Things That Go Bump in the Night

Are usually not good things.

Don’t tell the Europeans, but there’s this running commentary among Americans about how the French love to anchor right on top of you no matter how much extra room is in the anchorage. Yesterday it was the Germans. I’m sure they say the same about Americans. Touché.

Anyways, as I was headed to bed around 10 I took one last look at the newest arrival to the anchorage, a 46-foot German boat anchored probably 50 feet upwind of me. I knew that if I wanted to leave before he did I’d have to ask him to move forward so that I could retrieve my anchor.

But with the winds gusting to over 25 knots, it’s not easy to fall asleep with a boat that close to you directly upwind. I’d try to go to sleep, then pop my head out of the hatch above my bunk to take a look. Is he closer? The same? It’s hard to tell at night and your brain will believe whatever you want it to believe.

Everyone has an anchor-dragging story.  If you don’t, you’re lying.

I wanted to believe that he was secure where he was at.  Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, has some weedy patches with poor holding.

Okay, he hasn’t moved, go to sleep. Yes, sleep. There you go…off to sleep…

No, one more look. It sure looks like he’s closer. Great. Now I’ll never sleep. Just try. There you go, back to sleep…

Then I opened my eyes and without even picking my head up off of my pillow, could see his masthead light through my hatch. Ok, now that’s close.

So I turned my deck light on and ran up top. Sure as shit he was considerably closer than when I went to bed. I flashed a bright light at his boat and shouted the boat name but no one answered as he kept creeping closer.

I tried knocking on his hull with my boat hook, but he was just out of reach. The next time he swung by my bow he was two feet too far. Then one foot. Then I could just barely tap it. Then finally on the next swing by I was really able to bang on the railings. He finally emerged, totally confused as I would be too.

But it didn’t really seem like he was in a hurry, or remotely awake, cause he just kinda looked around as his boat finally got to a distance I could step aboard.

He finally turned the engine on and went up front to start pulling the chain in. Well, when the anchor is dragging and you just pull it in without driving the boat forward, you’ll just keep drifting backwards faster and faster as the anchor is brought up.

So now I’m fending him off, his hull broadside against my bow, like I was T-boning his boat, but his boat is almost twice as large as Saoirse.  He keeps pulling his anchor up as he’s drifting backwards and predictably his anchor snags my chain.

Fortunately his anchor snagged my chain at the waterline and not somewhere in the murky darkness down below. That could have ended up in a giant ball of fuck if our anchors and chain became tangled below us!

At this point I realized I needed to turn my engine on in case I had to move in a hurry so I ran back to the cockpit to crank it. Also, his dinghy was secure on deck so he wasn’t getting in the water to untangle this. At around this time his crewmate finally emerged from down below. Welcome to the party, and fashionably late!

Thankfully this night I was too lazy to hoist my dinghy out of the water, because if I did, it would have been smashed between the two of us. I jumped down into it, started it up, and moved forward to unhook his anchor from my chain. I got it free, he drifted backwards, and pulled the rest of his anchor in.

So where does he go next? Right to the same spot he was anchored earlier, or maybe 100 feet forward. Why can’t you just anchor behind me this time?  There’s like 200 yards of clear sand back there.

Now past 11:30pm, I sat on my deck for about 15 minutes to make sure my own anchor was still set and didn’t become dislodged. I wasn’t moving, so it was back to bed, but starting this drill over from the top again.

This time I grabbed the laptop to knock this post out while I monitor his boat out of my hatch.

It’s past midnight and I’ll try this sleep thing again.

Public Service Announcement

Hey kids, please make sure your anchors are set before you go to bed, and go easy on the booze at night in case this shit happens (I took a break from drinking today after the last few days of Carnival; I could see empty bottles in their cockpit – not to say they were hammered but I’ve seen many a hammered sailor almost fall of their boat at night).

PS – 12:18am and I hear commotion up there.  Shouting and the sounds of anchor chain moving.  At least they’re aware.  Goodnight.

PPS – Daylight revealed no damage to Saoirse, the other boat wasn’t dangerously close, and the guys stopped by to check on things.

What’s your worst anchor-dragging story?

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