Ocean frying pan, harbour fire!

Sun 25 Nov 2012 11:14
Sunday, November 25th
Position, about 50 metres from last time!
Prophet, I am not: So we can relax without guilt for 48 hours?! To start off things did go well, especially our visit to Cafe Fish on the quayside on Friday evening, spectaculary good seafood, and fortunately a veg. option for Geoff, and excellent chaep house red wine. Saturday morning however, we began to be aware of unrest in the anchorage, various dinghies dropped by, it is how we comunicate with one another, and all wanted to know how we were planning to survive the next 48 hours. It dawned on us that we had hurried in to Durban to avoid a Southerly gale, that this was now imminent, and that although in harbour, we were in exposed shallow water in a very crowded anchorage. We were told to expect a peak of at least 35kts of wind at 02.00 local time. Too much information, so we went into Town for a little retail supermarket therapy, and for a liesurely light lunch at the Y.C. Back on board we moved our position a little to try to give ourselves a little more depth and swinging room, and started to batten down the hatches. At 5pm the wind blasted in accross the harbour fetch, and all hell was unleashed!
At least we had got back on board in time: several other crews were still in the bar, and they struggled out in their dinghies to rejoin their charges. And charge we did. The abrupt change of wind through 180 degrees caused a complete realignment of the boats, everyone having rather different lengths of anchor scope. Each boat then set out on a yawing motion on the end of their tethers, which was sadly uncoordinated: the result was that we were frequently very close to surrounding boats, but we thought, probably safe from collision. Our next concern was whether our anchors would all hold in the mud: If the boats upwind of us were to slip they would fall back on our bows and carry us all away. If we were to slip we would end up on a hard sandbank only a very few yards from our stern. We let out the last few metres of our chain, only to discover that we then had less than half a metre of water under the keel. So we hauled back 5 metres, and that gave us another 25cm. Not much, but nowhere else to go, so we made reassuring gestures of bravado to the crews all around us, and went below.
Well, we are all still here on the following morning, and although the wind is still quite strong at 25 kts plus, the worst seems to be over. Indeed our immediate neighbours have risked the dinghy trip back to the bar at the YC. Everyone else is staying put, and we have yet another lost night's sleep to catch up on. The wind should quieten overnight, just possibly there is an opportunity to leave on Tuesday. We will keep you posted. Text news from home is that the weather there is aweful too, must be dear old global warming to blame. Anyway good luck to the running Fishers in the rain, and to the Northen Ireland sailor. Everyone else, keep heads down!