Westsail 32 Mary Rose in Central Bahamas

Westsail 32 Mary Rose in Central Bahamas

My learning curve has increased to the point that it would most likely resemble a malaria germ if you could see it. Much of the water we are navigating is very skinny…(read shallow)! It is actually possible to sail with a boat speed greater than your depth. You can read a previous post regarding grounding at Little Harbour Cay written by Admiral Nelson. We ran aground at high tide on a falling tide so we had few options to mitigate the situation. These are the actions we took that allowed us to get Mary Rose afloat again and continue on our way.
We alerted other boats in the area of our situation and invited anyone to offer assistance.
We unloaded the dinghy off the bow and put the engine and fuel tank on it so we could set anchors up stream of the falling tide.
We then loaded the anchors, one at a time on the dinghy, and drove them out to deeper water and set them in place. One on the stern and one on the bow. We put anchor buoys on the anchors so we could find them in the event that we had to detach anchor lines in the process.
We then attempted to winch her off the sand bar with the bow windless and a main wench in the cockpit.
Unable to budge her so we checked tides and discovered that the next high tide would be about six inches higher than the one we ran aground on. This was good news.
We kept the anchor lines taught so Mary would not slip any further into the shallower water.
Mary gently lay over on her port side and then slowly began to right herself on the rising tide.
I began to wench as soon as there was any sign of buoyancy. I did not want to loose any advantage or wait until the scheduled high tide.
The windless and the wench were enough to kedge Mary into deeper water at around 2:30 AM.
I added more line to the stern anchor as the bow swung around with the force of the bow anchor windless.
We left both anchors attached and set and went back to bed after a good hot breakfast.
The next morning we retrieved the anchor that had been attached to the stern and put all the ground tackle back together like it belonged.
We are fine…….Mary is fine…….and we have learned new skills that we had only previously read about. We also learned that we MUST pay closer attention to tide tables and adjust our plans accordingly.

We have learned to read the water depth by the color and also not to rely on charted depths as being accurate.

We never assume that any boat at anchor in the harbor will have an anchor light on.
We nearly hit a large boat on a night land fall that was at anchor and did not display an anchor light.
We have learned that the anchor drag alarm only goes off at night. Still can’t figure this one out. I leap out of the bunk and go top side to get a visual on the situation and then check the GPS for position. We have never actually had an anchor drag…….it has always been the boat swinging at anchor due to wind direction change or tidal current change.

What else have I learned???????

No matter how well you prepare there is always a challenge that will present itself. Like what you ask???? Well why do I seem to, all of the sudden, have an electrolysis problem? I had anodes that lasted almost two years and now they are burning through in about two months. I need to get answers as to how to track this problem down. Please email me if you have any suggestions or techniques to track down the source of this problem.

It seems as though we have a top seam leak in one of our water tanks. We loose water when we are in heavy seas and the water in the tank gets bounced around. We will replace the water tanks next summer before we leave again in the fall.

Weather, weather, weather!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t tell you how important it is to understand weather and also have a reliable resource for regular weather updates. Without accurate weather reports you end up in an anchorage without proper protection and it gets very very rough. We will add a single sideband receiver to the mix for the next trip so we can get better weather reports. This trip has been one successive cold front after another. With each cold front there comes a big blow and massive wind shifts. The good news is that the further south we get the more settled the weather will get and the easterly trade winds will be a bit more predictable. In fact a front just came through as I am writing this and the winds went from calm to over 25 mph with a temperature drop and rain.

Plan, plan, plan and then plan again and then have a contingency plan! You simply can not rely on your GPS, chart plotter and electronic navigation equipment as your sole source of navigation information. You MUST use charts and guide books and local knowledge if you can get it. You must involve everyone on the boat as everyone is responsible and you must have their input. Remember this……A good navigator is never certain of his certainty but is always certain of his uncertainty. I think this is a line in one of Jimmy Buffets books. I can tell you for certain that you must study the charts and write out your plan.

Here are the items that are on our daily travel plan sheet.

1. Tides…..local time for each high and low as well as the variance to mean low water.
2. Weather forecast for the area obtained at 0730 from a local broadcast.
3. Any radio frequencies or channels that will be needed for communication. Today’s example is the Exuma Park monitors channel 09.
4. Destination is written down along with the chart book where it is found as well as the page number.
5. Two alternate destinations are listed. What happens if the weather changes and the anchorage at your intended destination does not give you protection for the proper direction? What happens of you have a problem and you are unable to get to your intended destination? Both of these situations have happened to us and we were glad we had an alternate already selected. This is much better than trying to figure out a new plan in the face of howling winds and heavy seas.
6. Any special notes for the intended route. These might include approach notes you learned from one of the cruising guides or perhaps where to find the Free RO water or to buy bread or do your laundry. Maybe it is a “to do” list upon arrival. (update the blog, call family, supplies needed) Just note the important stuff.

We are in a safe well protected anchorage tonight. We are securely attached to a permanent mooring at the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park on Warderick Well Cay.
N24° 23.884 W076° 37.968 We were lucky to get one as they are booked solid. We will stay here until we get another good weather window to travel. This is the most beautiful tropical anchorage that I have ever seen to date. I highly recommend this as a place to visit if you are ever in this area. We are not able to download photos over the park system but we will add some at a later date. Our next stop is most likely Black Point Cay. They have FREE RO water, cellular phone service and Wifi. Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to leave us your comments. Captain Don


Shane Montgomery said...

Went to Round the World presentation by a family at Strictly Sail Chicago. They spent 8 years sailing around the world with two children. Top cruising recommendations:
a. Quell Shampoo (lots of it)
b. Make your own bread from eggs, flour, yeast.
c. Don't drink local water.
d. When another boat sends you two six packs of beer to cool because you have refrigeration, only send back one.

Mike DeGeorge said...

If you ever second guess what you are doing on this adventure (even with all of the challenges aka learning), think about the 1000 emails (not kidding) I have from work since 1 week of returning from Freeport. Needless to say, I am ready to come back sailing or sand surfing Mary Rose or whatever sport you want to try next in a sail boat :-)