We moved back to Santispac from El Burro Cove a few days ago. El Burro was okay but it’s a small bay and it gets shallow so soon that it’s hard to get in far enough to be really protected from north winds. And, what’s worse is that, being only minimally protected from the north, it’s easy for swells to wrap around into the bay. Santispac is much better protected and, although it can get really windy, even from the north, there is very little fetch and so, the water stays pretty smooth. And, being very well protected from the east, there is little chance of wraparound swell.
Things have been pretty quiet here since we got back, much like they were before we left. Yesterday afternoon, a new boat sailed in and, I do mean “sailed” in. It was fun to watch him tacking back and forth into the north wind under just his jib. He passed by most of the boats in the anchorage and, quite closely in some instances. Definitely looked like he knew what he was doing. Pretty soon he was where he wanted to be as evidenced by his jib being furled. He dropped the hook and settled in. He was a bit eastward and shoreward of us and we were a little concerned that he didn’t fire up his engine to back down on his anchor. But, he appeared to know what he was doing so who are we to say anything?
It blew pretty good yesterday afternoon and our new neighbor stayed put so I guess his anchoring technique was just fine. After a blustery day, we were rewarded with a pretty damn still night. The moon was almost full and, as we rowed home from Lupe’s after partaking of their Saturday evening buffet (this time it was roast pork), we enjoyed a very placid moonlit trip over flat water.
The weather reports this morning were all promising that the good times were about to come to a screeching halt for the next few days. Even here inside Bahia Concepcion, they were predicting northwest winds of 25-30 knots this afternoon and then for the first few days of next week. It started blowing pretty early today. After a nice late breakfast of grits and eggs, I was sitting in the cockpit reading while Lulu worked on a hatband she was making for our friend, Caleb. It was cool and breezy but I was snug behind the dodger, out of the wind most of the time. I looked up every so often to see what was happening. Once when I looked up I saw a new arrival. A sailboat was heading in and appeared to be single-handed judging from the fact that, even during anchoring, I only ever saw one person on deck. He got anchored to the SW of us and disappeared below.
One time, when I looked up, it looked sort of like our new neighbor, s/v “Rastafari”(not the boat’s real name)that sailed in yesterday might be moving. It was kind of hard to tell at first as we were both constantly dancing around our anchors. Rastafari was unmanned since “Tom” (not his real name) had rowed ashore several hours earlier. I couldn’t be sure the boat was actually moving so I went back to reading and looked up every so often to check on things. One time, when I checked, it certainly looked like he was closer to us than he had been earlier. I kept a watch and, within a few more minutes, it was definite, Rastafari was dragging anchor. There was no one downstream of him to hit so that wasn’t a worry but once he entered deeper water there would be nothing to stop his drift until the boat was dashed against the rocky sides of Isla San Ramon, or, if he managed to miss that, there was the barely exposed rocks in the mostly submerged reef between Punta Tordillo and Isla Pitahaya. There were a couple of motorized dinghies on shore but not everyone over there has or listens to the VHF radio. There were 2 other boats at anchor besides Siempre Sabado. But one was unmanned and I wasn’t sure about the other. Rastafari was passing by me pretty fast at this point and I knew I had to do something quickly. I donned a lifejacket and jumped in Babalooie and started rowing after Rastafari. Wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do although I did spy another anchor on the stern of the boat.
I reached Rastafari and sort of crashed into her side. Not a lot of finesse but at least I made it. I fastened the painter to the lifeline stanchion and climbed aboard. Felt pretty weird to just climb aboard someone else’s boat without permission but there was really no option. I went forward and started letting out anchor line. His anchor rode was nylon line and I really had no idea how much was out as it wasn’t marked. Not sure how much I let out before I snubbed it off. I waited a bit and we seemed to be stopped or at least slowed down. About then I heard someone ashore yell “HEY!” I looked and saw that Tom had jumped in his dinghy and was frantically rowing out to his boat. I let out a little more line and snubbed it off again. Pretty sure we weren’t moving anymore. I looked astern and, WTF? WHERE THE HELL IS BABALOOIE???? I looked further downwind and there he was, bobbing merrily along completely unencumbered by any sort of restraint. Fortunately, by now, Tom was almost back at the boat.
