It’s Thursday morning and it’s the “morning after” from yesterday’s front. Actually, it’s been pretty windy for several days with what Chris Parker, the weather router, calls “pre-frontal” winds.
However, as the “actual” front approached mid-day yesterday, we were anchored off of town, across the harbor, a location that was fairly protected when the pre-frontal winds were blowing from the south. As the front approached, the wind shifted, within just a few hours, from the south to the southwest, west, northwest and finally north. All this happened in pretty short order accompanied by winds that gusted into the 30kt range accompanied by squalls. It wasn’t particularly fun, actually.
As you can imagine, things got a bit bumpy and finally, (sort of) between squalls we decided to move over to the other side of the harbor to find a more sheltered spot.
Pulling up the anchor, in a chop that was pushing 4 feet, was a bit challenging but we got it done with a minimum of problems. However, once we headed over to the other side of the harbor, anchoring in so much wind proved to be tough.
As you may recall, some time back I damaged my Bruce anchor and had switched to a large Fortress anchor that I have had aboard for use in storm conditions. I hadn’t really used it much but it took the place of my damaged Bruce.
I have to say that, after several weeks of use, I am not all that impressed with it as a primary anchor. When it sets, it sets hard and fast but so often I found that in weedy conditions it tended to skip along the bottom gathering up loads of weed and not really setting. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as trying to anchor in strong winds when the anchor won’t hold. In the interest of fairness, I have also had the same problem with my Bruce in the past.
In the “anchor doesn’t set” department, yesterday was one of those days. We did quite a tour of the harbor, trying to drop the hook a total of five times and in several locations, until we finally found a good spot. The problem is that much of Georgetown harbor is moderately weedy and in strong winds anchors tend to load up with weed before they can set properly. This isn’t as much of a problem when the winds are lighter as the anchor can dig through the weeds and into sand when there is less pressure on the anchor. That was not the case yesterday. Not at all.
The Fortress is billed as a sort of “last resort” anchor and many boats carry one on board for storm conditions. With the exception of powerboats that rarely anchor anyway, you almost never see one used on a sailboat as a primary anchor. After a month of use, I can now see that the anchor has some limitations. The problem is that it’s hinged and when it’s deployed in very fine sand or mud, the hinge sometimes gets gummed up and won’t move properly. What this means is that it gets stuck, with the flukes in the “up” position, and just skips along the bottom not hooking at all. When I pulled up the anchor yesterday, I was shocked to see that one of the flukes and the shaft were slightly bent. Amazing for such a “tough” anchor. I have been told that there is a lifetime warrantee on Fortress anchors. I’ll have to test that when I get home in May.
In order to find a replacement for my Bruce, I made an announcement on the radio net here in Georgetown and there’s a guy with a spare CQR anchor that will fit Pandora nicely. The CQR is an old style design, but pretty good anchor and works well in most conditions. I plan on visiting that boat today or tomorrow to see if we can work something out.
Anyway, yesterday was pretty rough as the front came through, and I hope that we won’t have conditions like that again anytime soon. Some folks I was talking to this morning said that yesterday’s frontal passage was the roughest they have ever seen in years of Bahamas cruising.
However, today is a new day and what a beautiful one it is. The wind is still a bit brisk but the sun is out and shining brightly. And, we are now in a protected location off of a beautiful beach.
Interestingly, when we finally anchored yesterday (Did I mention that we had some difficulty anchoring?) I noticed that our friends on Cat’s Meow were anchored nearby. We met them last winter in the Bahamas and really enjoyed their company. Cat’s Meow is a HUGE catamaran, 80’ long. La Vonne and Don live aboard and travel up and down the east coast.
We’d love to have them visit us in Essex but their mast is 102’ tall and they can’t fit under the I-95 CT highway bridge which is (only) about 90’ tall. That’s a very tall mast. Their boat is so wide, at 45’, that there are only three boatyards on the entire east coast that can haul them out of the water. I’ll bet it’s tough to shop for the best price when choice is that limited. Perhaps folks with 80’ boats aren’t that price sensitive.
There is an interesting story behind Cat’s Meow as they purchased the boat at auction from the DEA who had seized the boat from a drug dealer a while back. I wonder if the Coast Guard has them on a “watch list”.
What a boat. HUGE, doesn’t begin to describe it. For a stove they have a 6 burner Wolf oven, the type you might find in a commercial kitchen. It’s quite a stove. And, they have a “butler’s pantry” off of their cabin. Alas, no butler aboard. “Get your own ice.” Speaking of the Coast Guard, back in February, a sailboat from Canada had gone up on a reef off of Cuba and was in danger. Some local fishing boats helped get them off and the boat was repaired. As the hull was steel, the damage was minimal. However, in the process of trying to get help, they had contacted the US Coast Guard who, as you can imagine, declined to help them as they were in Cuban waters.
So, fast forward a few months, to when they tried to clear customs in Florida and they ran into real difficulty as they had been put on a “list” as someone who had “traded with the enemy” in Cuba. As a result, their boat was denied entry into the US and were told that they could continue up the coast to their home port in Canada but that they could no longer leave the boat in the US for the summer, as they have done for the last few years.
I know that Americans are not allowed to visit Cuba but thought that it was OK for citizens from countries that do not have a trade embargo with them to visit and then come to the US. It seems that as they had decided to visit the US directly from Cuba, they were somehow in violation of American law. Oops…
I don’t know much about the finer points of the law but it seems that they are in a bit of a fix as to get just about anywhere south from Canada requires being able to stop in US waters. Perhaps if they had cleared into the Bahamas instead of going to the US directly from Cuba they might have been better off. Who knows. Not a good situation to be in at all. It would be interesting to hear more.
Brenda and I would love to visit Cuba but have no interest in running afoul of Customs in the US. Perhaps in time, we’ll have an opportunity. (That’s to visit Cuba, not to run afoul of US customs, just to be clear.)
Now for a particularly jarring change of topic…. There’s a very “interesting” boat anchored nearby. Jumbo, and it’s anything but… If form follows function, I wonder what the function of Jumbo is. So, if Cat’s Meow is huge than Jumbo isn’t. Perhaps they should trade names. Jumbo looks more like a Tylenol capsule than a boat. I hope Jumbo‘s owners don’t see this post as I wouldn’t want them to be offended. Jumbo is quite cute, actually. I wonder where their home port is. Probably not France, although it would be quite at home on a canal there but perhaps less at home on the open ocean getting there.I have to say that yesterday was the nastiest day we’ve had in our two winters in the Bahamas. However, today, the morning after, is a new day and what a beautiful day it is. Here’s a shot of Pandora off of Monument Beach. It’s named after the “monument” on top of the hill which shows just to the right of Pandora. Perhaps we’ll take a walk up there later today.I’ll close with a picture we took last winter when our son’s Rob and Chris, along with Rob’s girlfriend Kandice, visited the monument with us. Now that was a great day.