1.27.2010

No Tow Boat US When U Find You Find Yourself Sideways In The Bahamas!

1/25/2010
To say that the past 24 hours has been attention-grabbing and challenging would definitely be an understatement! The voyage began early in the morning on the 25th from Great Harbor @ Stirrup Cay. It had been a bumpy anchorage with little protection from the winds and waves. So we made the assessment to pull anchor and start our journey south to Little Harbor in the Berry Islands. Our thought process was that Little Harbor had better protection from the elements and it may be a little warmer. Not sure how well thought out that decision became about an hour into this adventure. Of course the winds were not behaving as forecast, the winds were rocketing @ 25-30 knots off the nose!! Which means we were taking a beating! We tried changing tacks but no matter what we tried it was taking us too close to land or to far out in the Atlantic. We had wave rollers 6-7 feet coming over the sides of Mary Rose which made it look like the dams had broken! We found ourselves soaking wet and exhausted. What should have been a 4 hour passage turned into a 6 hour passage. The final 5 (felt like 20) nautical miles we started tacking back and forth to obtain a better angle to the humongous waves. When we finally saw the opening to Little Harbor it was like a lost puppy finally finding it’s way home, we were excited that rest was just around the corner! We found ourselves relieved and ready for a quiet moment and some warm soup. I took my place on the bow keeping a look out for coral heads and low water. My competent Master of a Captain at the helm guiding us through the crystal blue waters. All of a sudden Mary unexpectly put her brakes on and I hear the Captain spit out some incomprehensible words that I’m sure do not need to be repeated. “We are stuck on a sandbar” he yells. The winds coming from behind us at 20-25 pushing us farther up into the forbidder zone. So there we were… cold, tired, exhausted and grounded… and not slightly grounded we are talking full blown, keel to the center of the earth grounded!! The strange thing is I have been studying how to read the colors of water to guesstimate depth and the color would have indicated 7-9 feet. The Captain with eyes tightly glued to the map on the Garmin saw we should be 5.9 range. What the…..??!! Not that any of that made any difference at this point. We were stuck, rocking ridges to port and starboard. Captain jumps into his take charge mode…blurting out directions as he is wrestling with the dinghy trying to get it untied and thrown over board. As the Admiral calls out on the VHF radio for any assistance to only find Bahamian silence. No Tow Boat US in the Bahamas we can vouch to that! We desperately tried to free the hold on Mary to no avail. Bill and Barbara who were a Cat anchored up the canal a little way heard our cry for help and came to lend a helping hand. For hours we fought the current and winds. Capt Don and Bill running to and fro in the dinghy. Both of them evaluating the state of affairs. We tried to kedge our Mary out to the sinking sand. Roughly 9pm we decided to call it a night and wait patiently until high tide which was noted to came back in at approximately 0400. As we retired into the cabin, cold and fatigued we could feel Mary continue to lean to the starboard side. We had anchors out to keep her from declining to the port side since that was the direction the wind and tide would be coming from. By midnight Mary was completely lying on her starboard side and we sleeping, well should I say trying to rest, in a more or less vertical position! It was similar to being in one of those Funhouses that I would visit as a kid at the carnival. We could hear things sliding in the cabinets, shoes descending across the hull..it was incredible! Capt Don and I found ourselves laughing.. what else could we do!? We had no control over the situation and came to the conclusion that there had to be a rational for finding ourselves in such a predicament! So after we concluded our laugh we adjourned to the cabintop where we sat on the side to watch the massive orange moon melt into the horizon. There we began to look within ourselves to find the message hidden in this adventure. By 330am we had kedged Mary back into the deep water. Mary Rose began to dance in the water as we began dancing around our once again erect cabintop! We must divulge that there were no pictures taken, mainly because we did not want a memory of how Mary looked lying on the sand bar like a beached whale. The pictures posted were taken after she was back in the deep water to give everyone a view of the area of this adventure. All is well and we both learned a few things about each other as well as about ourselves!

3 comments:

Shane Montgomery said...

In the past, when boats have been run aground on soft bottom, it was possible to place weight (people or gear) at the edge of the boom to heel the yacht to port/starboard. This usually gives us an additional 6" of clearance to motor out in the same direction one comes into the grounding. Your yacht may not respond to weight on the boom due to her overall weight. However, it still works in lighter yachts. Also, it can also work to make things worse depending on bottom conditions. Glad destiny grounded you while yet still at sea, plenty of roses to smell along the journey's path.

Mike DeGeorge said...

I am truly proud of both the Admiral and Captain in handling this situation.....it was an opportunity for learning....as I said before, the Admiral, Captain and Mary were all very well prepared for this experience...this is proof...be proud of yourself....you are better sailors because of it...and I just missed the opportunity :-)

Zack said...

Wow, your first real adversity at sea! I’m sure you are going to learn from this and carry on! Let’s hope this proves to be a very infrequent occurrence, getting into peril that is! You should have taken pictures though; they keep you humble and give us viewers something to raze the Skipper with!