Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dirk's Guest Appearance And Take on The Grounding


I had told Nancy a while back that I would "Guest write" the blog every once in a while, mainly when something went wrong in a big way.  Well, it is that time again. It was a dark and stormy day..actually it was daytime, sunny and about 75degrees, but that wouldn't make for a good story.  So there I was, IMC, upside down and my air medals were dangling.. All jokes aside now.  It was in the late afternoon and we came back on the outside, meaning in the deeper water, from Warderick Wells to Staniel Cay .  We made it through the cut with no problems as we had done numerous times before.  From there it is only a few miles along a channel to get to the anchorage for the night.  We were all in the cockpit, talking and not really paying attention, which was my first mistake.  As we came by the fuel dock and the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, I looked at the Chart plotter, which showed me just a little off to the port side of our many previously recorded tracks.  My next look was to the depth finder, which showed about 6 1/2 feet.  Keep in mind that we need to have 5 1/2 feet not to go thump, thump, stop.  We did have the sun setting in our faces, which prevented us from seeing the different colors of the water.  The channel is normally easy to see since it is deeper and therefore has darker water.  I asked Nancy to help me by keeping an eye on the depth with me.  No sooner then I said that, it went thump, thump, thump stop. We now showed less than 5 feet under us, which I could confirm by the lack of movement of the boat in the water.  The port side was about 2 feet out of the water and the starboard side was not.  We were leaning a pretty good bit to the starboard side.  Luckily the tide was at dead low and was starting to come in.  So if we only wait 5-6 hours, we should be floating again.  NOT!!  The little, well reef that I decided to visit was getting shallower in front of us, meaning that when the tide comes up, and we start moving forward from that strong current, we will get pushed further onto the reef and may become the new permanent resident here.  Our only way was to get back off this reef the way we came.  That however was easier said than done.  We all couldn't believe that we did this, but no one freaked out (too much).  My first concern was the boat, but since we have almost a 2 inch thick hull and a full keel that is 18 inches wide I was not too concerned.  I got on my snorkel gear and took a look under water.  Yeap, we were stuck.  As I looked around the reef, I saw lots of other places where boats had sat and left their mark on the hard coral bottom.  After realizing that we were not taking on water, Larry and I tried to get the second anchor set behind us, therefore preventing us from drifting further forward once the tide comes in.  Only having a 75lb spare anchor with 100 foot chain made it impossible to get the anchor were we needed it to be.  So we put it back in the dinghy and kept brainstorming.  A dinghy from the Motor Yacht " Nota Bene" had come by earlier and offered their assistance.  So in my dinghy I went and talked to the Captain of the boat, who was very nice and told me that he would be over in a few minutes.  He had a close to 20 foot dinghy with a 90hp motor on it.  Hopefully that will do it.  We got back to Renegade as Bobby and Francie from S/V Barefootin stopped by, telling me that the locals in the bar were taking bets on how long we would be stuck there. So now we had 2 dinghies to help us and the tide was rising too.  The plan was to pull us back with the big tender, while Bobbie would push our nose over, so that we would be going into deeper water.  It must have taken both dinghies, and me in full reverse, about 45 minutes, but we started moving and got of the reef into deeper water.  Just in time too.  Looking to the north, there was a nasty squall line coming our way.  We made it about 1/2 mile to find some cover behind an island, threw out the anchor and didn't even have time to back down on it.  The squall took care of that for us.  I am so glad we got off the reef when we did.  If the squall would have caught us on there, it could possibly have had a different ending.  That being said, a big thanks to all the helped, and Larry and Lisa, for not freaking out(too much) LOL I needed to scrape the barnacles of my keel anyway.

1 comment:

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