Following a week of idyllic weather, a strong weather front was predicted to move across later today, promising strong winds and squalls. Bob made the decision to move the boat ahead of the storm to another more secure anchorage. We were currently anchored just off Vahine Island resort where the depth went very suddenly from 100+ feet to 40, down to 12, down to… not much!
We had dropped anchor in about 25 feet and had held well for the last week with the easterly winds, but the predicted weather front with changeable winds could swing us around with a possibility that we would end up over the shallows.
It was a bit of a grey day so we decided to move the boat straight after breakfast. Unfortunately the predicted front arrived 8 hours earlier than it was forecast. The wind started blowing hard; by 9am we had 25 knots of wind gusting to 30, not an optimum time to bring up anchor in an area where you needed to navigate cautiously to avoid the shallows. With dark skies we were unable to see through the water, and the charts for this area had already proven to be wrong, so we were not relying on them for a safe passage out.
We waited for a lull between the wind and the squalls, then attempted to bring up the anchor, I say “attempted” because the chain had become wrapped around a rock on the seabed and was held fast (and I mean held fast!). Bob maneuvered the boat while I tried again and again to free the chain. The wind had picked up again and was now blowing a consistent 30+ knots. I let out more chain to give Bob room to swing the boat around but with the wind and strong current it was making it almost impossible, another heavy squall hit us and we had to take cover.
Due to having brought the chain up and down several times, in my attempt to free it from its hold on the seabed. I was unsure as to how much chain we now had down, I thought there was about 100 feet, which should be more than enough for the depth of water we were in, but was also enough for us to swing out over the shallows with an odd wind shift. The wind was now gusting to 40 knots and the heavy rain made it impossible for Bob to do anything other than attach two snubbers.evidence of the snap!
We both hunkered down under the protection of the dodger to wait out the storm, both of us believing it would calm down soon. (Wrong!) The wind didn’t drop much below 30 knots the whole day. To think it was only a couple of days ago that we Skyped Edi and showed him the delightful beach resort where we were taking a leisurely lunch, how quickly things change
I watched the Resorts little ferryboat bouncing around in the waves, transporting guests to the airport on Raiatea, and bringing new guests back. I felt so sorry for the people arriving for what has to be a very expensive vacation, in a storm like this. Their little boat really struggled to come alongside on their jetty, it was being tossed about like a cork, in the end it had to go around to the service dock to get the people safely off.
All day we waited and hoped for the storm to abate, with no joy. At noon we heard a loud bang, we both thought a wave had hit the side of the boat, then about an hour later there was another bang, we checked throughout the boat, everything seemed OK, so again we assumed it had been a wave. A third bang confirmed one of our snubbers had snapped. The boat was bouncing up and down in the waves so much the anti-chaff had been pushed down the line, so the bare line was rubbing against the steel anchor housing, wearing it so thin that it had eventually snapped in two.
Fighting against the relentless wind and squalls, Bob attached another snubber and adjusted the remaining one as best he could so it wasn’t in danger of wearing through as well.
For twelve hours Daisy has been bouncing up and down, pulling on the chain so hard it was creaking and groaning loudly every. With the wind still blowing well over 30 knots and gusting to 40 it seemed this nightmare was never ending.
I’m writing this at 8:30 at night, I’ve no idea whether either of us will get any sleep tonight we’re both quite exhausted (well at least I am), Bob is up on deck every 15 minutes checking the anchor chain and the hold of the snubbers.
So as I’m writing this, there’s suddenly two loud bangs, we both rush up on deck to see that our other snubber has shredded. “crap, crap crap”!
The snubber’s that Bob uses to secure the anchor on Daisy are often laughed at by others, as they are so huge they would hold a vessel four times Daisy’s weight, slight overkill one might think! However, in these savage, relentless conditions we managed to snap them both in the space of 12 hours! Bob then spent another hour in 35 to 40 knot winds attaching two more hastily made snubbers. If we’re still afloat in the morning I’ll write more…
This is going to be a long night…
After much ridiculous panicking on my part, I fell exhausted into bed just before 1am. The wind had finally dropped into the mid 20’s, not low enough for Bob to comfortably leave his watch, so he stayed up a little longer, under a promise to wake me if he had to venture back out on the fore deck. Eventually sometime after 2am the wind calmed enough for Bob to grab some sleep.
I could write an entire blog about what transpired the following morning, but I don’t wish to bore my readers with the tale of how brilliant my performance as “first mate” eventually turned out to be.
Suffice to say: After four stressful hours of trying unsuccessfully to maneuver Daisy and untangle our anchor chain, and scratching a load of paint off our newly painted hull, I got into the dinghy and with a little help and advice from Bob at the helm, I managed to push her around to a position where I could leap back onboard and bring up the chain… Much whooping and self-congratulary slaps on the back took place. I honestly thought we were going to have to drop the entire chain and leave it there, there was absolutely no way after a day and a half of struggling with the anchor that I ever thought we would get it up.
Happily, I can finally throw aside the “useless crew member” cap that I awarded myself when we bought Daisy ten years ago…