We had had a couple of comfortable days in the bay as the winds had not been as strong as forecast, but on Saturday night things changed. There had been two yachts moored together at the head of the bay for a day or two. They clearly belonged to the families that ran the two local water-skiing boats and we assumed that they had local knowledge that made this a safe thing to do in that location as it's normally very risky in any wind. At 03.00 hrs Chris heard voices and got up to investigate. The two yachts were clearly in trouble with anchors giving way and lines tangled (exactly why you don't do this 'double anchoring' thing). They managed to release one yacht that went behind us to re-anchor but the other had had his anchor out the wrong way (downwind) as part of their set up. He couldn't control his boat in the winds and crashed into the yacht moored behind him. This carried both vessels down onto the rocks behind them and into the lines of the motor yacht (see below - competitor 3). It took them about 30 minutes to free the initial yacht and tow it to windward, but then for some reason it broke free and hurtled back onto the poor victim with a crash that most of the bay heard.
Another 30 minutes saw another attempt and the yacht was towed clear and 'Victim' managed to escape and re-anchor, albeit with a badly smashed push-pit (the front bit of the yacht). Now the original yacht was being towed in front of us by the ski-boat. After two close misses as they struggled in the 25 knot winds, they lost control and this yacht ended up sitting back on our 'bridle' (two ropes that we use at the front of the catamaran attached to the chain to spread the load of the anchor and reduce swinging). So now we have another 10+ tons of boat, side on to the 25 knot winds, putting stress on our anchor and threatening to crush our bowsprit and bring down our rig. It became clear that the yacht had no power, presumably having lost or broken her propeller in the encounter with the rocks. So for 20 minutes we struggled to keep her clear of our bows and eventually they managed to tow her away again without any damage to us (other than lose of sleep and excess stress!). We got back to bed around 05.00 hrs so we were a touch tired the next day, but very thankful that our anchor held despite the excess loading. Our rating of 'Rocky the ROCNA' has increased substantially!
There is something about being the captain of large motor vessel that makes people lose any sense of consideration for others. We have seen this many times before but this weekend in Ay Ioannou aka Monastiri Bay has surpassed anything we've seen in the last 5 years since we left the UK.
There is a large rock at the head of the bay, in the centre. It seems to be a magnet for 100 foot plus motor yachts wanting to tie back to it. They don't seem to care that to do so they have to reverse back through the assembled yachts, drop huge anchors next to them and then tower over the nearest small boats. But, then it gets worse, the winds in the bay are unusual as a gap in the surrounding hills means the western side of the bay gets the predicted northerlies. In the eastern side, however the wind whips around the high curved cliffs there, accelerating the very strong gusts, and making them effectively westerlies, thus putting the wind on the side of unwary motor yachts!
When we arrived there was a gulet style yacht moored back there. He had taken account of the winds and moored at an angle to minimise the problem. He lasted a couple of days before his anchors dragged and he left. Then another huge monster came in and did the same. He lasted overnight before he left, narrowly missing two yachts as he tried to recover his anchors.
The third competitor in the 'large yacht silly anchoring' competition arrived in a 100 foot dark grey thing called 'Admiral'. I called his crew over and explained what had been happening, reminded them that the winds were getting stronger and advised that mooring there would put them and the yachts in a dangerous position. Of course he took no notice and squeezed their 'megabugger' (our term for monster power boats) into the space. By the next morning their anchors were askew (with a little help from the ski boat drama) and they decided to leave. With 20 knots of wind this is not easy and they drifted down onto a nearby charter yacht called "Beijing'', tangled their anchors in his and started to drag him around. Naturally they didn't actually notice such 'small fry' as a 45 ft yacht hanging off their bow and were merrily maneuvering until the shouts of the other boats brought their attention to the problem. Eventually they launched their rib and managed to release the yacht. Poor 'Beijing' re-anchored in the centre of the bay where he had been peacefully before.
