Saturday, January 2, 2010

The wind had completely died down during the night and I woke up to find all of the boats pointing against the wind - the tide had turned and the current had become stronger than the wind. In another hour or so the current will once again shift and all will be back to normal. I let out a lot of chain and was still in 6 feet of water but pointed right at Prickly Pear island in the morning. After breakfast (I love my Nespresso machine) the wind picked up a bit and the stern was now being pushed towards Prickly Pear so I cleaned up below decks and weighed anchor; using just the mainsail and engine I put up my inverted cone and headed out of the Sound, not having a destination in mind but wanting to get underway. As I entered the channel my AIS started beeping like crazy and, looking back, I saw that no less than 4 behemoths, one of them a gorgeous ketch, had opted to leave at the same time as I. I gave Zanshin a bit of gas and cleared the channel as quickly as possible and as I had stuck to the right and upwind side I turned a bit right after the channel and found myself pointing right at Anegada, so I made that my destination and settled down for a long sail in 6 knots of following wind. Despite using a preventer on the main and only a bit of genoa the boat rolled and wallowed a lot so I once again cheated and motor sailed.
I've been into the Anegada channel several times with Solitaire, which didn't have as deep a draft as Zanshin I and was therefore a bit apprehensive about entering. I had noticed that the tide was high when leaving the North Sound (and it was probably a spring tide due to the full moon the day before) but still had seen depths of “0” under the keel on Solitaire's depth sounder in channel, but to all accounts the channel should be 8 feet or more everywhere. With all the electronic gadgetry aboard I used the Raymarine chart plotter, which had 3 red and green buoys and a well marked suggested route through the channel. While motoring to first pair of entry buoys which I couldn't see I saw the second set, oddly enough I went right past them and they were well away from anything on my chart plotter. The depth sounder showed different depths to what the GPS and plotter told me and I didn't feel comfortable with the angle that I was approaching the island at. I turned around 180° and idled on autopilot while I went below to consult the paper chart. On that chart there were only 2 red and green buoys (one of the greens has since decided to relocate and is no longer on Anegada) and I covered over the chart plotter and returned to the buoys I could see and used the suggested 084° bearing to enter the channel. According to the GPS the real entrance was right at the infamous coral heads called the Twin Sisters. I idled along the channel, as my depth sounder read a constant 2 feet, sometime going as low as 0.5 feet but never more than 3 feet; I figured if I hit ground at 1-2 knots I could easily back Zanshin I off the sand. After clearing the second green I turned out towards the reef and anchored in 8 feet of water, my depth sounder reading 1.5 feet. When I dived on the anchor I checked the depth and found that my sound was off by a bit and that I had 3 feet under the keel - I've since re-calibrated the sounder to give me a true reading.
Dinner at Potter's was very tasty, but the restaurant was jam-packed to the last seat and they had trouble keeping up with demand at the grills. It was certainly more entertaining to watch the crowd at a full restaurant than when I am the only guest. The neighbouring table was a large group of Parisians and it was interesting to hear how they complained amongst themselves that the food was as well prepared as at home and then to see that the only thing left on the table after they'd finished their repast were the cleaned-out lobster carapaces.

GPS position incorrect While electronic maps and GPS systems are generally quite accurate, if I had used my GPS to enter the Anegada channel and anchorage I would have hit the inner reef. I'm actually anchored in sand and a good 100 feet from the beginning of the coral reef, not in the middle of it as the plotter would indicate.
This error is not caused by GPS being inaccurate, but by using an old chart where the coordinates are not correct. So far the only place I've found where one can't use GPS is Anegada, the rest of the Caribbean places I've been to match up GPS and chart coordinates exactly.
GPS position incorrect
Potters by the Sea There are two main restaurants and bars in the main Anegada anchorage, each with it's own pier. They are "The Anegada Reef Hotel" and "Potter's by the Sea" and both specialize in Anegada Lobster.
[18°43'22.87"N 64°22'57.15"W (facing E)]
Potters by the Sea
Anegada sunset For those who know the BVI, I wouldn't have to put the location in the title. In all other anchorages the view of the sunset will have some land to be seen in it, only on Anegada is view unobstructed.
Anegada sunset

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