December 28, 2018
With a new front coming our way, we decided to duck behind Rose Island, which is a smallish island east of New Providence and Paradise Islands. We were excited to see we wouldn’t be alone riding out the storm at anchor, as there were about 8 other boats anchored nearby. We sailed the 10 hours from Great Harbor Cay to Rose Island on Erik’s birthday, which also happens to be Christmas Eve, and he had the best birthday present when, under both Main and Jib, we made over 10 knots! Our fun and joy would be short lived however, once the storm arrived.
On Christmas morning, we saw several boats leave, and curious, we hailed them on the radio to find out. This is how we became friends with Bryan and Jen from S/V Karma. They took their cat and left and about an hour later, came back. Over the radio, they advised that it was just too rough outside and would stay put. We invited them over for cocktails and learned that they have been living minimalistically for years – first in a van and now, on their catamaran. In fact, we were very excited to connect some dots that they were in the slip at Harbour Towne Marina getting work done by Maz Ocean just before we did! It really is such a small world.
With good Christmas cheer, and pretty lubricated, we said our goodbyes as they were heading to a marina in the morning to get re-stocked prior to some friend’s arrival.
On Wednesday, the day after Christmas, all but 3 boats had left, and that included us. We started to worry we’d made a bad decision in staying but so far, with the heavy wind gusts, we’d been perfectly fine at anchor. That anchor ROCKS. Post-note: That anchor is KING!
But stay we did. By Thursday, with sustained winds in the high 20s and gusts in the low-to-mid 30s (or so we presume, because our Windex is STILL broken), we talked about making the short motor ride to a marina and paralyzed by any decision, I couldn’t decide either way. Erik said he’d take responsibility if things ended badly, whatever that would mean. After all, I couldn’t choke out any decision through the watery haze of my tears. You know that phrase “paralyzed by fear”? Yeah, that.
As the last boat in our anchorage left, leaving us completely and wholly alone, and with winds directly on our bow, and current and waves pushing us toward the rocky cliffs behind our boat, we had a very uncomfortable and frightening night.
Winds were howling, and our boat made noises like it was breaking. Floors were creaking, water was slapping her upside the freeboard, and I couldn’t eat. Not one thing. And on top of this: I couldn’t really talk and worse, I couldn’t drink – not wine, not water. All I could do was grab tissue and scold myself inside for being such a scaredy-cat. We’d been in this anchorage with high winds (OK, the highest winds were that day, Thursday) since Sunday. The anchor hadn’t budged. Not only did we have our visual cues (white rock on one side, twin rocks on the other) and anchor alarm, but we had been tracking the swing with our laser range finder and were not dragging. We seriously thought maybe we had lodged the anchor under a rock, which was a very real possibility and gave me something new to worry about.
Since it was too bouncy to sleep downstairs, we both gave up even trying and grabbed blankets and slept in the cockpit. I actually felt better being able to see the land when the mast would shudder as if we were in the middle of a tropical storm.
I had the chance to move us to a marina. I chose not to. In some ways, I think subconsciously I wanted to see how far I could push myself outside my comfort zone – and how strong our boat was. Given I’m posting this, it should be clear to note that not only did I survive the ordeal, I actually feel more confident about both me and M&L.
As always, Erik was calm through the storm and patient with me. Well to a point at any rate. At some point, he has to trust that my fears won’t incapacitate my abilities in the event shit really hits the fan. Which brings me to the next trial.
Friday morning, Erik wanted to move us further up the island where other boaters had told us the holding was good, and the swell less severe. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to take any risks that a) we couldn’t get the anchor up and I’d panic, and 2) we’d have a sleepless night again worrying about dragging. He relented and we had yet another painful night sleeping on the hard cushions of the cockpit.
Saturday, the winds lessened and the sun was shining. And we were still rocking. Erik lowered the dinghy into the water so we could get off the boat and onto a beach to stretch our legs, but we were still sporting 2’ rollers.
Erik: “That’s it, get your headset. We’re moving.”
Me: “OK” inner voice: you got this, we can do this.
The anchor started coming up and with my eye on the bridle, and not the anchor chain, I managed to let the chain wrap itself under the windlass. Trying to keep calm, I told Erik I would need his help to free the chain. He came down, and with a strong jerk, got the chain free and I continued to raise up the hook.
Me: “OK, I see the bridle… The bridle is within reach… I’m moving forward to unhook it… It’s free, heading back… Turn slightly to port… Pull back a foot… I can see the anchor… Anchor is out of water…”
And just like that, we were free. 300 yards east, we reset the anchor. And I was calm. And then we were free to enjoy the rest of the day, as we would leave on Sunday for the Exumas, where it surely would be calmer, warmer, and the seas less sporty. Right?
Next: Sailing to Allen’s Cay to just chill for a bit