Captain's Log, Stardate:1/14/04
Hello to All:
After being on the boat with me from October 23 to December 12, how DOES one give his wife a good send off to go home for Christmas and to do taxes?
This is how it turned out: To be sure the boat was secure with no crew to help me move if I dragged anchor, and being too cheap to leave the boat in a marina for two weeks, I had remembered seeing Nassau's "hurricane chain" that passed from Paradise Island to the main island of New Providence. Its purpose was to stop a barge or ship from dragging anchor and destroying itself or worse, crashing into an auto laden bridge. I had actually seen it while snorkeling some seven years earlier and knew approximately where it was. So we dropped anchor close to where it should have been and I dove around the boat. Sure enough, there it was although it no longer passed across the harbor. The links in this chain were about 10" long and each link was better than 1" in diameter with a cross member for added strength and support. More important to me was that it was HEAVY. If I could get tied to this chain directly, the boat wouldn't be going anywhere no matter what the winds.
Tying to this chain would have the added benefit of showing all the other 30 or so sailboats anchored in the harbor how much smarter I was than they. They all had 1-3 anchors out and many had to reset their anchors several times. This is because in Nassau, the current comes rushing through the harbor from E-W for six hours and then reverses, with the changing tide, to come W-E. So even if you get your one anchor set perfectly now, six hours later you would be pulling on it from the opposite direction with a good chance of dislodging it.
I found the chain in the 20' of water just like I had recalled although I can no longer free-dive to that depth and do anything constructive while down there. But I have been getting wealthier at about the same rate I've been getting weaker so I broke out our latest toy, a hookah made by "Airline." This is basically a gasoline-powered air compressor that floats on the surface while providing up to four divers with compressed air via long hoses, essentially a poor man's SCUBA.
Using the Airline, I and a neighbor boater were able to wrap a spare chain around the hurricane chain several times and shackle the end. At this point, I felt secure enough for Mary to get on the other airline for the flight back to MN. Not only was the boat now tied to the hurricane chain but, as an added safety measure, I left the anchor and its 150' of 3/8" chain in place. Very smart.
At about 11 p.m. on December 15, the night before Mary was to fly out, a boat came out from Club Med, near where we had "moored," and asked us and several other boats to move. Feeling a little less smart, I told him we couldn't. He said we HAD to move because a barge would be launching a fireworks display from right where we were located. I protested that there was no way we could move and that it would be easier for the barge to launch from a different location. His respectful--albeit unsettling--response was, "It's your call, skipper" and then left. As the other boats in the immediate vicinity began picking up their anchors and moving, I was thinking maybe the brain was a muscle and it too was growing weaker with age.
All we could do was get the garden hose out and be ready to spray down the boat if things got too bad. An hour later, they did.
The opening salvo at midnight was spectacular! The barge was a mere 100 yds downwind and we felt almost safe . . . and blessed at the same time. Ashes seemed to drop in the water some 50 yds relatively safely downwind and, being that close, a good part of the sky was ablaze. The best, and closest, fireworks display we had ever seen!
Then there was a slight lull and we looked toward the barge and saw that it had moved closer to us, probably because ashes were being dropped on boats they hadn't told to move. Another huge salvo and I glanced at the barge and it was still coming, now about 50 yds.
When you're on a boat in a harbor, the sky is much bigger than in your own back yard. Yet nearly the whole sky was nothing but fireworks explosions. And the sound was deafening, especially the concussion bombs or whatever they're called. And still the barge came closer, only 30 yds at this point! Fireworks were now detonating upwind of our bow with live embers occasionally falling in the water a few feet behind the boat. Starbursts could be seen with glowing particles emanating in all directions including one right toward us, expanding larger and larger as it would get closer and then nothing, luckily! I've never been close enough to fireworks before to be able to see an ember coming right at me! So I began spraying down the sail bag with the garden hose and then, in a huge grand finale that filled the sky in all directions, it was over. What a send off for Mary! The next morning, we could find no evidence on deck of the spectacular night before. Someone said it was put on in celebration of the Chinese New Year. I was beginning to feel smart again.
Two weeks later our friends, the Morgans, arrived. It was time to disconnect from the chain. We launched the Airline, and ran a single rope through one of the links in the hurricane chain. Then we unshackled my spare anchor chain from the hurricane chain so that all we would have to do in the morning is pull out the line and recover the anchor. To be safe, Clayton and I followed the anchor chain for the entire 150' and found it to be free of obstructions.
Then came the big day, after cooling our heels in Nassau for both Christmas and Boxing Day waiting for the supermarkets to open, we were all set to sail on over to Andros Island. The rope pulled through without a hitch. But the anchor would not come up. We tried everything. Finally, Clayton snorkeled over to the bow and reported that our anchor chain was entangled in the hurricane chain. He said the boat's anchor chain was wrapped several times around the hurricane chain. I was starting to feel foolish again. How could our dinky 3/8" anchor chain ever began to get underneath a gigantic chain with 10" links and more than once, no less! Clayton thought we would have to pull our anchor chain through from one end or the other. I couldn't believe that.
We broke out the Airline again and both Clayton and I tried to unwrap the big chain from the little one.
It was impossible. I felt really stupid now. The Morgans would lose one of their vacation days and have to sit around on the boat yet another day. The anchor was quite a distance from the boat so I had to swim out to the anchor, mark it with a buoy, disconnect the chain from it, and then bring the end of the chain back to the rat's nest for the unthreading operation. which took another hour. Then we had to retrieve the anchor in the dinghy and reattach it to the chain. We totally missed our "departure window" and had to stay another night. Comparing that to Christmas in MN and I was wishing I was back in the frozen North.
The rest of the cruise with the Morgans went very well. We toured the wonderful aquariums at Atlantis and then sailed to Andros Island where we anchored behind the third longest barrier reef in the world and speared a very nice lobster. As we crossed the "tongue of the ocean" on our way to the Exumas, Clayton reeled in a 20 LB mahi-mahi. In Staniel Cay, we dove the famous "Thunderball Cave," where the James Bond movie was made and rode out a cold front passage behind Rudder Cut Cay where Clayton speared his first lobster.
Although it started out "with a bang," the New Year has been very nice for us all . . . so far! But stay tuned for more disaster reports!
Hope all is well with you and your family.
Lee and Mary