A Boat in Distress…and What to Do About It

Placencia
Belize

So after another wonderful day, we heard on the radio that there was a norther coming on Saturday morning, with expected winds from the northwest at 10-15.  As we sat Friday night over the rum and oj, we remarked to ourselves that heck, 10-15 was nothing, we were on the south side of the cay, and we could handle it.  We snorkeled the anchorage, and found we were set in sand on top of a hill in about 30 feet of water. The anchor chain lay across the top of the hill and gently circled down to the bottom at 50 feet before tracking back up to the boat.  We thought we’d be fine, as we had out 175 feet of chain.

About two miles away, in an area the chart calls Bread and Butter Cays (but the cruising guide calls Stewart Cay), we spotted another trawler, tried to hail them on the radio, but they must have been otherwise occupied.

At 11:00 p.m. on Friday night, Jan was up on the computer and Ole had just gone to bed, when, out of nowhere, the wind started blowing 25 with gusts to 30, out of the northwest.  So much for weather forecasting.

Ole shot out of bed, looked at the plotter, and found we had slipped anchor and our adrenaline kicked in.  [Read more…]

Lesson Learned: Emma Jo Can Take WAY More than We Can

At anchor, Bahia del Espiritu Santo
Quintana Roo, Mexico

It’s clear that every day contains lessons learned.

On Sunday evening, at 9:00, we weighed anchor from San Miguel in Cozumel, headed just about due south for Bahia del Espiritu Santo some 86 nautical miles down the coast. The first three hours we were in the lee of Cozumel, had light winds, and gentle swell from the south southeast, and we said to ourselves, hey – this won’t be too bad. Had some tunes on the I-pod, homemade oatmeal cookies, a pot of French Roast sitting in the thermos in the sink, and everything secured for sea. The swells, though 4 to 6 feet, were long and slow enough for us to actually enjoy them.

Then we discovered that the boat can take way more than either the autopilot or the crew.

About half an hour south of the tip of Cozumel, we were in the deep blue of the ocean, and the winds steadily increased to between 18 and 25 miles per hour, and the size of the swell began to overwhelm the autopilot. By about 2:45 a.m., with Jan on watch and Ole trying to catch some rest down below, the autopilot screamed that it had had enough, what with trying to maintain 6.5 knots while fighting off a steady east wind, a strong north setting current, swells increasing to 8-10 feet, and an annoying wind chop on top. [Read more…]

The First of Many Lessons to be Learned: We’re Homeless!

12:10 pm
San Miguel, Cozumel

(From Jan’s personal journal…)

Left Isla Mujeres about 11:00 am yesterday morning, in partly cloudy skies and fresh east wind of 20-25 knots, making for some rolly conditions as we headed south to Cozumel. The only casualty was a set screw in the port aft corner of the bimini, making Ole go up on the fly bridge to jury-rig a tie down during some pretty decent rolls.

We arrived in Cozumel just as the sun was setting, and anchored in 15 feet of swimming-pool clear water just off my favorite artisan store “Los Cinco Soles,” and sat through the departure announcements of Splendor of the Seas, anchored a couple of hundred yards off our stern. We laughed, realizing that Ole had no standby, no passenger duties, and no pager to go off in the middle of the night.

The anchorage is unprotected, so we gently rocked during the night, and more forcefully during the morning, as the Crown Princess arrived to the accompaniment of excursion boats zooming past us with abandon. [Read more…]