Nightmares in France

Bob & Sue Dall
Sat 19 Mar 2011 00:46
Having finally got everything done in Bequia including a hair cut, which cost less than a litre of milk and a bunch of bananas, we set off to St Lucia. Its 70nms into wind so we decide to leave at 4am which on the plus side, means we get some sleep before setting off , but its very dark at 4am and the first hour or so is rather tense as we avoid unlit boats in the anchorage and try and remember which lights are used for a vessel over 50 metres, being towed and restricted in its ability to maneuver. . . .
After a long slog Rodney bay comes into sight and we have a settled night at anchor. The purpose of stopping in Rodney Bay is to pick up the new shackle for the cruising chute which disappeared in the Atlantic somewhere! Then we spot a Naiad 390 from Hamburg so stop to say hello. Its a beautiful boat in fabulous condition for 19yrs and its for sale if anyone's interested?
An hour later and our 25 nm beat up to Martinique is looking a bit unlikely, its already 12.30, but within half an hour we pull up the anchor and go for it. Today luck was with us we stormed along at 8.5 kts most of the way, and arrived by 4pm! Sailing conditions were near perfect for our boat. I had just mentioned to Bob that there was only one thing missing, Dolphins. . . we hadn't seen any for about 6 weeks, when a minute later a pod of 40 or 50 arrived !!!! They were very lively, leaping out of the water in huge arcs and the odd vertical take off! it was the most spectacular display we had ever seen.. . . . Bob was a bit apprehensive about what I would say next. . . .
We arrived in Grande Anse D'arlet in fine spirits, and after a couple of attempts to find the right spot we settled at anchor , perfect. . Flushed with success, Bob got the dinghy assembled so we could go ashore and stroll down the beautiful beach and have a beer. . . .What could possibly go wrong now ?
As we put our shoes in the dinghy the wind picked up a bit, so we decided to watch the sun set until things settled ,but the gusts got stronger and stronger, (reminiscent of our terrible time in Guadalupe,) as the sun disappeared we realized that we were slipping anchor, slowly at first, then things speeded up ,we had to take action and reposition. With Bob at the wheel I went forward and brought up the anchor as we slipped backwards , then the chain stuck, we were in 30 metres of water by this stage but I couldn't get the anchor to shift, we were drifting dangerously close to another large yacht. It took a while to realize that the anchor was actually free (that's how we managed to drift) but the chain had got jammed in the winding up mechanism. Bob got his tool kit and came forward just as I dropped the anchor locker door on my foot, I could feel the blood squelching between my toes. I took over the helm and played dodgems in the dark with the fishing pots while Bob took the windlass apart. . . Finally back together in full working order we try to re anchor, Our next 5 or 6 attempts result in dragging through rock, we contemplate night sailing but the dinghy is tied to the back of the boat with the outboard still on it and the wind is to strong to attempt to get it back on board, we cant risk losing it, we swap roles again and end up back were we had originally anchored, this time it had to work. . . .I got the anchor down and as it settled Bob put the boat into reverse to set it, then came the strange noise. . . .
It was about 9pm by now, we had to stop and think. . After a quick snorkel Bob announced that we were firmly attached to a large fishing trap with its rope completely entangled round our propeller. . .at least we couldn't go anywhere! There was only one thing for it, . Bobs first night dive! Armed with only a bread knife, he disappeared into the darkness. . I dangled over the end of the boat with my TKMax LED lantern to provide some underwater light. . . and, at the same time, illuminate my blood saturated foot!
At last Bob managed to free us ,the wind dropped, and we managed a little bit of sleep.. . .

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