Tom was almost to the boat before he realized what had happened. Up until then, he thought I was trying to steal his boat. Figured I was pulling up the anchor and any minute he’d see his jib unfurled and have to watch me sail Rastafari away. He was visibly relieved when he figured it out. Once he was aboard, I told him what had happened and then pointed out my dinghy trying to make its escape. He said, no problem, we’ll just sail down on her and recapture her. He pulled the anchor aboard, partially unfurled the jib and off we went. He managed to bring Rastafari right alongside and upwind of Babalooie. While I steered, he snatched the painter and secured the dink to Rastafari. Actually secured it this time. Okay, two crises averted. Now he wanted to sail back to his anchorage which was pretty much upwind of where we were. Hey, I was game. Maybe I’d learn something.
Tom was a very accomplished sailor, at least as far as I could see. We had to do a number of tacks and a jibe or two. The wind was fluky, going from almost nothing to sudden gusts of 15 knots. We were sailing under partially furled jib only. While we sailed we talked about his dragging anchor. He’s using a 35 lb. CQR which should be adequate for this vintage Islander 30. Lulu and I have had limited luck with CQRs and, after we bought our Rocna, we sold our 35 lb. CQR cheap since we had no faith in it. However, lots of people use them and swear by them. His anchor had about 40′ of 1/4″ chain followed by an unknown quantity of 1/2″ nylon line. I asked him how much scope he had out. He wasn’t sure since the only actual length he knows is the 40′ of chain. After that, it’s all guess work. He thought that he probably had about 3:1. I don’t like to tell people what to do, but, if prompted I’ll gladly tell them what we do. I told Tom that we use a 35′ Rocna with all 5/16″ chain (well, at least the first 175′)and almost always try to put out at least 5:1. Right now, anchored in 27′ of water, we had 130′ of chain out. And then we back doqn hard on it. He allowed that maybe he should have let more line out and probably he should have started his motor yesterday and backed down on his anchor as well. I agreed that those were probably both good things to do. He said several times that now he was leery about even leaving the boat while the wind was up. I told him that we would definitely be staying aboard our boat through the blow.
We finally got back to where he wanted to drop the hook. He started the motor to get in final position. When he signaled, I dropped the anchor and started letting out line as we drifted backwards. I have absolutely no idea how much line I let out since there are no markings of any kind. Finally, when it seemed like enough, I snubbed the line off and the anchor bit down and stopped the boat. I suggested letting out a little more line and Tom agreed. Then he put the motor in reverse and backed down on the anchor. It held. He thanked me for my help and offered me another beer but, it was blowing stink and I was anxious to get back over to Siempre Sabado at the first let-up in the wind. Fortunately, we were upwind of my boat so all I had to do was row across the bow and the wind would blow me down onto the boat. And it did. Got there much quicker than I thought I would.
I wasn’t back at my boat for 15 minutes before I looked over and, HOLY CRAP! there goes Tom dinghying ashore again. Mind you it was really blowing. We had more or less steady winds of 12-15 with frequent excursions into the low 20s and the occasional gust of 30 knots or a little more. I’ve got a “new generation” anchor down, 130′ of heavy 5/16″ chain and a GPS that can tell me at a glance whether or not I’m staying put and I still won’t leave the boat when it’s blowing hard. Different strokes I guess. And, for what it’s worth, Rastafari seems to be staying put. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
Oh, and what does this have to do with the title, Paybacks? Well, back in March of 2011, we dragged anchor in La Paz (even with the Rocna and the chain) when we weren’t aboard and some kind souls jumped in their dinghies with extra anchors and rode and came over and secured Siempre Sabado before we crashed into the seawall outside Marina de La Paz. When I thanked them, they said, “Forget it, you’ll do the same for someone else someday.” They were right.