Wednesday, August 24, 2011

One of Those Nights

If today was one of those days that defined much of the best part about cruising, tonight provides a stark counterpoint, reminding of us of what all of us hate about cruising.

We have had a pretty mild summer, weather-wise. And in the last 2-3 weeks it has been exceptionally fine--winds less than 15 knots and sunny skies.

But tonight, sitting here in this remote atoll of Suwarrow, we are having the worst night I can remember of this whole cruising season. The wind is howling at 25 knots, it's drizzling rain off and on, and the wind direction is such that we're not in a very protected spot. It's a pretty good anchorage in winds anywhere from NW to ESE, but tonight the wind has gone to SE, and we've got nearly a 5 foot 'chop' rolling into the anchorage.

The wind was pretty nasty last night, but eased off during the day. However, the forecast for the next 24 hours is for really crappy conditions. In the late afternoon, the wind started to come back up again and swing more SE. And just at dusk, when most of us had already gone ashore for a potluck (scheduled before the weather forecast was announced), one boat actually broke their anchor. They actually snapped the shaft of their 'CQR'!!! Wow, that would really be a bummer. Fortunately, it happened while they were aboard, and during daylight. So it was only a 'fire drill' and not a disaster that would have put their boat and their dreams on the rocks. The 'engineers' in the fleet haven't had a chance to look at the anchor, but they surmise that it was one of those cheap Chinese knock-offs that are not properly hardened. Fortunately they were still onboard and noticed their boat adrift. They have re-anchored with a backup anchor, but that's pretty unsettling.

We have our big '2 sizes up' Delta anchor out. It is well set--buried in deep sand and checked and double-checked this afternoon. We have heavy oversized chain, and 2 snubbers on. And we tied a second line off to an old submerged mooring that I found while snorkeling around the boat. I wouldn't trust my boat to it, but there's chain down there, around a coral head, and a big line coming up. So it's a backup attachment that we hope we'll never have to test. So we should be sleeping well.

But the wind is howling in the rigging, and the boat is pitching. We are surrounded by our friends, all of whom have most of their money and all of their dreams invested in their boat. Some of whom are maybe not as well prepared as we are. It's one of those nights where boats break lose. We are all on a "lee shore" right now. It would be a bad time/bad place to break lose.

None of us will sleep well tonight...
Sherry & Dave
On our way from French Polynesia toward Tonga
At 8/23/2011 10:09 PM (utc) our position was 13°14.87'S 163°06.47'W

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