So far it seems that the main hazards to avoid when
crossing the Pacific
Ocean, are not the elements. Indeed the most hazardous things seem
to be other boats!
When we were manoeuvring Beaujolais to get into an extremely tight berth in
Shelter Bay Marina, we came perilously close to hitting another boat with our
davits. Luckily, Rob, quickly jumped aboard the other boat and fended us
Then when we were going through Gatun Lock, we were
heading for a collision with the lock wall, when the crew of Silandra V didn’t take the lines in
So far so good. The other night there was the incident of
the Motor boat whose stern anchor broke loose and they touched our bow, Sheralee
fended off, while Roger jumped aboard the other boat to help the single crew
member, keep his boat off us and the rocks.
Then last night. Roger and I were just settling down to
watch a movie, when a catamaran called Valkiria, came into the anchorage.
Anchoring at night is never advisable, especially in a small anchorage with
quite a few boats.
Anyway, this guy drops his anchor right in front of our
bow, then proceeds to let out lots of chain and falling back until he was
alongside us on our port side, between ourselves and Elcie. Once the guy had
anchored, the passengers all applauded ( we assume it was a charter), but Roger
was far from impressed.
Roger called over and we said that when the tide turned
and if the wind changed during the night it would be his problem and he would
have to move (normal etiquette) to which the guy said ‘si’.
Roger, not being happy about it, was obviously sleeping
lightly, because at about 1am his internal clock woke him as the tide was about
to change and so he got up to check. When he saw how close the cat was to
Elcie, he called Richard on the radio to alert him. Richard told him that they
had already hit him and that the guy had no intention of moving. Richard also
warned Roger that he would be next.
Roger sat up in the cockpit to keep an eye on things. At
about 03.30 I heard him jump onto the afterdeck, so I dressed and joined him.
Vlakiria was about to wipe out not only our dinghy and davits, but also our
solar panel. Roger called Valkiria and their crew came on deck and in what
Spanish I could muster I told them they had a problem and they must drop back
immediately. Roger told them to put their engine on, but they just kept saying
‘tranquillo’ and moved to try and fend us off, by using our solar panel! Roger
shouted no, so I shouted ‘no tocar’ meaning don’t touch. They kept trying to
fend off using the solar panel, Roger "prevented" him from doing so and kept
them off with his feet.
Finally, when one guy said ‘tranquillo’ for the
5th time, I replied ‘no tranquillo, es urgent, regressa a hora,
immediatemente’. It seemed to work as one guy finally went back and started the
engine. The other crew member kept trying to fend off and went to push against
our solar panel, when Roger’s hand came down on his arm ‘No Tocar!!’ He was
going to try again until Roger raised his hand again.
They dropped back, but now their chain was right under
our boat, which meant we couldn’t start our engine if we needed to and they
couldn’t take their chain in. Finally the skipper (and I use the term loosely)
on Valkiria let out more scope (more anchor chain), motored sideways from
under us and then took in their chain, raised their anchor and went to find
So another sleepless night, another near miss and another
lesson that you have to trust yourself and your instincts. You can’t always
assume that the other person knows what they are doing, or indeed