Hanging by a thread…


August 6, 2013 by Last Star blog

So yesterday we sneak up the Cape Fear river and look for a little spot from last fall to spend the night.  The water was deep enough, had a bit of protection and would be 2 minutes from our route for the next day–sounds easy enough.

We blew past Southport which later we would find out has a terrific restaurant called “Provisions” but that’s for another day.  We got to our anchorage but with the wind howling out of the south by now (+20 knots) and the current running north as well we had to tuck in behind this little bit of island for some protection from the chop.  This was no big deal, about what you get on an average day in the Bahamas.  We rooted around until we found about 12-14 feet of water as the tide was still rising and when it went out we wanted 10 feet under the boat.

The anchor set in about a second between the wind and current with both in the same direction. As the current was strong and would shift the other way later I elected to put out more scope than usual so it would be sure to set easily in the other direction.

We had a noisy evening as the birds were all over the island we tucked behind and raised a continuous cacophony that did NOT stop after sunset?!  It didn’t keep us from sleeping as the howl of the wind was so strong that it served well to drown out the noise of the birds.

Angry Birds

Angry Birds

We went to bed as usual with a final check from me outside ensuring that all was well with the ground tackle.  We had a max-gust of 31 knots on the wind-meter and mostly 20’s as we tried to go to sleep.  Patricia told me that it always seemed strange to go to bed in these conditions when we were just “hanging on by a thread” for safety.  Now I took umbrage at this statement as I have great ground tackle; 45 lb CQR, approx 65 feet of 3/8 BBB chain, and then solid 3 strand nylon rode–this ain’t no thread.  “whatch you talkin’ ’bout woman?”  Patricia indicated that she understood it wasn’t a thread and it was just an analogy describing how odd it is to go to sleep in a boat on a noisy windy river and just treat it like any other home or house.  Where some folks are securely attached to a foundation, we have a piece of steel, some chain and rope keeping us grounded.  I made understanding noise like “hmmmm” and “um-hummm” and continued to read Michael Pollan’s Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation–highly recommended (same author as The Omnivore’s Dilemma).

Well the wind had us going around in circles as it fought the outgoing tide and the lights outside kept changing but otherwise we spent an uneventful night and the wind finally calmed down.  The next morning we woke up to sunshine, calm conditions and those damn seagulls.  After breakfast we got going as we wanted to take advantage of the slack tide when we would negotiate the skinny slip we rented in Carolina Beach–less current would be good in this situation.

As Patricia was firing up the engine I began the process of removing the chafe guard from the anchor line and getting the anchor raised.  At this time the tide was outgoing and the light wind was pushing us in the opposite direction, sometimes this is good as you sort of hang over your ground tackle and raise it right up.  I was bringing it up in handfuls and making good progress when…….

“Hey sweetie, come up here and see this a minute….”  Now I am lucky to be married to such a lovely and understanding wife but clearly her talents go beyond what I’ve seen so far.  Maybe I should call her Patricia the prophesier, maybe prognosticator is easier to spell?  How about demonic doomsayer!??

Yikes!!  what am I seeing?

Yikes!! what am I seeing?

Above are the twenty toes of two people who slept blissfully through the night while the gnarly mess above was manifesting itself below the water.  What you can’t see from this photo is the brown mess on the deck where upon gazing at this we promptly both shit-ourselves!!  Holy Cow!!! THAT is not (pun intended) good!!!  We don’t know what caused this near mishap.  Untwisting that line is very difficult, something must have been grabbing or rubbing it clearly. There is some bottom paint on the rope but much of the rope has bottom paint as I use an ablative and it marks the rope upon contact.

With the winds we had the rope was tight and even the chain at times was not on the bottom.  We must have snagged something on the bottom while spinning is all I can surmise.  Here’s a close up.

Hanging by a thread?  Curse her!

Hanging by a thread? Curse her!

Now go back to the top picture and note how the line is run through the windlass–only on the right hand side going clockwise.  Normally the line goes all the way around the windlass held in the “teeth” and then down into the anchor locker.  These teeth hold the rope or the chain very tightly.  But the design requires that you go all the way around.  Well that wouldn’t make for a good picture would it?  About 5 seconds after the picture was taken the line pops out; goes shooting over the front back through the guide and that gnarly mess is back in the water “holding” the boat before I can say Bob’s your uncle!!  Well better lucky than good I like to say–maybe I should have called the boat that?  If the line had snapped the anchor is about $500, the chain is $4/foot so another $250 and then $75 for the rode…..I love boating, no way to get it back in that brown mess.

two wraps around windlass, then to a cleat is normal tie up

two wraps around windlass, then to a cleat is normal tie up

Oh and the anchor light at the top of the mast went out in Murrell’s inlet.  Don’t tell the doomsayer, she does’t know yet she’s making another trip up the “stick”!!  Impeller, anchor line, anchor lite, bilge pump….hope our luck turns soon.

Oh Kandid Kitty shots

Sleeping under the nav station, note the hind legs!  He's so wierd

Sleeping under the nav station, note the hind legs! He’s so wierd


2 thoughts on “Hanging by a thread…

  1. Grunt says:

    Hank, I noticed in the photo that YOU have painted your toenails blue, (must be yours).
    I always thought you were that kind of guy.

    • Grunt, you are very observant and clearly have too much time on your hands. Don’t you have bees to tend to? Foxes to kill? I need some good honey this year to go with my Greek yogurt! Now the blue toes are a rare disease from the Bahamas caused by too much rum and relaxation…..you should be so lucky.

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