Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fouled anchor in St. Martin I had planned on doing a night passage to the BVI and had set my alarm to wake me after midnight. Instead of getting underway immediately I spent a lot of time and effort trying to extricate myself from this old anchor chain. I finally rigged a line with a rolling hitch to the old chain and got it removed from my anchor.

[18°4'3.27"N 63°5'19.24"W ]
Fouled anchor in St. Martin
I set my iPod alarm for 2:30am and then woke up at 3am with no alarm having gone off - but I'm certain it will go off tomorrow and the days thereafter and no let itself be turned off. As I had prepared everything for a quick departure the night before, I just started off the engine and instruments and then went forward to life the anchor. That seemed to go slow and when my anchor finally broke surface I found out why, it had fouled on another anchor that had been left there; it couldn't have been another boat since I was the closest to the dock. The wind was blowing but, fortunately for me, the fouled anchor and chain held so I wasn't drifting into other boats. It weighed too much for me to just lift it (although I tried) and I finally got a length of para cord tied to the slack end, motored ahead and then lifted/slid it off my anchor. By the time this had finished it was after 4:00am but I set off anyway but decided to motor sail. The waves were higher, from a different direction and a bit more confused than WindGuru had forecast so after rounding the point and setting sail for my 292° magnetic compass course the boat rolled badly with the waves coming from the aft quarter and it made for an uncomfortable passage. The wind angle coupled with the rolling motion was just bad enough so that I couldn't' set the genoa so kept if very reefed and used the mainsail held out by a preventer. Still, at 1600RPM the boat was averaging 8knots for a time and I was finally giving the batteries their charge.
The AIS installation was a blast to use, it would show me ships of over 400 feet along with their course and speed information which I could barely make out on the horizon with binoculars. Since the information is coming in via the VHF antenna mounted on the mast the range really is about 30 miles! The AIS coupled with the radar system and GPS chart plotter made navigation child's play and let me do nothing on the passage.
The wind slackened somewhat during the day so I passed “Round Rock” in the BVI at 15:00 and anchored off Spanish Town at 15:45. It then took a while for me to get the dinghy in the water, mount the engine and all the other small parts. Then I took a quick shower and shave so that I would appear respectable to customs & immigration and went ashore. Alas, the immigration official told me that the cashier had left at 15:30 and I should come back the next morning. I asked permission to go ashore and he responded “Sure, as long as you don't get into trouble”. The anchorage outside of Spanish Town had strange winds and was rather uncomfortable from the swell and ferry traffic, so I motored up to the North Sound and took a mooring ball off Saba Rock, where I grabbed a quick Taco plate and a Carib and barely made it back to the boat before my eyes shut on me.
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