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Dragging anchor at Night!

April 1, 2016

 

We’re now in the USVI’s at Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas. 

We are anchored in the St Thomas bay and the wind has been gusting up to 37 knots for the past few days, it makes sleeping a little tough when you worry about others or even your boat dragging into danger. Today the wind is a little lighter though and it is forecast to subside late tomorrow, but only for the day then back up in strength. 

We will pull anchor and steer towards St John in the lighter winds of 20 knots. 

The wind here just gusted up to 28 knots.

 

When we first arrived in the USVI’s we dropped the hook at the smaller “Water Island”, often called the fourth USVI. 

We arrived near 5 pm and the little bay was gorgeous but also packed with other boaters. We anchored fairly far out at the mouth of the bay because of this.

All was good, the wind was fine and our anchor held strong. I always dive the anchor but it was getting close to dusk and I wouldn’t be able to see it, we were also anchored in 30 feet of water due to the fact we had to be on the outside of the bay, so tonight we did not.

We had our sundowners and a dinghy ride around the anchored boats to say hi to a couple we knew, then it was diner and to bed.

 

The wind was shifting and before we were asleep we had changed direction. We were now banging into a rogue mooring ball that we thought we were going to be far enough away from when we anchored. Turns out we weren’t. It banged randomly against our hull for more than an hour and just as we gave up being able to stand the noise and we were planning on pulling anchor (in the dark now) the wind shifted again, we were now clear of the mooring ball and it’s racket against our hull. Back to bed.

Around 2:30 am Cole woke as the ball was once again banging against our hull. He came into our room and woke me. He thought we were dragging anchor and had the smarts to wake the Captain.

 

I got out of bed and went out to check and see if we were indeed dragging and what we were going to do about it.

Krista came up as well and Cole went back to bed waiting to be called to help.

We did the usual studying of nearby land marks and other boats to see if we were dragging. Nothing. 

We were still sitting pretty but the wind had now picked up a little. 

Just then we noticed a 62 foot mono hull that was a boat or two away from us, they were dragging and dragging fast. 

We watched in near horror as it crashed into a smaller mono hull sailboat behind them. There was stainless steel work on both boats and the stern of the 62 footer was crashing against the bow of the smaller boat and things were looking bad. 

Krista grabbed the VHF and began hailing them as I quickly started lowering the dinghy into the water. No answer on the VHF and no one was on deck. 

They continued to crash back and forth into the other boat as I fired up our dinghy and sped over to see if I could help. 

Just then the captain of the 62 footer came up to his helm and started his engines while his wife headed up to the bow to try and pull up anchor. They were swinging back and froth in the wind and it was tough for either of them to do their jobs in the dark, windy and rainy night.

I pushed our inflatable dinghy against their hull and gave our little 15 hp outboard all she had. I pushed and pushed trying to move her behemoth size off of the other boat before it got worse. It began to work, and slowly I was pushing the two boats off of each other. The Captain then gave his diesels more power and shot his 62 footer forward while his wife slowly tried to got the anchor up, hard work in those conditions. 

The movement of the two boats coming off of each other’s stainless steel work reacted back against me in my little dinghy. I was pushed all over the place barely missing taking my head off on the stainless steel bow roller of the smaller boat! That scared the hell out of me! I was so lucky, everyone was lucky!

Before you say it... lol,  I don't think I will take this kind of action next time...

 

The wind had increased and it took the 62 foot sailboat forever to get their anchor re set. 

Soaking wet in my underwear I made my way back to our boat. After putting on a sweater and some dry shorts I stayed up until 4:30 am watching to see if this story would play out again with a different boat. Luckily that was it for the night. 

Soon after first light we pulled up our anchor and headed off to the larger harbour of St Thomas, and here we are waiting for these winds to subside even a little when we will set sail for St John.

Talk soon

Brad

 

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