December 12, 2008.
It’s funny how things can change in just a day. When I posted last we were waiting out a weather “event” and then heading down to and out Port Royal Sound.
We’re anchored in the Beaufort River with an intense tidal flow. The wind was from the south all day at about 15 knots. When evening came it built (as predicted) to 20 to 25 knots and began to veer out of the west. So then the boat was facing east into the ebbing tide and the wind was pretty much blowing up our skirt. It’s not really a problem for us but we were starting to sail around a bit on the anchor.
We were down below reading when we were hit with a couple of bigger gusts. I turned on the anemometer and went above to have a look around. We were absorbing sustained gusts of 35, 36 and 37 knots. We had dropped the hook all the way at the end of the anchorage in case a situation like this arose.
The bridge here is now back to its standard schedule and late in the day we got a new neighbor, a beautiful Island Packet named Wind Whisperer. They were they only boat in our proximity and of course, they became an issue.
Ten minutes after the wind started gusting into the thirties they started to drag. Their anchor recaught the bottom about 30 feet off our starboard beam. They were close enough that I could see the glow of their television as they sat below bathed in the warmth of “Idiots Bliss” completely unaware of the situation.
I repeatedly hailed them on the VHF but got no response. I can only assume that they must consider it appropriate to shut the thing off once they drop the anchor. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t have their radio on, especially in the deteriorating conditions. They hadn’t even glanced topside or they would have been doing something about the situation.
We were below and I was looking for something like a can of corn to throw at them while Christy was being more responsible and getting out our air horn when she looked out the port and said “Oh my God, they are going to hit us”. I rushed topside and exploded out of the enclosure just as the Island Packet’s bowsprit ripped through our lifelines. His second anchor hanging from the bow had bent one of our stanchions, destroyed the upper lifeline and gashed into our cockpit coaming. Thank God, I was able to grab his bowrail and keep the anchor from sweeping along our deck.
I had both feet against our cockpit while putting everything I had into wrestling with the bucking bowsprit. I could control it but couldn’t really do anything with it. If the bow had swept forward he would have gotten our shrouds and possibly dismasted us and if it had been able to swing along down the stern it would have probably destroy our radar arch. The radar arch holds our solar panels, wind generator, radar, dinghy, and several antennas.
Christy was blasting the air horn and I was screaming all the foul words that I knew and finally I felt the bow pulpit start to vibrate in my hands, they’d started their engine. They backed away into the night to give anchoring another shot.
They went right back to the same spot and dropped the hook and immediately came drifting willy nilly right at us again. They came so close to nailing us a second time that I had to run to our bow pulpit in an effort to fend them away as they went by. Now I’m freaking out because there was a real good chance that they could snag our anchor out of the bottom as they dragged theirs along as they went by our bow. Luckily for us, their anchor did not grab the bottom and it passed directly over our chain without snagging it.
They pulled their hook in and went back to the same spot to try again. Now we had our engine running so that we could dodge them, even though we were still anchored. This time they spun past our stern, clearing it by 10 feet. Through the use of a system of decibel enhanced verbal communication I made sure they were aware of my displeasure. I told them to turn on their God Damn radio and pointed out that due to the huge size of the anchorage available, they better try someplace a little further away. Like f*#king Minnesota.
By this time the winds were clocking 40 knots and 2 other boats had broken free. Fortunately the crews of these 2 boats had been paying attention like responsible mariners and reanchored without incident. After several tries the Island Packet was able to get their anchor to stick and I hailed them on the VHF. I asked if they were insured and the woman said “Why, do you have any damage?” I responded with “Your boat weighs over 12 tons and you just T boned us, of course we have damage, we were planning on leaving in the morning I’ll expect to see you before 0800, over” It was several hours before the anchorage was quiet again. I sat up in the cockpit until 0200 until the winds died off.
The next morning they came by and gave us their insurance info, so we’ll have to see how that goes. They seemed like decent enough people but one thing that struck me was that they never apologized. They said that they were sorry to have met us under these circumstances but nothing about the damages to our boat. It was almost like it was normal behavior. The guy did have the nerve to whine that his navigation light had been broken. If its not one thing……..Oh yeah, sometime during the excitement when I was running around on deck I kicked something and broke my pinky toe.