Friday, April 13, 2018

Bequia 2018 Screaming Winds, Dragging Boats, HUGE Swell

Big anchorage, why so close?  And look who it is......

February 2018

It has been really windy here in Bequia.  REALLY!  It can funnel through the gap in the hills and scream down into the anchorage.  And it keeps blowing.  We had two and a half weeks of non-stop wind.  Then a short break and then back at it again.  Below is some of the fun that has taken place in the anchorage lately.  Some of this during the week we had no yacht insurance.  Yep, never dull.
Dragging, tangled cats
sv Wind Cat broke her anchor chain and started dragging through the anchorage.  The owners are charter captains who were down in the Tobago Cayes on a charter.  A call went out on the VHF radio that sv Wind Cat was dragging.  She soon snagged another unoccupied cat and then they were both dragging.  Of course, cruisers to the rescue.  Tom went, Patrick (sv Illusions), Jason (sv Blue Blaze) a few others and then a few local boats arrived as well.  Tom had to actually get on sv Wind Cat along with another guy to help untangle it from the other cat.  The wind was so strong that the dinghies were not having any luck moving the two tangled boats.  A local boat took over and towed sv Wind Cat up and put her on a mooring.  The other cruisers were able to get the other cat's anchor to set again.  Whew!  Scary note - Tom nearly lost his head during this rescue.  sv Wind Cat has a wind generator on her forward, starboard bow AT NECK HEIGHT!  Let me state that again, the wind generator is at neck level!  This should never, ever be.  And on the starboard bow?  WTF!  It was spinning so fast in the wind, Tom could not see the blades at all.  He could hear it but with all the commotion, didn't really take note.  It was only at the last minute he saw it swivel in the wind and stopped short.  People - never, ever, EVER mount a wind generator at body height, period!!!!  Even if you get a wind generator for free, spend the money to mount it properly.
Putting sv Wind Cat on a mooring after she broke free of her anchor
Just before 4am this morning a strong squall came through with powerful winds.  It woke me up.  I got up to check the 62ft charter cat in front of us.  I was worried they would drag.  Sure enough, they are dragging down towards us.  We both went into scrambled mode.  I hit them with our new, powerful, LED spotlight (love this thing) trying to wake someone up.  Tom went for our airhorn - not working -damn!  Tom dives for the dinghy key to unlock it and race up there and bang on their hull.  This monstrosity keeps dragging down towards us. This 62ft by 30ft+ monster is going to hit us!  I didn't know what else to do.  I started screaming WAKE UP! GET UP! YOUR DRAGGING! over and over and over at the top of my lungs. I hear Tom fire up the dinghy. I hear people on another cruising boat near by.  I keep screaming.  OMG -They are going to hit us.  They are less that 1/2 boat length away from us.  I am shaking all over.  Finally, a few on board wake up. The captain comes up and acknowledges. I keep yelling GO,GO,GO.  Luckily, they swing off to the side so I can spot our anchor marker, now ahead of their port bow.  I hit my spot on that and keep it there, yelling at the captain to keep clear of it.  Slowly they motored forward.  It seemed like it took forever. They pulled anchor and slowly motored to the outer edge of the anchorage.  Maybe the Captain decided to go on to Tobago Cayes "early".  I don't know or care as long as they are gone from us. Tom motored back to our boat and I finally shut off the spotlight and made my way back to the cockpit, wet and shaking from the whole thing.  This morning I have many strong thoughts about charter boats, charter captains and 62 ft catamarans - most are not nice. I am going to hold those for now until I can get some more sleep. 
Charter cat - this one is only 50 ft (roll eyes)
Bitch wings - a common sight in most anchorages.  Bitch wings are when a cruiser gets up on deck and puts their hands on their hips and arms out to the side.  This is done when someone is anchoring too near or thinking about anchoring near or perceived to be anchoring too near.  "Did you see that stupid charterboat trying to anchor too near this afternoon?  I had to get out my bitch wings and run them off."  Or "Dude, I saw you out there just now with your bitch wings on.  Good for you."  Bitch wings are not reserved for a particular sex.  Anyone can put on their bitch wings and flash them around when needed.  Sometimes they work (like with charter boats that are self chartered or other cruisers) and sometimes they don't (like charter boat captains and the French).  
Too close, no need in such a big anchorage

