January 9, 2020
My last update had us anchored near Iguana Island on Allan’s Cay, and I marvelled at the currents and winds there. Things got more interesting after that . . .
Around 10:30 at night the boat finally turned to point North, and settled down, just as we started bouncing off of the bottom. It turns out that we caught exactly the spot with about 6 feet of water . . . not the 11 feet on either side of us, but no big deal, low tide was set to arrive at 11:35 (approximately), and so we played cards waiting for the water to bottom out and could feel the bumps on either side of low tide (it bumps as the waves rise and fall as the tide goes out, then settles on the bottom so no bumping, then bumps with the waves as the tide comes back up). The things to worry about are, are you on rocks (if so, expect damage, we were in deep sand), and secondly, if the depth at low tide is significantly lower than the boat’s draught, then expect the boat to lean. Our draught is 5’10” and we thought we were in more than six feet of water at low tide. I was on alert for any tilting because then we would have had to close all hatches to be sure we didn’t get water inside if we tipped sideways.
In any case, we were asleep shortly after midnight with the anchor doing its job and all was well. Until 2:14 am when my anchor alarm woke me from a deep sleep. Given how close the boat behind me anchored (Troubadour), I jumped up to the pilothouse quickly. Yep, I was right on his bow!!
The wind was beginning to really pick up by now and apparently my anchor (and 50’+ of chain) didn’t find enough to grab onto, so I started the engine and moved forward quickly. I wasn’t about to set anchor again and ‘see how it went’, so I pulled up anchor and slowly edged my way out of the protected bay and into 20′ of water on the west side of the island. I dropped anchor again and we were rolled for the rest of the night in the rising winds. I didn’t sleep a wink.
Knowing that the winds and waves were going to get progressively worse, I pulled up anchor again at 6 am just as the morning light began to pierce the eastern sky and we started heading West toward Nassau.
The waves beat us up a bit, but overall it was a quick run to Palm Cay on the South side of New Providence Island. I keep confusing Nassau, the city (on the North side of the island) with the island itself which is New Providence Island.
Everyone I speak with tells me that I shouldn’t worry about the amount of water under the keel in this area, but I will continue to worry until I have been here a long time and have well worn paths. I do, envy those ships that only need three or four feet of water. We spoke with the owners of an Ocean Alexander 60 who only draw 4 1/2 feet of water, and they can go 12 knots+ too and of course the catamarans likely only need three feet of water.
The marina is a pretty tight space and we had to move the boat so that Jinhee could get on and off, then found out that they don’t have 50Amp electrical service. We will work from batteries and run the generator twice a day (it’s cheaper than electricity here anyway!).
The location is quite nice, the staff friendly and it is less hectic than being on the other side of the island where we stayed last time. The downside is the grocery store and marine services are not right outside of the gate.
Yesterday we met Roger and Patricia from Jupiter, FL. They used to own a Nordhavn 47 (They had 47-45, Home Free is 47-43), but have moved on to a Selene 58 which they were happy to show us around and invite us in for a drink. We enjoyed their company and I think Jinhee is now more aware of why I keep suggesting a longer boat. Sitting on the back deck of their ship while enjoying some wine and cheese was really the part of boating that Jinhee is most looking forward to. Here’s a picture of the boat heading out today. They are a bit braver than we are although they are simply dropping the hook a few miles away.
Jinhee seems to have picked up vertigo, or sea-sickness for the first time ever, so she has been looking to spend time off of the boat today. Unfortunately there isn’t much to do, so has opted to ride out the storm and vertigo from the comfort of yet another of our toys.
The winds are howling today and I am amused by all the charter folks (so many French Canadians!) who are anxious to leave here and head to the Exumas or wherever. The waves outside the harbour are building and the ride will be rough. For many of these folks they have a schedule, so it may be in their best interests to cross; perhaps I am getting old now, but I am quite happy to be tied to a dock and waiting it out.
A few days ago we saw a sailboat at Highborne Cay, and yesterday that boat arrived here. A Beneteau 383 with a lot of inexperienced people aboard was pinned on the wall for a long time trying to get docked. I spent an hour helping them and we finally just pulled them off the wall with long lines, but it was testament to two key elements. First the boat is not equipped with functioning equipment. I asked to use their pole to push them away from the dock and it was a very, very long pole (about 15 feet), but it wouldn’t lock and stay extended, so it really was a 5′ pole. Really, quite useless for anything you might want to do on a 40′ sailboat. Secondly the crew had no clue how to assist and the captain was flustered by the misadventure, even when the boat was safely pushed up against the wall and there was no danger. Perhaps the best decision was the one the captain took . . . to come and tie up at a dock.
Finally, to head back to the anchoring discussion, I have been discussing a new anchor with Jinhee for some time. Home Free has a 47kg anchor, but I have not been comfortable at all times when anchored and dragging in any conditions is not a confidence builder. When I was anchored during the Bora outside of Split in 50 knot winds I loved my anchor, but losing grip in ten feet of water and 17 knot winds at Allan’s Cay is not acceptable. It seems my anchor is least useful when I have other boats nearby . . . not sure if I change my behaviour at these times and I just don’t recognize what I am doing?
I think I will be shopping for a new anchor. It looks like the ‘Ultimate Anchor’ is the one to go for and I am thinking about 60Kg or even more if it makes sense. These are pricey, but a good night’s sleep and a boat that doesn’t move in any weather are worth a mint.