Chain Reaction

Just another dull night anchored off La Paz.

We were disturbed from our cozy cabin around 10pm last night by our neighbor knocking loudly on the hull.  He looked wild – bouncing around in his dingy in the 20 knots of wind and small steep waves.  “So sorry to trouble you”, he yelled politely, “but I wanted to alert you to what’s going on.”

We turned forward to where his 50-ft steel boat had been anchored about 400 feet west of us.  Instead of one boat, we saw two!

He breathlesly recounted how, just minutes before, the smaller yacht in front of him had dragged anchor right into his boat.  Since the owners were not on board, he had luckily been able to tie the loose boat to the stern of his to prevent her from moving further. The big problem was: now his anchor had started dragging too.

As we shouted back and forth over the noise of the wind, the two boats started bearing down on us.  Uh oh. Our neighbor also revealed that he was in the process of cleaning his fuel tanks, so didn’t have a working engine.  Double Uh-oh.  We didn’t even have time to drop our dingy before the aft boat was within feet of our starboard bow. I grabbed a fender and Will and I both raced to the foredeck with pounding hearts.  The cold wind was howling and there was another weird noise… “Watch the wind generator!” Will screamed at me and we both ducked.  The blades of the wind gen mounted on the back deck of the smaller boat were turning so fast that you couldn’t see them.  Although it was still feet away, if the blades somehow hit one of HYDROQUEST’s shrouds, who knows what would happen…

Our new friend was very nimble and his seamanship was impressive.  He jumped onto the smaller boat, started up the engine, untied her from his own, and steered her out into the darkness. It was so close that he missed hitting his own hull by mere inches.

Once relieved of the extra weight of the second boat, the 50-ft-er’s anchor caught and she stopped moving.  She pulled back to about 30 feet from us, which was still too close for comfort but now seemed like miles away.

Will jumped in our dingy and went to assist and I kept watch over the distance between our boats. The two guys were able to untangle the anchor and chain and re-anchor the smaller boat. That’s what fellow cruisers do! [Side note: if anyone had noticed HYDROQUEST dragging two days ago, I’m sure they would’ve done the same.  I think we just happened to notice her moving before anyone else.]

Once that problem was solved and Will was back on board, we let out the rest of our chain and another 40 feet of rode to give us a bit of room from the big boat (who couldn’t move herself).  We probably should’ve pulled up and re-anchored, but we didn’t want to risk further complications.  We’d had enough excitement for the evening.

We’re still waiting for the wind to abate this morning so we can move.  We’re considering trying a different spot in the anchorage…

3 thoughts on “Chain Reaction

  1. karina says:

    At least the cruising life is not boring. This is exactly how I remember it – times of sheer bliss mixed in with moments of sheer terror! Keep the blog entries coming Sarah – we are enjoying your take on it all. xxx Karen


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