Friday, February 24, 2012

New Anchor

Now that hot water tank is fixed at last, Al’s attention is on the anchor. He had been agonizing about changing the anchor, not knowing how he would be able open the swivel shackle to pry it away, carry the new one to the boat, and install it. When I asked the chandlers personnel, they offered to do the installation, but we would have to go into the lagoon and go all the way to one of the chandlers which are side by side, at the far corner of the lagoon.

Yesterday, Monday, the 20th, Al had several conversations with the chandlers to ask if we could tie to their dock to have the anchor installed to the chain. To his dismay, Al learned the Island Water World did not have space to accommodate us, but they suggested other marinas nearby, where they could deliver the anchor. After much deliberation, somebody suggested the marinas at the French side of the lagoon, which are closer to the channel from the Marigot Bay. We jumped into the dinghy, explored the French boatyards on the way to the Port Royal Marina in the lagoon. While looking around, we saw a boatyard with a dock next to a boat launching pad. While I sat in the dinghy, Al went in and explained to an attendant that we wished to tie our 38 ft boat to his dock next morning, to do the work, and he said no problem, and showed us the dock to come. When I looked at the said place, I thought it was too short, since there was a perpendicular pier at one side, and a tied platform which was used as a dinghy dock at the other. But the attendant assured Al that it was possible, and he was going to be there in the morning to help. He also promised to fill our fresh water tanks. Al was happy that the short distance would be easily navigable in the morning.

On our way out on the channel to Marigot, we were passing by a small branch of Budget Marine chandler, which only carries a limited selection of small items. I urged Al to ask if they could be instrumental in getting the anchor, and he made the stop. It turned out to be very convenient for us, since the nice attendant offered to get the 20 kg/44 pounds Delta anchor to our boat while we would be at the dock. All offered to pay immediately, but they would rather wait until they got the merchandise from the main store. He was so cooperative, that Al thought he might get a commission out of the deal. I hope he did, because he solved our problem of making the dinghy ride for half an hour, and carrying the heavy thing all the way back.

On Tuesday, the 21st, we got ready at the base of the channel, jockeying our place among the few boats waiting to make the passage into the lagoon, as soon as the bridge was to open at 8:15 am. It did open at the said time, but out-going boats had the priority, so we waited ten more minutes. Some of the boats around us were running in circles, while we were trying to stay at the same place by going back and forth, since the wind was pushing from behind.

Anyway, the green light came for us, and the boats got in line. Passing through the base of the bridge was a little scary for me, since it felt like we were about to brush the sides. It was a good thing for me to see that a big cat in front of us passed through comfortably, so I just closed my eyes when we got there.
While coming close to the dock, we saw a big mono-hull maneuvering to tie stern-to at the next dock. By the time Al came around to get closer to the dock, the skipper of the other boat finished securing it and hopped into his dinghy to help us. Besides having such a little dock space to approach, there was a small buoy in the middle of the water in our way. Al was worried about buoy’s rope getting tangled in our propeller, and asked the skipper to attend the buoy. To my amazement he was able to just pick it up and pull it aside.

Al tried several times to back up into the small space, while I was looking with horror at some metal protrusion at the end of the pier, ready to cut our side open if we ventured too close, as well as some object sticking out of the platform at the back. Thankfully Al did not insist on forcing his way in, but headed towards the series of mooring buoys installed quite close together. We saw that all of the boats were tied from stern and bow. So I grabbed the front ball, and Al went to the aft one by dinghy, carrying our long line to pass it through.

Al had asked Sylvain to come and help, and he did, such a sweetheart of a man. The chandler guy brought the new anchor and handed it to Al from his dinghy right at the bow, and Sylvain put the shackle on; in five minutes everything done, Al itching to try it. But we had to wait until 2:30 pm for the bridge to open again to let us out.

We decided to take water from Fort Louis Marina afterwards, and headed towards their fuel dock, right after another catamaran. There was just enough room for two boats to dock face to face. A young man helped first the other boat, then us, by pulling the lines, while giving instructions how to drive to get closer. We got our water, then the attendant left, and Al went to the marina office to pay. He came back, and we started to untie our lines, when I heard the attendant yelling “don’t release the lines!” while rushing towards us on his bike. He had Al’s credit card. In the confusion to get the card, the aft of the boat almost touched the dock, so he jumped in to push it from inside, and jumped out to the dock like a monkey.

Immediately afterwards, we anchored somewhere close to the village docks.

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