Nigel North
Thu 7 Jun 2012 13:58

Tuesday, 5 June 2012 UNION ISLAND

 Well had a think and a look at the alternatives today, to Granada, or direct to Trinidad? By the time Id faffed about all day it was too late to go to customs or anywhere really, and I didn’t feel like starting early tomorrow. It can wait a bloody day. This is not the SAS selection course, and Im still feeling a bit floppy and low on energy generally. What I should have done today but didn’t think of until too late was re-anchor.

Its evening now and were rolling around in 25 knots with some southerly in it I think - the worst option for me here in the entrance to the reef as the swell will run in. But at least, fingers crossed, the Rocna is doing well. Better had!

Heavy rain earlier, so its shut the forw’d hatch time which stops the cooling through flow of air, but the fans make up for it. However the rain doesn’t usually last long.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012 ANCHORS, BREAD AND FLIES

Last night was a rolly old night with a swell coming in from the SE - just what you dont want sitting here on this reef. Then at 0430 there was a terrific downpour - I thought it was a massive wind coming because of the noise but it was just the rain hitting the water, but even so the winds were over 30 knots for a while. It didnt seem to last that long. Well the forecast grib files said Wednesday would be wet, and wet it is, completely overcast. I really ought to re anchor, but in this light its not easy to see reefs etc. Ill get another forecast now, and see whats going on.

0830 Its blowing a steady 35knts now, but we havent dragged.

Decided to re-anchor a bit further in after having a look in the dinghy first - it looked like good holding in sand close to the inside of the reef. I was soon to regret this decision. Firstly, between making the decision to move and doing it, the wind increased to well over 25 kts. Secondly, a couple of boatboys took up their sentinel position on the reef edge hooked onto a small buoy of their own just in front of me; they would be trying their very best to persuade me to take one of their unofficial, uninsured, and unreliable moorings.

Anchoring single handed requires you to be on the wheel to position the bow where you want the anchor, then up on the bow to drop the anchor buoy in and run the windlass out, lowering the anchor. By the time youve made your way up ford the wind will have blown the bow off sideways one way or the other and the boat will be drifting backwards - quite rapidly in a strong wind - which is not what you want as by the time the anchor reaches the seafloor you could be some way from your desired position and in much deeper water if it shelves, as it does here.

So I brought the bow in, went up ford, dropped the small green anchor buoy in that Marcel had found me on a beach in Portugal, and my right toe was on the lower switch on the deck running out the chain. But we had blown off and were drifting fast backwards towards Horseshoe Reef in the middle of the harbour, and worse, the chain was grumbling away, sometimes fetching up sharp then going slack - we were dragging! But so confident was I in the Rocna anchor, I had soon run out enough chain and attached the snubber line to it without really appreciating that it was dragging. Which meant that when I did realise, all this had to be undone before I could wind it all back on board. Of course, this was great entertainment for the two big locals in their seaboats just a few yards away, one of whom had by now arrived in his boat alongside to shout offers of a dodgy mooring for me. I declined. Drifting backwards towards a reef with an anchor half out is not a good time for having a chat. Whilst youre on the windlass in the bow you obviously cant be on the wheel as well, driving the boat, so we drifted until the anchor was back up. Start again.

I thought this time that although it had dragged a bit, it had finally dug in and so tested it with some reverse power. We drifted back fast, as if unattached to anything. More gesticulations from the locals - making the shape of a buoy with their hands - more rejections of their entreaties from me. I couldnt understand it, what was going on?

I went round for a third attempt. Same again. More offers of buoys. My answer was now decidedly tetchy. Chain out. Chain in again. Dash back, this time only just in time to avoid an old rusty merchant ship I was being blown into. The fourth attempt was back towards the spot that had held me well since arrival, but there were now those two boats moored right where I wanted to drop, so had to move off left. Same result. Dragging. They never gave up. With every failure I would be given another round of mimed offers and shouted somethings from these two. NO I DO NOT WANT A MOORING! I was fast losing it.

For the fifth attempt I came right in close to their boats, but moved off a little left again, and this time tried a modified technique to get the anchor down before we started blowing off and drifting back. The plan was to leave the wheel with the engine run up to power the windlass but not driving the prop, but still edging forward which I hoped would keep us straight until I could get up to the bow and the wind stopped the boat.

It worked. The anchor held.

Overnight the wind was strong again, over 30kts and by morning there was swell coming in rocking the boat, but the anchor held fast. I had hoisted the dinghy out of the water on the starbd side as an anti theft measure, but by midnight I was concerned that the strong winds might fly Perky and damage it, so I dropped it back in the water with a chain on it instead.

Flies: Its hard to kill a fly. You usually need a flyswatter but I havent got one. Anything else - books, magazines, dishcloths, sticks, hands, none of them work as by the time you deliver your ridiculously severe blow they are long gone thanks to their fully automatic motion sensing devices and spring pre-loaded legs. But, I have a secret weapon which does work.

Mothers bread knife. Dont ask me why, but it works every time, if you aim just behind them with the blade flat. Honest!

I have finally solved the mystery of why my bread making efforts in Bequia proved so disastrous. The flour I used had been bought in Gran Canaria but the labels were in Spanish of course. But it looked ok. But it didnt rise. Well, just a tad, but nothing like the doubling in size its supposed to. Well I finally got round to translating the label in my new and excellent Spanish for Cruisers ringbound book, and I have six bags of breadcrumbs. Very fine breadcrumbs, but breadcrumbs. So to make up for it, yesterday I made some proper bread with proper flour and Ive already eater half a loaf. Its not the same as real bread even so, much firmer and heavier than the lightweight loaves we buy, but tastes good. But next time Ill wash up immediately. Dough sets like concrete.