More Anchor Travails
21 February 2012
Recall that we could not get moorings in Marathon Harbour due to the convergence of so many cruising boats so we anchored in a crowded anchorage area. This is where the famous bicycle retrieval incident occurred. We, along with our cruising buddies, were a bit anxious anchoring here because we were expecting a blow with changing wind directions. To add to the complexity, the boats are quite close, some boats use several anchors which means that they will not swing the same way into the wind as we would with one. Also there are various types of boats here; again contributing to the disparate swing tendencies. Suffice it to say that we were edgy in anticipation of the "blow" and wished we would have been able to get a mooring. And blow it did. I spent virtually the entire night in the cockpit of the boat watching Sea Sharp swing pendulosly sometimes in sync with neighbouring boats; at others looking to come perilously close. I/m particularly worried about an old steel boat anchored with several anchors next to me. In the event of contact, you'd be sure I'd get the worse of it.
So, I spend a restless, then cold night as the front passes, night in the cockpit. At daybreak the wind settles down a bit and, of course, the comfort of daylight makes the fears of the night dissipate and I hit the bunk for an hour or two of sleep. It continues to blow but the front has spent itself and we're fine. I did note a neighbouring boat drag anchor around 4 o'clock and fetch up with his neighbour; not a fun thing to happen. They somehow extricate themselves and re-anchor somewhere. I don't think there was serious damage but certainly there would have been scuffs and scratches.
The winds abate but continue to clock and we decide to move Sea Sharp a bit to get out of the way of the aforementioned steel boat. It's still quite blustery and Judy and I try at least three attempts in close quarter conditions before we satisfactorily get our anchor stuck again. And, of course we continue to be haunted by what we may dredge up from the bottom of this very busy harbour.
Things settle down and we enjoy several pleasant days at anchor waiting for a mooring assignment.. Because of the inclement weather, boats are not moving but when the high pressure moves in and the sun comes out again boats start to move and we get a mooring. We are happy to move closer to the facilities and the security of a hurricane-rated mooring. Our several cruising buddies who were anchor with us also get mooring assignments. Blair and Laurie on Odissea XX finally get one (they need a larger mooring given the size and weight of their boat). Mid afternoon, I get a radio call from Blair asking for help; he cannot get his anchor up; it appears lodged in something substantial on the sea bottom. Certainly more substantial than a 26" bicycle. So, I head off in the dinghy to help. And true to form, we are joined by several other cruisers who cannot wait to help out a fellow cruiser in need of assistance. Blair is a diver and has scuba gear and dives on the anchor. He surfaces to report that the anchor chain is lodged in some large obstruction on the bottom; he figures an old sunken derelict boat from this point on known as the "sunken Chris Craft". The solution is several hours of work, mostly by Blair who is doing the diving. But the several rest of us, notably Blair's wife Laurie did yeoman's duty in participating in the recovery.
To summarize a complicated and somewhat indescribable adventure, Blair's anchor chain had wrapped underneath and around this obstruction making it impossible to retrieve the anchor. We first had to relive the pressure on the anchor and did this by running a line to the neighbouring boat who graciously became the "temporary anchor" for Odissea XX. Blair then had to dive on the anchor, tie a line and float to it an remove the chain from the anchor by cutting the "keeper" and unscrewing the shackle. Sounds simple, eh? Well, this is twelve feet under the murky water and Blair has a bad cold. To make matters worse, he runs out of air in his tank. No worries, a neighbouring boat comes to the rescue with an external air device called a Hookah and Blair completes this procedure. So, the anchor is now freed from the chain tethered to a rope and float for future retrieval. We cast off from the neighbour's boat and with Laurie at the helm, Blair on the windlass and me and Brian in the dinghy to try to fend off if necessary, they bring the chain in. It fetches up mightily but the 45,000 pounds of Odissea XX is eventually too much for the rotting sunken Chris Craft and with a great surfacing of detritus plywood from the bottom, the chain finally drags its way back to the boat. Now, to retrieve the anchor. They manoeuvre Odissea XX to the tethered rope temporarily attached to the anchor which Blair liberated from the chain. The strain on the rope was awesome as they worked to bring it back in but finally it broke out an they were able to bring the anchor back on board and reattach it to its parent chain an all was well. A tired Blair and Laurie worked their way to their assigned mooring.
Despite the strains and fatigue of this adventure we had been invited to happy hour on old sailing friends from Fredericton, Maxine and Brian from Benchmark. And true to cruiser form, we all showed up and reprised this now fun adventure in increasing drama. We met new friends and renewed our friendship with Brian and Maxine.
Just another day in the life of a cruiser.