14 June 2016
From the heat of the Tropical Atlantic, at 22N, 51W, my thoughts have drifted back to Antarctica.
We anchored off Elephant Island (61 08S, 54 40W) to wait out a storm. There are no good anchorages at Elephant Island, so we spent a day motoring around to various places, looking for a reasonable place to anchor for the coming storm.
The best anchoring spot seemed to be a a shallow indentation off the beach on the NE (leeward) side of the island. The closest cliffs were not really high, so the gusts coming off them would be less than at several other places we looked at.
There was a sticky, mud bottom 25m down. The bottom fell off rapidly, so if we dragged anchor, the depth would increase quickly, so our effective scope would be reduced and the anchor might not reset, so we would be blown to sea to face the storm there. In the expected winds, motoring back to re-anchor would not be possible. We set and tested the anchor, and put the snubber on.
The storm built gradually. As the wind increased, Issuma charged back and forth on her anchor more and more. The windage of the roller-furled jib caused her to turn away from the wind, and move until the anchor chain tigntened, which turned the boat around and pulled the boat towards the anchor until it was close enough that the chain slackened and the bow blew off in the other direction to start the cycle again. This was putting a big, intermittent load on the anchor, and I was concerned that it might drag.
I set the mainsail with the fourth reef (love that fourth reef!) in, and sheeted it tight amidships. The motion of the boat immediately changed. No longer did it charge back and forth. Now the boat put a steady, lesser (than the peaks) load on the anchor, and swung very little.
It was exciting to watch the gusts coming off the cliffs, traveling down at a ferocious speed, hitting the water and causing clouds of spray to rise before they pushed out horizontally away from the cliff, raised waves, and made their way to where we were anchored. It was delightful to feel securely anchored while the storm howled all around us.