Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ships passing in the night

This morning as I sit in the cockpit in the bright sunshine, it seems like a dream.  Funny how things look so different now, in the sunshine.

We anchored here in Blind Bay yesterday afternoon in a light southeasterly breeze.  We had a relaxed afternoon and evening and went to bed, still with that light SE breeze, just providing enough ventilation to make good sleeping.

You know, when you've lived with a boat long enough, you really do get to know her intimately.  And you are sensitive to the slightest change.  A little before 04:00, there was that change.  Both Jane and I were awake - the first words were, "It came up all at once."  As we laid there and listened to the wind in the rigging, Jane said, "We took a vote - you were elected to go out and check things out." 

So I pulled on my sweats.  And the first thing I noticed was that the main saloon was flooded with light.  Now I was not fully awake, and my first thought was of the moon, which had been so bright a week or two ago.  But then I realized it wasn't the moon - it was the anchor light of a big, white powerboat - something like a Meridian 60.  And it was awfully close. 

As I gained the cockpit, I saw that the wind was blowing 20 kts, now out of the northeast - a 180 deg shift.  My first thought was that we were dragging.  But a quick survey showed that it was not us - it was the powerboat.  And it was moving right at us, slowly, inevitably, a 3-story white fiberglass wall.  I grabbed the air horn we always keep in the cockpit and blasted it at the boat, which was so close now that I was beginning to think about fenders.  I yelled, "You're dragging!  Right onto us!"

Lights appeard, shadows moved, and people got aboveboard.  Immediately the two giant diesels fired up.  But he had a problem - tho no longer hooked, he still had his anchor out and so he couldn't power forward without risking wrapping the chain around one of his shafts.  While his mate worked on getting the anchor aboard, he managed to control the boat so that it squeaked in between us and the boat anchored to our starboard side, barely.  His dragging anchor couldn't have missed ours by much.

Then he started to maneauver around behind us, looking for a new spot.  He had two giant fixed-mount searchlights pointing straight ahead, but these were not helpful since he was drifting sideways down wind.  The anchorage was crowded, but somehow he managed to avoid hitting anyone - a task made the more difficult by the many boats showing no lites at all.  (Why would people do this?  It boggles my mind.  Even a boat on a mooring buoy should have a lite - a solar-powered garden lite costs less than $3, and could save your boat one day.)

When finally he was hooked again and things had settled down, we still heard shouting.  Because it was so dark and so windy, it was hard to tell where exactly this was coming from, but it was definitely from in front of us somewhere.  were we going to need the air horn again?

We finally determined that the excitement was coming from a powerboat with three sailboats rafted up to his port side.  When the wind came up and from a new direction, they too had broken loose.  They may have had more than one anchor out, which would mean that the anchors were now tangled.  And because all the sailboats were on one side of the powerboat, he was unable to effectively maneauver.  I don't know why they didn't just break up the raft, but they didn't.  We stared hard thru the wind and darkness, and finally decided that they too had eventually managed to re-anchor.

And then I realized I had dozed off in the cockpit.  So we went back to bed, just as the sky began to lighten in the east.

And now, in the bright morning sunshine, everything looks normal.  The big powerboat is gone - left while we were sleeping.  So did the raftup.

It wasn't a dream.


Anonymous said...

No, it wasn't a dream, it was a nightmare. Glad you had a happy ending.


Mark Aberle said...

Those pesky unanticipated nocturnal ground tackle relocation exercises.

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