When we’re lying in the v-berth, at anchor on a particularly windy night, that creaking noise is very reassuring to me. It’s the sound that the anchor snubbers make as strain is put on them where they pass through the hawseholes in the bulwarks. For those who don’t know, snubbers are nylon ropes that are attached to the anchor chain. The chain is then allowed to go slack so that the strain is on the nylon snubbers instead of directly on the chain. Why? Well, first, nylon stretches and chain doesn’t. Every time the boat hobbyhorses, the anchor chain goes slack as the bow dips and then goes taut as it rises again. If this strain was put directly on the chain, besides the infuriating noise it’d make, there’s the very real possibility of snapping the chain. The nylon acts as a shock absorber. The snubber also eases the strain that could otherwise be put on the windlass as it tries to hang on to the alternately slack/taut chain. Our snubber consists of two 5/8″ nylon three-strand lines. One end of each line has a thimbled eyesplice. The eyesplices are joined in a shackle which is in turn shackled to a chain hook. The other end of each line is led to a cleat on each side of the foredeck after passing through the hawseholes in the bulwarks where they are protected from chafe by a short length of fire hose. After the anchor is set and dug in, we attach the chain hook to the anchor chain, cleat the ends of the snubbers and then lower the chain until it’s hanging in a shallow loop ending at the now-taut snubbers.
Yesterday was a flat calm day. Towards sunset, the slight breeze turned a wee bit cool. Cool enough that we closed the doors and sliding hatch when we went below. And cool enough that Lulu was wrapped in a blanket over her long pants and long-sleeved shirt as we sat watching old episodes of The Cosby Show and True Blood (how’s that for contrast?). We finished our shows and were ready to turn in about 2130. And then the wind started to build.
The wind shifted directions and started blasting down on us from the west like it did a couple days ago. That was good news since I knew that we were really well dug in from that direction after managing the high west winds before. When it shifted, the temperature went up quite noticeably. This was a very warm wind. It sounded like a freakin’ hurricane outside but, when I checked with my handheld anemometer, we were getting 15-20 knots with occasional gusts to about 23 knots, just like a few days ago. We went to bed a wee bit nervous but overall, pretty confident that we’d stay put. I got up every 20-30 minutes to check our position on the GPS and it was like we were glued to the spot although Siempre Sabado danced back and forth across the wind. As we lay in bed, I’d listen and, along with the howling outside, I’d hear that reassuring creak that meant there was still strain between the boat and the anchor. If the anchor was loose, there’d be nothing to strain against.
We both managed to fall asleep until around 0030 when the wind picked up in speed. I went topside to check it out. It was really blowing now. Blowing like stink as a matter of fact. The seas were in turmoil but the wind was flattening out the waves somewhat. I checked the speed and found we were now getting 20-25 knot winds with frequent gusts to 28 knots. Might have gusted a little higher occasionally but I got tired of holding the anenometer up into the wind waiting for the big one. A look at the GPS showed that the 15 kg Rocna anchor at the end of 110′ of 5/16″ G4 chain was holding us firmly in place. Reassured, we again managed to drift off to sleep after reading a little while to get our minds off the wind. Every so often, my ears would register that nice creaking noise and I’d drift back off to sleep.
Since we were getting wind from a consistent direction, I decided to set the anchor alarm for reassurance. As I’ve written before, we don’t usually use the alarm because it sets up a perimeter from where you are when you set the alarm, not where your anchor is. So, you could drift back towards your anchor and the alarm would sound even though you haven’t dragged at all. But, with the wind so steady from the west, I wanted to know if we were getting any further away from the anchor to the east. At 0330, the alarm sounded. It wasn’t really all that windy so I wasn’t too concerned as I scrambled topsides to check it out. Sure enough, the wind had shifted enough to set us a bit north of our previous position at which point, while still the same distance from the anchor, we were nevertheless, in the alarm zone. I could see we were still holding well so I shut the alarm off. At about 0430, the wind just dropped off to nothing and stayed that way the rest of the night and we’re still just wallowing around as I write this at 1100 on Friday morning.
In retrospect, I had the perfect opportunity to set the anchor alarm correctly yesterday. At several times during the day, our position on the GPS put us directly on top of where I’m pretty sure the anchor is. I should have set up an alarm radius at that point but didn’t think of it. Won’t let an opportunity like that pass today if it presents itself.
Our friend Chuck on s/v Jacaranda e-mailed the other day. He had heard me describe the winds we had earlier when I checked in to the Sonrisa Net (SSB) the next morning. He said that he’s seen 50 knot west winds come rolling down into the anchorage right off Guillermo’s, which is near where we are. He said that, sometimes, you can move as little as 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile southwards, towards Gecko Beach, and get completely out of the wind. Doesn’t hardly seem possible but Chuck generally knows what he’s talking about. The only chores we have left are to pick up our laundry tomorrow morning and to get two more jerry jugs of diesel right after I post this. I think we’ll hold tough here until after we pick up laundry tomorrow then we might move down to Gecko Beach. However, if things get too crazy, the GPS shows us dragging, and I don’t hear that reassuring creak, we’ll book out of here whenever we have to.
BTW, don’t know if it foretold anything or not, but yesterday afternoon while it was really still out, the sky was pretty hazy like there was a lot of dust in the air. And, there were lots and lots of little islands of dust sitting on the top of the water. Like I said, I don’t know if that means anything but you can bet I’ll be keeping an eye out for that this afternoon.