April 29, Puerto Engaño

The sailing details of this section are a bit blurry and no one seems to remember anything but here is what I got from Liam’s diary.
‘Today we arose at a decent hour- 7.30am, we untied, pulled up the anchor and got moving with a huge wind behind us. But it shifted and we ended up pinching (sailing into the wind) for some time. We had the motor going almost the whole time. A shame! It was rainy and low visibility the whole time. At the end we had to put another reef (reduce sail) in the main sail and furl the genoa very small. We came to the anchorage in 25knots of wind, motored in, tied up and as we pulled away to drop the anchor, I asked Ian if I should take a slack in the lines to the shore. He said ‘No, because it floats (i.e. there is no risk in getting caught in the propeller)’. Not thirty seconds later it got caught in the propeller. So we had to drop anchor right away. Mario and Ian both dove down to untangle it. Ian said he felt very embarrassed and stupid.’
Now let me add my side of the story. Or rather elaborate on it.
I was inside when the rope got tangled around the propeller. I might have even been having a nap. In any case when I went out, I heard Mario saying ‘I’ll do it.’.
– What are you going to do – I asked.
– Dive into the water, under the boat and untangle the rope – he responded. I thought it was one of his show-off stage ups but then he added.
– Well, someone’s gotta do it.
It wasn’t going to be fun, be he was right, someone had to do it. So, he undressed, got into a short sleeve wetsuit, put his snorkeling mask over his face and jumped into the water. The mask got off as he plunged into the freezing water, and I thought ‘Well, you shouldn’t have jumped.’ But later I realized a slow immerse would have been much worse. He spent a few seconds floating while trying to adjust the mask. His expression was already screaming ‘This is freezing cold!’ He ducked down under the water and we could see him wiggle under the boat while trying to release the rope. Since there wasn’t much I could do I thought he would want to at least have photos of this dramatic moment, so I just stood on the deck trying to get a good shot of him.
After about a minute he came out and climbed back onto the boat. He was freezing. He couldn’t go on despite the fact that the rope was still not completely free. He got a good few turns before he had to come up. He later explained the sensation.
– It was bearably cold until I got my head under the water. I felt that I was drowning. I couldn’t take a breath. My mind knew that I wasn’t drowning but it felt that way – he said.
He wasn’t excited about this experience. He realized what it was like and there was no way he was going back. A mature decision.
We still had some of the rope tangled around the propeller though. Since Liam is as skinny as I am none of us could do (not that we particularly wanted to anyway!) without risking hypothermia. So it was Ian’s turn. He got into a long sleeve wet suit jacket that also had a hood. After Mario’s experience we knew how important keeping your head warm was. Ian also attached a small weight to his waist and put on some flippers. He went down, and it took him a good couple of minutes and a few dives before he could get the rope out of there. He came out, visibly composed and from what he said not even that cold. What can I say? Experience for you.
While the guys were outside I was heating water for their hot showers as they got out. Mario was first, and then Ian. Luckily, nobody got sick and it just made for a good story. From then on we all made sure our ropes stay as far away from the propeller as possible. Despite the heroic tone of the action, I don’t think any of them would like to repeat it.

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