Tuesday, February 10, 2015

More Wind, More Drama

The wind picked up around 5 am today.  It’s been blowing 25 - 35 knots ever since.   Two foot breaking waves in the harbor.  The radio chatter in this crowded anchorage of 150 boats is, for the most part, calm and polite.

-       Dingy flipped, people in the water.  We need help!
-       Where is the flipped dingy?
-       Where are the people in the water?
-       This is “SeaCast”, we’re on our way.
-       “Intrepid” here, we coming.
-       Three boats on site.  People all okay.  Dingy needs help.

And then there are the more strident voices:
-       Cement ship is dragging, I repeat, DRAGGING!
-       How do we reach that dragging ship?  He’s coming down on us!
-       Call the Harbour Master!

Captain B monitored the cruiser in front of us from seven to nine am.  The boat was obviously dragging, the captain asleep on board with his radio off.  As we began to consider evasive maneuvers, the captain of the upwind boat finally came above decks and assessed the situation.
-       Steadfast, are you dragging?

-       Some people say that boats DO drag upwind in this anchorage, but no.  We have our anchor alarm set and we haven’t moved.  Please reset your anchor.

As we munched our late lunch, our ears picked up chatter that concerned us.  Big drama off Sand Dollar Beach.
-       “Shunpiker”, the trawler off Sand Dollar, you have a white rope trailing off your bow.
-       That’s my anchor line dragging!  Give me a break, I’m single handed and doing my best.  I’m underway and dragging IT now.

-       “Duchess” you’re dragging.
-       “Duchess” has picked up the anchor rode of “More to Life”!
-       This is “More to Life”.  We have broken loose as well.
-       This is “Duchess”:  we have no power, repeat, NO ENGINE!!!
-       Oh no!  “Duchess” is now completely tangled and caught up in the bow pulpit of “More to Life” and we need immediate assistance!  We are dragging together.
-       This is m/v “Sea Quest”.  We will call for the emergency tow vessel from port. 
-       Thank you, “Sea Quest”, have him expedite his arrival.  We are in a very bad way here.

Captain and Crew aboard Steadfast began making ship shape and forging our plan of action for all eventualities.  The two dragging boats were upwind of our position and bearing down.  “Shunpiker” was off our port side and seemingly getting himself sorted out.

Because there are so many boats in this one area and because boaters tend to rally to the call, 15 men in their dinghies flocked to the emergency.  From the fly bridge of Steadfast, it looked like orchestrated chaos.  “Duchess” (a 43 ft. catamaran) and “More to Life” (a 65 ft. trawler) were fast together, stem to stern.  A flotilla of dinghies lined up like tug boats along the hull of the cat, pushing her off the trawler.  Others began cutting lines holding the two ships together. 
-       They’re free.  “Duchess” is free from “More to Life”.  She’s still drifting!
-       Can anybody give her another anchor?  A second anchor, anyone?

The dinghy flotilla shepherded “Duchess” to shallow water and got her back to rights with a new anchor.

In the chop and swell of the two foot seas, both boats sustained non-mortal wounds:  scrapes along hulls, broken/bent davits, air scoops, solar panels, anchor rodes and snub lines.  There will be an exchange of insurance papers and information in the next couple of days.  For now, everyone is happy no body got hurt.  The anchorage is relieved that no other boats were involved and THAT crisis is resolved. 

Now for that dragging boat off Hamburger Beach…..

-  Hello All Stations, hello all stations.  This is a general announcement:  in light of the sea state and wind conditions, due to persist thru this evening, our Poker Night on shore has been postponed til Friday.  It would be imprudent for people to leave their boats tonight.  Thank you.

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