Wind, waves, weed and more wind – Thursday 21st February

Position: Moriarty Bay, lungtalanana/Clarke Island

We had spent a teeth-gritting 24 hours sitting tight in Rebecca Bay with 30 knot winds whistling in the rigging and the boat slewing and rolling enough to make everything squeak so that I wouldn’t have noticed that tap-tapping of the shower door at all! We were both feeling a bit blue so today we discussed moving to another anchorage where we could get out of the swell at least, and be better protected from the forecast south-westerly change. Our two best options were Moriarty Bay, on the eastern side of Clarke Island, about 1 hour away, or if that was no good, Burgess Bay on the east end of Cape Barren Island about 5 hours away. After debating the wisdom of moving when we were safe versus the risk of staying in the SW wind, we decided to go.

Once again we donned all our safety gear, lifted the pick and nosed out of the bay. All four crew on board the neighbouring boat watched us – with incredulity or simple curiosity I’m not sure – and as soon as we’d left they pulled up anchor and moved to where we had been!

The wind and waves were a little less scary than on our arrival, and this time both were at our back; however, the strong tides were flowing against us so our progress was very slow – about 4.5 knots where we would normally be doing 6.5-7.

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At Moriarty Bay we found one other yacht anchored off the beach. We nosed into the corner of the bay hoping for the best protection, and dropped anchor.

Now I should explain a bit about this process. Our preferred roles are Derek at the helm and me at the pointy end of the boat operating the anchor winch. There are lots of details I won’t go into, but in order to do the job properly it requires good communication. We’ve developed a system of hand signals, but often this isn’t enough and we have to yell to one another over the noise of the engine and the wind. One of our pre-trip investments was a pair of radio headsets which we use for anchoring – amazing! Now we can instruct, discuss, debate and suggest to our hearts’ content. No, really it makes the job so much easier. I insert this here as after we arrived and ate breakfast our new neighbour, a white two-masted yacht, pulled up anchor and came over to chat. Unfortunately the wind was too strong to converse easily and we couldn’t get them on the radio, so that was in vain. Anyway, they then went off to anchor nearby and I watched them having trouble. Soon I saw why: they had a huge bunch of weed attached to the anchor preventing them from getting a hold. Then I looked at our position, and the position of those rocks that had been over there, but were now looking a bit too close for comfort! Oh no, we’re dragging anchor too! I yelled to Derek and he rushed back up on deck – with the headsets.

Now I was able to easily let him know which direction the anchor was laying; that the rope was jammed sideways in the bow roller (grr!) and which way to drive to get it to pop back; how I was progressing removing the snubber; how the splice that joins the anchor chain wouldn’t wind back onto the capstan; how much chain was left to pull up… all before those rocks got too close! Perhaps I’m making it sound too dramatic? Anyway, when I did get it up, yes, we also had a lump of seaweed attached! As Derek motored us into a safer position I used the boat hook (a very important piece of equipment – make sure that doesn’t fall overboard!) to poke off the seaweed and then we came around for another try.

Through the clear waters it is possible to see the patches of weed on the bottom, but only when the sun is shining and the wind isn’t ruffling the surface too much. I directed him to a clear patch, but then came the trick of lowering the anchor through six or so metres of water just at the right time to land in it. Well, this time I didn’t quite hit the spot. I laid out all the chain and it was quickly evident that it was dragging again. This time when I pulled it up there was a veritable sea-monster attached. Huge ribbons of seaweed were meshed into a ball so that you couldn’t see the anchor at all, and they wafted away like long tentacles. It also made the anchor so heavy I couldn’t get it up and tripped the windlass motor (dash down below, reset the switch, dash back up, while Derek does circles). It took me about ten minutes to unhook the sea-monster and return him to the deep and he left a trail of straps and ribbons of weed all over the deck.

Next time we were sure to find a big clear patch of sand and all went smoothly, so that we are now sitting secure in a windy but FLAT anchorage, awaiting the change. We will set an anchor alarm tonight and hopefully get a better night’s sleep. Tomorrow the winds are forecast to drop to a much more respectable 10-15 knots and we plan to make our way east and north to Lady Barron for a taste of civilisation. Internet, shops, a top up of diesel, a walk ashore and maybe the holiday will begin in earnest!? I think showers are in order for all of the crew tonight followed by spaghetti bolognese.

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3 thoughts on “Wind, waves, weed and more wind – Thursday 21st February

  1. Ian Jeanneret says:

    Wow! I was right there with you. I suspect the dialogue was not quite as polite as you intimate over the headsets but a great idea. Wonderfully described. Until you’ve been in that situation it is difficult to understand how setting an anchor can be so complex. I mean we say ‘drop the anchor’ but it isn’t that simple. I hope today brings fairer winds and some great exploring. I don’t think Yeltuor have opened their shop at Lady Baron yet.

    Like

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