Whilst this was going on a rib was hanging around with the sort of large straps these ships use to secure back to the shore. We guessed he came from the next 'competitor' who was loafing around at the back of the bay. Chris called them over and this time the captain was in the rib. Chris explained the past few days antics, reminded him of what had just happened and that the strongest winds were to come over the next two days. It would be very dangerous to moor back there, for him and the yachts around. The answer....'yea,yea, OK' and off they went to continue their madness. It took him two hours and a number of tries to get his ship secured back (that should have told him something) and he completely failed to account for the direction of the wind gusts, placing his ship with the winds fully on the beam. It was clear as soon as he stopped his engines that his anchors were under significant stress from the side pressure. Chris hailed him twice more pointing out that his anchors were likely to drag overnight but he was ignored.
It was a windy night with gusts in the high twenties and by morning it was clear that megabugger 'Erossea' had dragged her anchors to port as we predicted. It also looked likely that she had hooked 'Beijing's' anchor chain in the process.
Erossea catches Beijing and starts the tangle
The wind was still in the mid/high twenty knots range and we could see a dangerous situation developing as 'idiot captain' would now have to leave. He did, and immediately it was clear that 'Beijing' was again being dragged by the larger vessel. Unfortunately idiot captain (IC) didn't seem to have any idea what to do and was randomly accelerating to no effect whilst he drifted down on other yachts and his crew just stood there. 'Beijing' managed to free herself just before the assembly ploughed into the next yacht - 'Feisty' an American flagged vessel. Her anchor chain became hopelessly caught and the waltz continued towards the next victim, American flagged Oyster called 'Lulu'. She was caught as 'Erossea' continued her slide through the anchorage and her chain added to the 'cats-cradle' that IC was weaving. The unfortunate 'victim' of the previous night was now in his sights as the carnage continued and he joined the morass of meggabugger and three yachts drifting down towards the rocks at the end of the bay in a hopeless tangle.
By now Chris and 'Feisty' were calling the local coastguards and port authorities on the VHF but got no response. 'Beijing' who had re-anchored again, seemingly in safety, were the next target as Erossea ploughed on. Chris called them on VHF and suggested they got the anchor up....now! They just made it, escaping past Erossea's bows as the tangle continued on.
The lads from the water-ski boats now re-deamed themselves, jumping from their small boats onto the stricken yachts and working with the crews to do the only thing possible, cut away their anchors. Any boat should have the far end of its chain secured to the boat by rope (not for example a shackle) so that in emergency it can be cut free. With the help of the two lads all three boats were able to cut their anchors free and escape from Erossea's clutches. She continued down the bay seemingly out of control. We thought she would hit the rocks but eventually IC must have cut away his own anchors and started one engine. Amazingly he then started to drive the vessel back in to the anchorage though he clearly had no anchors and only partial control. Cue lots of caustic comments on the VHF but he continued to do this until, a few hours later, divers freed his other prop and he accelerated out of the bay into what we all hoped was a very uncomfortable passage in the strong winds!
It then took a number of hours and help from the water-ski lads before the three yachts had secondary anchors fixed to mostly rope rodes and were secure in the still difficult conditions. The night passed without further event!
We have seen a number of incidents since we left the UK but never the complete lack of consideration for others safety in combination with very little skill shown by this fool. 'Feisty' are submitting a complaint to the port authorities and Chris happily submitted a statement to support this. IC did turn up and apologise, but only to 'Lulu' for some reason, and a large recovery ship arrived to search for Erossea's anchors the next day. They promised to look for the other boats' anchors and pay for the damage as well but we don't know the outcome. The owner is clearly local and rather wealthy, lets hope he finds himself a better captain.
The crews gather for the 'post-stress dinner'
There was one good outcome, the victims gathered for a 'post stress' dinner and we were invited for Chris's contributions, playing 'harbour-master'. It was a fun evening with crews of four boats joining in and a good time was had by all.
These large mega yachts (ships really) have two massive anchors and could easily drop these in clear space, we don't understand why they all insist on mooring back to rocks. If anyone knows what drives this behavior (other than the owners insistence) we'd be interested to learn.
Main Photo: Erossea commences her assault on 'Feisty' (behind yacht in foreground) with 'Lulu' to right of shot. The rest of the tangle occurred too far away for photos and was only clear using our binoculars.