The Good, and the Ugly
09 February 2010 | Morgan's Bluff, Andros
Beth / high 70's, windy
This morning, Tuesday, was an example of all the bits of sage boating advice and experience coming together in a few hours of angst.
Although we had a lovely quiet night at anchor out in the bay, we knew there was a norther coming through and the next night would not be nearly so quiet if we stayed out there. We also knew there was one spot between the boats that were moored Mediterranean style inside the bay, and another spot on the wall (where Ramha decided to go after meeting with little encouragement about tying up at the end of the line of boats.)
We dinghied in first thing in the morning to assess the situation, and after a great deal of discussion with the fellow on Triumph, the end boat in the group - who had been there for a couple of months, we determined that we could "do it".
"Doing it" meant getting into the little basin (easy) stopping Madcap in front of the empty space (fairly easy) dropping the anchor (easy) and backing into the slot (not easy) and then tying lines to rocks and trees on shore to keep her from sliding every which way, and getting enough pull from the anchor to keep her off the rocks at the stern (also not easy). It seemed to work for those six other boats so ....
At play in our decision making were two things: the adventurous part - pushing the edges, learning how to do new things - Mediterranean mooring is common in many parts of the world, feeling able to test our skills and feeling confidence in our abilities. And the other part - the caution one - "If it doesn't feel right don't do it." Well, the first part won.
We up anchored, plotted out our strategy and went in through the breakwater - and that was all fine. I was at the wheel and Jim handled the anchoring part - that's our usual pattern. We crept in, got Madcap positioned, dropped the anchor and backed up. We really did it! I was so proud to be able to maneuver her slowly and carefully - back up - go forward to straighten her - back again - idle - forward and straighten - back right into the space with a metre or so on each side. Alain and Judi in their dinghy grabbed lines from Jim and ran them back to land and to the boats on each side of us. This is when it got dicey. While we got centred fairly well, we just couldn't get enough forward pull to keep us off the rocks that were a metre behind us. (Thank goodness the water was deep to the shoreline). I don't know yet how those other boats managed it, but I know they each had several anchors down. After trying and trying to tighten it up and still having the chain lying on the bottom so the mailboat and fuel boat wouldn't hit it when they came in, we were just not comfortable with the situation and decided to go raft off Ramha - tied to the rough wall opposite us.
Off came the lines, I motored forward while Jim gathered up the anchor chain. (Oh, I forgot to mention that our windlass is working only sporadically and he was having to pull it by hand.) But it wouldn't all come up, and then a shout came from behind - "You've snagged the catamaran!" I guess they could see its anchor rode being jerked around. At that point we dumped all the chain and 50 feet or so of nylon rode back out so I could snug us up beside Ramha and get lines secured to her.
Jim hired Nelson, a diver, to go down and sort out the anchor line - to the tune of $120. While he was there, he also put a new zinc anode on our prop shaft - a plus since we needed that done sometime soon. One of the boaters called out that he was worried we might have dislodged his anchor so Nelson checked all the anchors around us - and there were many! Each boat had at least 2 anchors down - and some were stretched right across the basin - and one boat had 4! Several of these boats have been here for months and even years.
One interesting thing about all this was that although everyone had advice, none of those boaters offered to help, or said, "This is how we did it." Having said we could go in if we wanted, they were content to watch. If Judi and Alain weren't there, we'd never have managed any of it.
In hindsight, we would probably go with the easier alternative next time instead of pushing the envelope. But we were also glad to know that in fairly calm waters with time and patience, we can back up this boat! We were glad that we didn't bash into any other boats or grind the keel on rocks. We were glad to have the zinc on, and we were glad to have the $120 available in the cash drawer. No charge to tie up on the wall by the way!
Pic is of Nelson the diver, and his support crew. In the background you can see the space into which we fit ourselves!