Mission Impossible

Paulo has been using his skateboard a lot. Sometimes at the dock.

Eventually, the skateboard fell in the water. And sank. Again.

But wait, there’s more.

It was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday and we encouraged him to go play outside, after all we’d been tucked inside the cabin for almost 3 days straight due to the rainy weather. He took his skateboard and left. Some 30 minutes later he came back saying that the skateboard had fallen off the dock again and sank, just under Pesto.

Unfortunately this time we didn’t have the oversized magnet that was used to retrieve the skateboard a month ago in Seattle. Adriana went asking the neighboring boats for anything that could work, but all she could get was a mooring hook with a long stick – not long enough to reach the sea bottom though.

Then we remembered the Dinghy. It has a small anchor, foldable style with 4 arms … it might work. Adriana and I spent a couple hours deploying it along the dock and trying to retrieve the skateboard, but all we were able to bring back up was mud. In the middle of the afternoon we called it quits, since we were preparing for an early departure the next day and there was still a few chores to be accomplished.

Later on Adriana took the kids to play at the beach to try to cheer Paulo up. I stayed at Pesto a little longer finishing some work in the engine room. An hour later I went to the beach and they were playing with Paulo’s soccer ball. We met and went to a nearby restaurant. During dinner I noticed Paulo was already over the skateboard thing. Good. And then, right upon leaving the restaurant, it happened … Paulo kicked the ball, it bounced off a pillar and went straight down a small cliff, on to the sea !

It was already dark, there were a lot of sea lions nearby, and it was impossible to even think of retrieving the ball. Paulo had lost two of his most treasured toys within a couple of hours.

Paulo playing with his ball at the beach just before the incident
Paulo playing with his ball at the beach just before the incident
The sea lions down there bellowed: "don't even think of coming here, pal!"
A few hours later, when he dropped the ball on the water, the sea lions down there bellowed: “don’t even think of coming here, pal!”

 

Back to Pesto, we checked the weather forecast one last time and realized the seas were getting more favorable the following day, and so we decided to postpone our departure accordingly.

When I woke up the next day, Adriana wasn’t in, and I knew what she was up to. One hour later she came back, the soccer ball on her hands. With a lot of determination and patience, she found the ball a few hundred meters downwind from where it first fell off. Luckily none of the sea lions where interested in it during the night!

Adriana found the ball tucked under a pier, a few hundred meters from where it first fell
Adriana found the ball tucked under a pier, a few hundred meters from where it first fell.
Back to Pesto, we left it next to Paulo for when he woke up. Later he said that when he saw it the first time he thought he was still dreaming
Back to Pesto, we left it next to Paulo for when he woke up. Later he said that when he saw it the first time he thought he was still dreaming

 

Since we seemed to be on a good vibe, and we now had a whole day left there, we thought a mission to retrieve the skateboard was justifiable.

The first step was to confirm whether the skateboard was still there or not. Paulo raised his concern that the tide currents within the marina were quite strong and might have pushed it away. Fair point. For this we created an apparatus consisting of two poles tied together and attached the GoPro at it’s edge. We named it Nautilus 1:

Nautilus 1, assembled with two sicks (the paddle board's Paddle and Pesto's mooring hook tied together). It was some  10 ft long. The camera was attached to its end with a bunch of rubber bands.
Nautilus 1, assembled with two sicks (the paddle board’s Paddle and Pesto’s mooring hook tied together). It was some 10 ft long. The camera was attached to its end with a bunch of rubber bands.

 

Unfortunately Nautilus 1 proved ineffective. It couldn’t get closer than 4-5 ft from the bottom. And the water was too murky to allow any images to be captured from that distance.

So a new, far more advanced assembly was put together. Nautilus 2 was created by attaching the GoPro to the body of the dinghy’s anchor:

Nautilus 2 offered unlimited depth capability, at the expense of less maneuverability that its predecessor.
Nautilus 2 offered unlimited depth capability, at the expense of less maneuverability than its predecessor. Note the advanced lashing used to attach the camera to the anchor.

 

After a couple of missions, Nautilus 2 confirmed the presence and position of the skateboard:

There it was, exactly where Paulo told us. 15 ft under Pesto. The tide current had not carried it away.
There it was, exactly where Paulo told us. 15 ft under Pesto. The tide current had not carried it away.

 

So now the question was: how to retrieve it? The sea temperature (c. 55F at surface) coupled with the sea lions and harbor seals that roamed around frequently, plus the dubious cleanliness of the water all ruled out a manned mission instantly. So a new device was created – Nautilus 3:

Nautilus 3: the design's objective was tangle one of its line on to the skateboard's axles.
Nautilus 3: the design’s objective was to tangle one of its lines around the skateboard’s axles.
Paulo doing the final check on Nautilus 3's "systems" before its maiden mission
Paulo doing the final check on Nautilus 3’s “systems” before its maiden mission

 

We spent a good hour scraping the bottom of the marina under Pesto with Nautilus 3.

At times we could feel Nautilus 3, or it's versions, passing over the skateboard. But we could never hook it up.
At times we could feel Nautilus 3 passing over the skateboard. But we could never hook it up.

 

We adapted the design a couple of times and kept trying, but with no results. All we could bring back up was algae. The afternoon went by quickly and eventually it was time to put an end to the mission. Paulo told us he was thankful to the effort we had put in, and that he understood that it was just not possible to retrieve the skateboard this time. The Nautilus assembly was decommissioned, all parts cleaned and stowed, and we got back inside for a warm meal and to get prepared for the early departure the next day.

Well, i guess we will be visiting a skateboard shop in San Francisco next week. And when we do, I believe we will amuse the salesman when we inquire about a floating skateboard model, or the possibility of attaching a lashing to the board.

5 Replies to “Mission Impossible”

  1. Comentário inspirado nas soluções de “search & rescue”.

    Sugeriria o “lash”, afinal funciona para o Surf. Mas o problema é uma linha/fita/mola/elástico solta podendo enrolar nas rodas.
    Se não tiver um “floating board”, tente um espagueti (de piscina) colado no meio do skate, para não atrapalhar a manobrabilidade.

    Beijos a todos.

  2. Parabéns pela paciência e criatividade!!E incrível como osdesafios mudam de cara,ne?Nada que não se possa resolver em São Francisco.E vivas para a bola que se resgatou!!!bjs mae

  3. Não dava prá mergulhar? Ninguém tem equipamento????
    Sempre encantada com os posts
    Beijos grandes

  4. Fala Joao – pois eh, o lash eh um dilema. Pensei em prender o lash ao pulso, e não o tornozelo. Mas conhecendo o Paulinho, ele JAMAIS usaria um troco desses 🙁
    Gostei da ideia do pedaco de espaguete colado no fundo ….
    ABs !

  5. Oi Ana … pois eh, o equipamento de mergulho que temos a bordo so eh para regiões mais quentes. Para mergulhar por aqui eh necessario equipamento especial. Grande, caro e pesado – não passou pelo critério de aprovação 🙂
    Bj

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