At Anchor

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 2 Nov 2010 00:08

At Anchor Bahia Cumberland, Robinson Crusoe Island
Wind light and variable
Weather: Sunny, warm

After a bit of a rolly night lying alongside the Ukraine vessel, Kupera, I decided that it would be best to move to anchor today for fear of damaging our respective vessels if the wind or swell should increase. I therefore spent most of the morning clearing up a little and moving to anchor. Audrey had told me that the bottom was rock, which looking around the shore I could easily believe, and poor holding so before letting go our lines I changed the anchor over to the fisherman which generally holds better in rock. While working away at the anchor I took the time to admire the scenery. Robinson Crusoe Island is a steep mountainous island, Cumberland Bay an indent in the coast line where a large steep valley meets the sea. Its headlands protecting it on either side thrust out boldly and end abruptly. The eastern promontory is dark red rock, erosion exposing its horizontally layered face, while the western promontory was green and, while still bold, presented a softer face, protecting the short wharf under its flank where a small ship lay discharging its cargo. The shoreline was dotted with numerous houses, some still clearly wearing the scars of the tsunami that swept though here early this year.

When I had finished changing the anchor we parted company with Kupera and motored to what looked like a good spot between some moorings, a French vessel at anchor and the shore in 10 meters of water. I let go the anchor and 40 meters of chain then slowly backed down with the engine to ensure that the anchor set. Unfortunately it did not. The chain became taught but we slowly dragged closer to the shore. And it didn’t sound too rocky either, as when the anchor drags across a rocky sea floor you can hear the anchor and chain rattle very distinctly. So I enjoyed a good workout hauling the anchor back in, then motored out of the bay a little, changed the anchor back over to the CQR, returned to my prevuously selected spot and let go the anchor a second time. This time it held.

The next job was to go and clear in with the Port Captain. I didn’t take long to get the dinghy in the water and I enjoyed the row along the shoreline looking for a suitable place to land. It was a beautiful day, a cloudless blue sky overhead, the sea smooth and clean beneath, the sun shining and the air warm. While the sea was smooth there was still a slight swell running, and the shore was indeed rocky, consisting mostly of small round boulders and large stones in between sharp black outcrops, upon which the swell broke with a small surf.  I rowed in the general direction of the wharf where I knew the Port Captain’s office lay and soon found a nice little landing spot where a concrete slab sloped gently into the sea with some fine dark sand around its foot. With the dinghy high and dry I found the Port Captain’s office up a hill a ways in some white prefabricated buildings where the necessary paperwork was undertaken. The Port Captain was standing in the office in very casual civilian clothes such that initially I mistook him for another yachtsman. He graciously forgave my mistake and we chatted amiably as the sailor behind the counter processed my zarpe. Once that was done I took a short stroll around the village. There is only a small amount of level ground in the Bay and many of the houses are built on the sides of the valley walls disappearing into the interior of the island. An old and rudimentary fort with low black stone walls (what else could they have been made of?) seemed tucked away in a non too strategic position, its seaward face still bristling with numerous iron cannons. I tried to work my way round to get a closer view of it but it was surrounded by private houses and wire fences, I decided to leave it for another day, tomorrow perhaps. The damage from the tsunami was still very evident along the shore line, many houses were being repaired, some structures, particularly a couple of large satellite dishes lay twisted and mangled, rusting on the ground, and a lot of debris had been collected into large white polyethylene bags in three separate sites, presumably awaiting later removal. Closer to the wharf corrugated iron had been stacked onto pallets along with what had once been 44 gallon drums, their tops and bottoms having been cut off and their sides slit and laid flat on the pallets, again presumably ready to be shipped away for recycling. Clearly the community here was well down the path of recovering it normalcy. With the feeling of peace and serenity that seemed to envelope the village, perhaps the great valley that embraces it gives it a sense of secure nurturing, like a small child being held in its mother’s arms, it was hard to imagine the people that live here being anything but peaceful and serene also.

I am pleased to report that while BC is still not well he seems a little better today, has eaten a little and seems to have a little more strength.  He even used his cat tray a couple of times.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz