Friday, June 10, 2011

Trials and Tribulations

Last night the rains came down hard in downpours a few times and continued intermittently all night. This morning it was down to a few drizzles that continued until 9:00 am. Then they suddenly stopped, just in time for Ayse and I to get over to Village Key where a taxi was waiting to take us to the airport at Beef Island. Ayse took off to St. Martin, to connect to her flight to Paris and then on to Stuttgart.

I spent a few more hours at Road Town that early afternoon. When I returned to the boat I realized that it was going to be single-handed sailing for a while.

Later that day I had my first experience in stresses of single handling. Luckily the sailing guides and books I had read helped me relieve some of the stress by practising what I had read, especially in a book by Bruce Van Sant called The Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South. (He subtitled his guide “The Thornless Path to Windward”). That afternoon, having anchored right behind the large green buoy outside Road Harbour to avoid bugs and marina heat, I noticed the wind from South-Southeast starting to pick up and reach 15-20 knots by 1600h. Being out in the open, and not too far from and backing on to the rocky breakwater on the outside, I thought it would be prudent to move before dark into Port Purcell, just around the breakwater where BVI Yacht Charters marina had a berth for me. Weighing anchor single handed with 20knots wind and sea swells that had started already was a real challenge. The windlass and its control are up in front of the saloon, and I have no remote at the helm. I started both engines and let them warm a bit. I went to the bow, got the anchor chain slack off, but the bridle lines are hooked at about 15ft along the chain deep in the water. I ran back to helm, drove the boat forward on to the chain a little bit, ran forward to take the slack off, up to the bridle hook, undid the hook and ran back to helm to wait a little bit in order to let the boat settle on the wind and current, watching all the time if we are moving back at all. There were two other sailboats anchored and with the strong wind and current I had to make sure I was always at a safe distance to both as well as to the breakwater close by. So, I ran back and forth about 4-5 times, moving the boat forward, taking the slack by pulling about 8-10ft of chain each time, then waiting for the boat to settle again. Finally the hook was off the bottom, and I was full throttle onward to sea between the two anchored vessels, sailing close to the green buoy, and accepting the farewell waves of the two gentlemen on one of the anchored boats. The whole ordeal took 20 minutes or so. Bruce Van Sant suggests you take coffee in between the runs to the bow, but unfortunately I had none prepared. The moral of the story for me was twofold; be patient and take things slow when anchoring, and, a remote windlass control at helm is a must if I am single handing often.

With more excitement to report the next time, this is all for now, at least for a few days. I have some repairs and upgrades to do on the boat.

No comments:

Post a Comment