February 21, 2013 by Last Star blog
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The Waiting is the hardest part…. I hope
OK, for two days now we’ve been held hostage by “Chris Parker”. Who is Chris Parker? He is a weather Guru who pipes weather down here at sailor’s request via Single Side-Band Radio; or SSB. SSB is similar to what Ham operators use, don’t know how it works, I think it is PFM and oh, by the way, it doesn’t always work. Something to do with solar flares, coreolis effect, chinch bugs and magnesium.
Any how about 4 days ago word spread like wildfire that “a storms a comin'” and everyone started getting into hidey holes and looking for moorings and slips to get into. Now I try not to fall into the “collectivism thinking” of this herd of people and I also know that a forecast 4 days out is maybe not what you want to build your plans around so I figured we’d wait a bit. More importantly we had a dinner reservation at Fowl Cay Resort for Valentine’s Day and I did not want to disappoint my betrothed (AKA the Admiral). Fowl Cay was awesome, great staff headed up by Grant and Nikki who ensured our evening was a treat.
Now the next day, Friday, we got serious about listening to the weather and finding a place for Last Star during the blow. I had 4 potential anchorages picked out and by then they were full, the moorings were taken or the water was too thin and I couldn’t get in there. So I had to fall back to the DECCA station from a bye gone era. I think DECCA is an early form of navigation but as I can’t seem to get internet very well here you’ll have to “google it” and find out if interested. The issue here at the DECCA is that they are exposed to a westerly swell from about 290-330 degrees.
There is a large bulkhead to tie to when the wind comes anywhere from North, through East and then South, so once we get the wind clocked through West we’ll be good. Oh, but what will happen in the interim….we wait.
Yesterday we started with the boat held off the bulkhead by the two anchors set to the port side. The smaller “Bruce” was lugged to a bollard behind us and hoisted up there by me and then chained off and run back to the boat. We had lines running to the bulkhead to hold us in place once the wind went NNE.
After staring at this configuration we surmised that the end result would be fine but the period of the westerly blow being broadside to the wind AND waves could be disastrous and uncomfortable for the Admiral. In addition we dinghied the 45 pound CQR anchor and its chain and then had to “set it” using the windlass and muscle power–possible suspect holding as this is not how we normally set the anchor. Patricia suggested we swap the boat 90 degrees into the westerly wind and waves (why she’s the Admiral) and then could back down on the anchor with the motor setting it properly–hopefully not backing into the concrete bulkhead. Naturally this brain-storm occurred about 45 minutes before sunset. As the forecast was not that precise, nor was our latest forecast particularly recent, we were unsure what the morning would bring so we had to get moving.
We left many of the lines in place on shore, we just had to pick up the CQR and reset it in a better location. It was approaching low tide so now we had shallow water to contend with too. Patricia did a good job of getting the boat over the right “spot” but the hard part was getting the boat to go backwards in the proper direction to set the anchor with what we suspected would be the prevailing wind. Normally when you drop anchor you steer into the wind, drop it, and the wind pushes you backward and then when you’re ready, you add power in reverse and it sets the anchor. But boats have something called “prop walk” in reverse and getting it to go straight is near impossible in the first few boat lengths. Normally people are using the pilings and lines to back out of their slip at a marina; it masks the prop walk. As there was little to no wind (thankfully) the boat was just drifting around the anchor in a limited space, so I hopped in the dinghy and took a line from the stern of the boat and tried to get the beast backed in the proper direction by towing it. This was much more difficult than it sounds. The dinghy motor steers like a tiller, in addition it has a throttle and gear shift built into the handle that selects forward or reverse. All this is fine in my normal day-to-day driving but trying to hold a line, having the dinghy jerked around by the mass of the Last Star and hopping from side to side and going from forward to reverse was a nightmare. As there was little wind and I was at the rear of the boat I created a nice cloud of 2-cycle fuel gas fumes to spin in and this little treat was occasionally punctuated by the diesel fumes coming from Last Star’s exhaust. Little did I know I was the lucky one, you see Patricia was on deck dueling with swarms of mosquitoes and no-see-ums. Remember–no wind, bugs love no wind. We finally got the boat in the proper alignment, Patricia added loads of reverse and scope to the anchor all while not backing into the bulkhead and set the anchor. At this point we quickly gathered the lines that were set from before and tied up Last Star for the evening. Fine tuning would come tomorrow as the bugs were having a feast and this little brain storm prior to sunset burned up nearly 2 hours!
Here are some photos of the boat taken the next day. We’re now ready for the oncoming waves from the west. We are tied on three points to fixed cleats or the bollard and the anchor was set properly by the boat’s motor. This will be cake.