Saturday, 10 November 2012
Money on ground tackle...
We woke to the sound of the anchor alarm going off. Not, in this instance, a warning we had dragged but letting us know we'd stretched out and possibly veered from our original position. That was at 5am yesterday morning, Wed 7th, some 32 hours ago and the storm has raged since. The first 24 hours were fine but as the wind continued the seas followed suit and built up. The fetch inside was small but the entrance, barely visible, had white water everywhere. The sound of seas breaking on the northern side of the island, at times, drowned out the wind. By the late afternoon the wind had backed from NE to NNW which gave us a little more room astern but also created a confused sea tendency within the anchorage. The wind continued howling. The local radio informed us that the gusts on Martha's Vineyard, less than 10 miles away, had been clocked at 61mph and all local ferry traffic was suspended. The NOAA site informed us that some 30 miles to the west of us the weather/navigation buoy recorded 52 knots...whatever it was probably the longest period of foul weather we had at anchor since the week we sat in Newtown Creek, IOW as day after day the English Channel struggled under a Force 11. And we knew it was bad outside when the anchorage gradually saw more and more gulls "at anchor"; resting quietly until their lives might improve.
By the morning of Sat Nov 9th our life had improved beyond measure. For a start the wind had died down and the anchorage was flat calm. But the rain and gloom of the last few days had been replaced with a glorious sunshine. The natural harbour is part of a succession of islands that were, or may still be, owned by the Forbes family apparently. A couple of very large houses could be seen, sheep and a llama were the only real activity. A ferry runs between the harbour and Woods Hole, a fishing boat came in prior to the storm but other than that we had had the place to ourselves. With a single day of northerlies left we opted to visit Vineyard Haven on Martha's, catch up with friends and await the next batch of favourable winds due in 3 days. Getting the wonderful Rocna anchor up gave us a struggle; convincing me at one point that we must be foul on something. Bee, who handles all the fore deck work, disagreed saying it felt different to a foul..... We secured the chain to protect the windless and tried to motor it out with little impact. Bee wanted more power so that's what we did and although the bow dipped ( in respect to the might of the anchor perhaps) it did break free. Thick, gloopy mud clung to the chain as we laboriously hurled buckets of sea-water over it. Eventually we were able to see the anchor rising to the surface with a large amount of glutinous mud attached. We had, briefly, thought about setting two anchors in tandem as the anchorage was tight. However as we had anchored once already and then decided to shift position we knew the mud was good and simply added a second line to back up our existing rode using two rolling hitches to secure it to the chain.We bought this 33kg (73lb) Rocna back in 2006 and have never regretted it. At the time they were new to the market but its design and holding power means we are able to sleep easy at night. Anchors may not have the same sex appeal as all singing all dancing chart plotters and water makers but, to us, they are far more important. Everything back on board and stowed we motored clear, raised the main and stays'l and set off with a favourable current through the narrows at Woods Hole toward Vineyard Haven. The wind blew gently, the sun shone, sea sparkled and all was well in our world. Next stop, we hope, will be several hundred miles south of here.