and head for the beach. And that´s what this Captain did, following in the last wave that broke in front of us. But as we got closer to the shore, which in this case was just a series of lava reefs, it became obvious that there was no place to escape the reef. The opening he was looking for was nowhere to be found, and he had no alternative but to turn back out to sea. Yeah, well maybe I should say "try" to turn back out to sea. Because halfway through the turn we got hit broad side by a wave!! I saw it coming, and all I could say is, "I don´t believe this is happening." But it did and it wasn´t pretty. The boat capsized throwing all of us into the water and for a moment I was trapped under the panga as the surf pushed it over the reef. When I finally popped up the first thing I thought of was, "Where is Suzi??" Not seeing her on my side of the boat, I crawled up onto the boat to get a better look, but just as I was about to look another wave hit us, and over I went with the boat pushing me through the water. When I came up this time, I swam away from the boat, and I finally was able to see Suzi swimming away from the boat. What a relief..... I can´t tell you how the emotions flowed through me. But I didn´t have time to focus on that because the surf was still pounding in, pushing us toward the reef, and all of our stuff was floating around. I started grabbing what I could and made it to the nearest reef patch that was out of the water and crawled on up.
Let me tell you that lave reefs are sharp as razors and all of us were soon cut all over our bodies but thankfully nothing too deep. The one thing lave reefs don´t do like their coral reef counter parts is create infections from the living organisms that make the coral reefs up. Lava reefs seem to be pretty clean because none of my cuts look infected. So here we were, 30 miles from nowhere and shipwrecked on a reef about 100 yards from shore. Miraculously we were able to recover all of our shoes except one of my sandals!!! I´m so bummed I lost it because as everyone knows, one Rainbow sandal isn´t worth much. Now it was time to help the Captain out who was trying his best to save the boat by pulling it into a more secure area but wasn´t having much success. Every time we tried to move it, the surf would pick it up and put it anywhere it wanted which sometimes was way too close to us swimming in the water. After a hour of trying to muscle this heavy assed panga with its engines still down and dragging across the reef, it became obvious that the only thing that was going to happen sooner or later was one of us getting hurt. After avoiding for the 3rd of 4th time getting trapped between the boat and the reef, I called it quits and climbed up onto the reef and informed the Captain that we couldn't´t do anything else and that it was time to start concentrating on getting out of there.
He agreed and off we started for a lagoon about a 1/2 hour's hike/swim towards the lagoon where there were more tour boats "hopefully." As it turned out we did find a boat that gave us a ride back and the funny thing is we were back at our boat about the time we were supposed to be back after a full day of fun in the sun. We were all so lucky!! That none of us got hurt badly was a miracle and that we were able to recover as much of our gear as we did was just short of amazing.
As it turned out all of us lost our sunglasses, some of them very expensive. Suzi´s and my digital camera that fits into our waterproof casing got wet and I´m afraid is toast. Naturally it wasn´t in the waterproof case when we went over. Robert and Kalita lost their dive gear, which included some very high tech and expensive mask and snorkels, and Steve and Darusha got off really cheap as all they lost were their sunglasses. For how we had gotten rolled over, how big the surf was and how vast the reef area was, it was a miracle we got back what we did. It was a day all of us will remember for the rest of our lives. It was like getting caught in an avalanche with 5 friends and everyone coming out unhurt. I shouldn't´t say completely unhurt because the boat judo chopped Suzi on the neck somewhere along the way and Kalita´s shin looks she was in a knife fight with a midget and all of us have cuts on every leg and arm and on our butts. But no serious injuries!! Amazing is all I can say and once again, how lucky we all were. So today we are shopping for our departure which will be this coming Thursday and trying not to do anything very exciting. We all had our fill yesterday.....
By the way, "all of us" was Robert and Kalita off "Freedom," Steve and Darusha off "Scream" and Suzi and I along with the captain and his assistant. The bottom line was the Captain blew it!! Turns out he didn´t have the best rep. among the cruising community and was only skippering the boat for the absentee owner?? What is going to happen to the panga and those almost new 200 hp. Yamaha outboards is your guess. Personally I couldn´t care less because I feel like the captain almost killed someone yesterday, and he should be counting his blessings. He had the gall to ask us to tell anyone who asked that the engines died when we were coming in instead of the truth that he came into the wrong place. Nobody has confronted any of us about what happened up there but as for me, I don´t feel up to lying for the guy. I don´t like to lie to anyone for any reason (as a kid I always got caught) so I'm not about to lie for the guy who almost killed my wife or myself. But it will probably never be heard about again except by me. I´ll tell this story many times I´m sure!!!!