Monday, April 28, 2014

Anchoring Fun in Deshaies

April 21st and 22nd.
I am sure all cruisers have had their anchoring challenges.  We experienced our own fun inDeshaies.   Below is the shortened version - believe it or not.  Immediately after some big excitement the second night, I wrote in detail - aka real time- all that we experienced.  However, I realized stories told in real time aren't always the best on a blog. 

The cruising guilds and fellow cruisers warned us that Deshaies is a notoriously tough anchorage.  Bad holding, winds the come screaming down the mountains in various directions causing boats to swirl around and drag anchor.  Ugh!

Day One -When we arrived, there was no wind.  None.  This meant boats were turned every different direction.  Question - which way do you anchor when it's the first time in an anchorage and all the boats are facing different directions?  We opted for the way we thought the prevailing wind would be from.  We got the anchor to set but when Tom dove on it he didn't like the look.  If we were to swing, it would probably come loose.  We reset on the far side of the field.  There was a cat sort of close by but the distance looked ok.  Nightfall and still little to no wind.  Middle of the night, rain but no wind.  Several glances out and we seemed ok.  4am'ish and time for another quick peek out the portlight to check our position....."Hum?  Wonder how we are doing in relation to that cat?"  I go out into the cockpit to find we are swinging very close to the cat!  We never hit but at one point I did fire up our engine just in case.  I stayed in the cockpit on anchor watch the rest of the night until morning.  My entertainment was watching boats swing every which way but loose.  It was crazy.

Day Two - The scream winds everyone talked about returned.  One good thing about this was at least everyone was facing the same direction.  Bad thing is screaming winds through an anchorage chuck full of boats.  21:30 we have remained set, however, I look out our portlight to see a boat with no lights dragging through the anchoring field.  There was no one onboard - no dinghy - they must be ashore.  A few yachts had high powered spotlights on it - us included.  VHF discussion between two boats about launching dinghies to go after it.  Wind is still screaming.  Awful sitting in the cockpit watching this boat drag!  Luckily it never hits any other boat.  Unluckily it never hits any other boat and is now dragging out towards rocks and/or open sea.  No sign of the dinghies that were going to go after it.  Horrible just watching her drag further and further out.  She was getting harder to see.  We can't take it.  We would want someone to do something if it was s/v Honey Ryder.  We decided to go after her.  As we launch our dinghy another goes by on their way out to see what can be done.  We grab handheld VHF, 200 ft of line, high powered spotlight, headlamps, knifes, gloves and our foulies.  The yacht next to us helps us find the way towards the drifting boat by shining their spot in that direction.  When we reach her there are two French guys already onboard messing with the anchor.  A Canadian is also onboard.  He found the ignition key but can't get the boat started.   He thinks the battery is dead.  The Frenchies dump out all the chain. They think 300ft.  They also set the secondary anchor.  She is just off rocks at the mouth of the harbor and seems to be holding.  The Frenchies can't get her started either.  We all decide that is the best we can do and head back to check our boats.  I go on anchor watch.  NO WAY I am sleeping below tonight!  1:15am.  Spanish dinner party on boat next to us breaks up.  One couple is dinghying back to their boat when their outboard quits.  The screaming winds start taking them quickly towards sea.  I watch closely.   Luckily they get the oars going and reach their boat on the far side of the field after some powerful rowing.  I dose a bit and then wake up to check our position.  We seem to be fine with boats on both sides and behind.  Whew!  A little later I hear very loud halyards banging, very close and look forward to see a boat very close to us.  It has drug down towards us.  The guy onboard is up messing with the loud halyards.  He doesn't seem too worried about the fact that he is slowly dragging - halyards take priority!  Finally he messes with the anchor and goes below.  BELOW!  I watch for some time.  He seems to be reset.  I set an alarm - 15 mins and then check.  He is still set.  So are we.  20 mins - still set.  30 mins, 45 mins and then 1 hour.  This continued through the night.  Finally morning came.  We made coffee and pulled the anchor up and headed south down the coast.  Enough anchor fun for now.    

Ok.  Not really short but not real time either.  Hey!  A lot happened each night!        


  1. What an anchoring nightmare! I'm glad you guys were okay. Nothing worse then being up all night on anchor watch in screaming winds. Someone could make millions if they could invent a drag-proof anchor. If only I was that clever!

  2. Sounds like you probably missed he botanical gardens.

  3. Sounds awful! Glad you made it through okay, but I am sure you were exhausted after all that.