I have found something better than Bitch Wings.  It is my handy-dandy, new, lightweight and powerful LED spotlight.  If I am worried, I hit that a few times starting at sundown, even just to spot on the boat in front of us so I know exactly where they are and how close.  If they don't like getting hit with a powerful spotlight a couple of times during the night, they should not have anchored so near and they can move in the morning.  I joked with friends that instead of bitch wings, I would stand on deck with a holster.  On one side would be my spotlight and on the other, my airhorn.  A cruising friend added "Don't forget your cutlass.  Put that in the belt of your holster for an added touch."  Good idea.  Ha!  Let's see who anchors near us now if I am up on deck with all that!  
Poor sv Crazy Love
Poor sv Crazy Love.  This is a chartboat out of St Vincent at it is being abused.  In the last four weeks we have seen the following.  1.)  Three English guys grounded her and then "bumped" a cruising cat while trying to un-ground themselves.  2.)  sv Crazy Love drug down slowly on our friend Kurt's (sv Imagine) boat.  French cruisers rescue Kurt's boat by hopping on board and putting his fenders out and kept damage from happening.  The clueless charters return to find their boat has moved.  Resulting inquiry uncovered the reason for the dragging....they put out 40ft of anchor scope in 12 -15ft of water.  WAY too little scope as Tom scolded them.  3.)  A week later, a family of three chartered sv Crazy Love. Dad is motoring FULL speed through the anchorage.  He is way too close to shore and headed straight for shallows just off our starboard side.  He is motoring so fast there is not time to yell over and warn him.  They come to an abrupt stop - hard grounding.  They get themselves off and then anchor too close to us and then too near the French boat to our port stern.  Sigh.....poor sv Crazy Love.  It has done nothing and yet charter guests are abusing the hell out of this poor boat.  I emailed the company to let them know.  I got a very nice and prompt email back thanking me for the information.
Big swell destroying the new part of the Belmont Walkway and Princess Margaret Beach

Big Swell was predicted.  Big swell arrived in Bequia big time!  There are basically four areas to anchor in Admiralty Bay;  Lower Bay, Princess Margaret Beach, up front on the south side and north side.  Lower Bay and Princess Margaret Beach can be rolly at times.  This is not uncommon.  What was predicted was big swell, all up and down the island chain. We all knew about it for days.  Many changed anchorages or even islands, looking for protection.  The problem was the direction of the swell.  It was supposed to come from the north, northwest, west and possibly even a little southwest.  None of these good for the normally well protect anchorages in the lee of these islands.  We had already moved up from Princess Margaret Beach weeks ago during the really strong winds.  We were now anchored off the Bequia Plantation Hotel - at the start of the up front south side.  We thought we would be ok.  The day the swell hit, I was up early for some reason.  At 6am I looked down at Lower Bay to see a series of HUGE swells breaking way far out from shore in the anchorage.  At least 100 yards out from the beach, basically in the back of the anchoring field.   I woke Tom up. "You have to come see the swells in Lower Bay."  Soon our awe turned to serious concern.  It was getting dangerous for the yachts down there and in Princess Margaret Beach.  They were all violently rolling in the swell.  Many began pulling up anchor and heading to the north side or up front to mooring balls.  As more and more swells broke, a mass exodus happened.  Most but not all.  A few stayed.  Then as the day went on, the swell shifted and came towards us.  We ended up facing west -so weird.  Which put us 90 degrees to our anchor set and much closer to the beach.  Luckily, this also put us head on into the swell.  Much safer and more comfortable to ride them out head on vs taking the waves on the side of the boat.  They were breaking just behind us and occasionally under us.  In hindsight, I would have preferred to be one more boat length out from shore.  We were a tad close at this angle.  The full weight of sv Honey Ryder pulling and tugging at the anchor snubber, chain and anchor.  But she held.  Everyone stayed on their boats at the ready for whatever.  Huge waves crashed all day on the Belmont Walkway, battering dinghy docks and sloshing into restaurants along the shoreline.  The new part of the walkway was washed way.  The pounding waves eroded must of Princess Margaret Beach.  It was an intense, nerve wracking day.  Then just as sunset was starting, the swell returned to Lower Bay with a vengeance.  The few boats that were left down there were once again in danger.  Two or three of them were knocked down rail to rail in the violent rolling.  They all but two moved.  Those somehow survived.  Tom and I decided to sleep in the cockpit just in case.  It finally calmed down enough that we went below at 1:30 am to bed.  What a day!   

Double fire hose for chafe guard on the anchor snubber.  This is after two months in Bequia.

It wasn't always terrible in the anchorage.  There were many nice days and calm mornings and still nights.  I just give you the above examples so you know what it can sometimes be like in an anchorage.  We had a wonderful time in Bequia.  We stayed two months!

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't handle those conditions -- I would have been a wreck! Glad you made it through okay, but whew....!