Wednesday, 8 October 2008

ENCOUNTER WITH A F.A.D. October 2008

Terengganu to Kapas to Kemmerman day sails south. Uneventful which is how we like it. 

Given that the weather was lovely and the sailing great, the decision was made that we would overnight straight to Tioman to clear out of Malaysia and start heading back to Singapore and up the west coast.

BAD idea. That's when the big bright moon decided to go hide behind the building thunder heads and the wind totally died and we forgot that we'd promised each other that if the wind died we would just "bob about" till it returned, or until daylight returned. So without any proper discussion or thought we started the motor. 

Now I should tell the newbies that this coast and almost every part of Asia we have visited by boat has been littered with FAD's. That's Fish Attracting Devices. They range from whole houses with many families to the huge free floating, or moored, bamboo rafts, through to poles jammed into the sea floor. We had seen many of the latter, in the distance, on our trip north in blessed daylight, and, yes you can guess what happened in the dead of the black night. Kris was perched watchfull and peering into the inky blackness with only an occasional flash of lightening to see by when there is was a streak of white rope racing towards her down the port side. No time to reach across to the throttle to throw the Volvo out of gear.

Too late we are dead stopped, engine stalled, and going no where. The good bit was that the revs were very low so the likely damage from such an encounter was minimised. Scanning about and there were 3 poles sticking out of the water within 3 meters of us in 25 meters of water!. The sea was calm and only a slight bobbing movement of Taipan on the one and a half inch mooring line we had picked up with our prop. We now know that the fishermen tie to these lines and fish over the side around the sticks. Our rope cutter was out of its depth here with the size of this line!

We were also out of our depth and there was no "drawing of straws" to see who goes over the side to cut us free! David goes!. Its his prop!. I don't "do" overboard in the dark!. And it turns out neither does David!! 

Two hours to dawn so we wait. In the murky gloom of a very overcast morning it was revealed that with a little ingenuity we could cut the main line, from the dingy, and let Taipan drift with the current, away from the FAD's... You never know what fish are actually being attracted down there! This manoeuvre was successfully accomplished by the good Capt'n and then once we were a suitable distance away David dived on it using our trusty Powerdive hookah. I might mention that this is a top piece of equipment for boat maintenance and worth every one of the expensive cents we spent on it!

The removal of 5 x 20lt plastic containers acting as floats and about 10m of rope loosely wound and looped around shaft, prop and skeg took only a couple of minutes, remembering that the FAD was not that far away! Those 3 poles and that mooring were the only things on the whole horizon!

Roll on Tioman Island. In before lunch and very pleased too! We must buy an underwater dive torch!!