July 10, 2010

Time to get the heck out of Dodge!

We made it out of the Hiva Oa anchorage the other day. It was total craziness though. Basically everyone is anchored behind a break wall and they have both a front and stern anchor out. It also seems that everyone's anchors are over top of each other and when the winds pipe up the anchors all seem to get tripped and this leads to boats drifting into each other and this equals stress!

The day that we were looking to leave was the craziest day ever. The boat next to us had just one fellow on board and the captain was in town and his boat was slowly drifting up on the boat ahead of them. His stern anchor had come unset and since he was just crew he didn't want to make any decisions if he didn't have to and we definitely didn't want to make any decisions for him. He was basically stranded though and didn't have a dinghy and after a couple of hours it became apparent that he better reset the stern anchor or else he would smack into the boat ahead. Graham and the kids went back over and got that anchor reset for him and headed back to continue readying Artemo.

About an hour later we look up and our friends boat in front of used named "AKKA" were drifting into a huge boat next to them. We could see the folks on the other boat using boat hooks to push them away. AKKA were off their boat on an island tour. We went over to see if there was anything we could do but as you can imagine the folks weren't to happy and aside from sit there with them, there wasn't much point to us sticking around. AKKA was safe enough, it was just a nuisance for the other folks.

We had decided that we would wait to leave until AKKA was reset since they were directly ahead of us. About the time that we see them get out of their taxi on shore, we see another boat come into the bay. We recognize the fellow as he was just anchored in the bay the day before. He is a very nice Spaniard. He comes into the crowded anchorage though and decides to bring his boat up in between Artemo and this French boat beside us. There couldn't of been more than 10 feet between us. I was in shock but figured he must know what he is doing, since he had been in the bay for a month before this. Just as he is directly in between us and only.....2 feet between him and the French boat, he drops his front anchor. He had already release his stern anchor. I am even more in SHOCK. He begins to go back and starts touching the boat next to him. The other fellow on board is trying to fend off the boat while also trying to bring in the stern anchor. MASS CHAOS!! Our dinghy engine motor is up at this point since we were getting ready to leave. In the midst of this the French couple come back to their boat and are LIVID. They are screaming at the guy. It must have been so scary for them. The boats were touching all over the place. Once he is behind them, he proceeds to plough into the back end of them. My stomach was in knots. The kids were holding onto fenders just in case he began coming our way. Once he is finished with the French boat he begins drifting into our other friends boat and they begin fending off and wondering what the heck is wrong with this fellow. Other cruisers are hopping in their dinghy's and trying to fend his boat off.

I realize through this all that he is going to have to come back up super close between us to pull up his anchor and I am so dreading it. We had our fenders over the side and he comes up and begins pulling up his anchor....BY HAND!!! He must not of had a windlass so it takes forever and the French folks have ZERO patience at this point. They are yelling "crazy captain" at him and he is pointing at his muscles and making the sign language of, "give me a second I am tired". There is a dinghy in between the French boat and him pushing him towards Artemo. There are the four of us ready and waiting for catastrophe on Artemo. Finally his anchor is up and he begins driving around looking for another spot. Thank Goodness!

During all this commotion AKKA is still being fended off in front of us. We can see our friends sitting on the dock at the shore. We didn't realize at the time that they couldn't see that AKKA was in danger. We begin flailing our arms around and pointing at their boat. Finally we get their attention and they race up to AKKA and get her safely reset.

We realized now that it was the time to "Get the heck out of Dodge", so a couple of cruisers offer to pull up our stern anchor and of course Murphy's law it was super set and sunk. They weren't able to bring it up. Graham gets into our dinghy at this point and rows back to it and begins heaving on it. He is putting so much muscle into it and leaning over the dinghy that the whole back end of the dingy comes up and almost flips! The kids and I are yelling at him from the back of the boat. Graham realizes that this isn't working and comes back to the boat and we decide that we have to let out more front anchor chain and then come back on the stern anchor and try and winch it up. Of course though....again Murphy law....the Spaniard is sitting behind us over our stern anchor. Graham yells back to him that we need to back up and we would like him to move while we do this. He was so funny. The fellow is smoking a cigarette and shrugs his shoulders and his body language is like, "you will be fine. Come on back." LOL. There is no way we are back up near him. His front anchor isn't down so we aren't sure why he won't just get out of the way for a minute and then he could have our spot? He finally gets out of his boat and into his dinghy and begins pushing his boat out of the way??? I still am not sure what was going on. We successfully back up and winch and winch and winch and finally success the anchor come free but unfortunately this means that we are now swinging. We leave the anchor hanging on the back and Graham races to the front and we begin bringing up the anchor. We drive within speaking distance of AKKA and finally I hear Graham say, "Ok the anchor is off the ground". Now I have to try and back up Artemo and not hit any stern anchor lines and drive the heck out of there! OIY.

We are finally free of the boats but there is still much work to do before we head out beyond the break wall. I proceed to try and hold our position while Graham and Alex bring up the anchor, remove the paddles on the dinghy, untie and store fenders and yada yada yada. Finally when all of this is done and I think my huge stomach ache of stress will subside we head out beyond the break wall to find HUGE swell and high winds :-). OMG at this point you just have to laugh. I guess the part that worried me was the dark squally sky and the fact that the lee shore was to close for my liking. LONG LONG story short we finally got around the island and the swell was were it should be...BEHIND US.....and I just felt like a good long cry! The last thing I felt like was our overnight sail to Nuka Hiva.

We called Gromit on the radio. They were anchored at a different island and were going to try and hook up with us at sea to sail overnight with us. They let us know that they were delayed but would love it if we would come over and anchor with them til they were ready the next morning. This sounded great to us. We both desperately needed our "happy hour". We arrived at their bay and it turns out that it is known as the most beautiful beach in Marquesas. It is wonderful. We have decided to skip Nuka Hiva and spend a couple of days here and then off to Tuomotos.

We had an amazing stress free day on the beach yesterday. We did "Survivor Marquesas" and set up a huge obstacle course and all ran it in teams and pronounced a winner. We had a potluck on the beach with all the other cruisers around. In total there were 9 kids. The kids woke up feeling so sore today from all the activity. It really was the perfect day. The water is crystal clear and there is an abundance of beautiful fish. We have all our work done (or at least the priority items) so we are just loving life right now! At this moment Graham, Mike and Cornelia are off to the little villi age on the island to see if they can get some fresh food and we would like some more propane. The boys are playing star fox on the wii and the girls are making oatmeal raisin cookies. The wind is blowing at about 20 knots, the sun is shinning and I am stress free!


  1. Getting a little cryptic there Julird.

  2. Man it sounded terrifying. I hate docking our small boat and find that stressful I couldnt imagine a sail boat on the ocean and idiot sailers not knowing what they are doing. Sure glad that worked out ok for you's. I could feel your tension...you are a great writer. Dell is here and she said you should write a boat of your adventures...I totally agree. I can just picture you all on that island with the clear water and the happy hour. Cheers!! Trese

  3. OK I was stressed out just reading this, and nice try with the perfect beach day and oatmeal cookies at the end. You have so destroyed my postcard idea of what sailing is. Call me crazy but I really need to be sure I wake up in the morning with my house still at the same address, and not worry about my neighbour's crashing into mine.

    Well us landlubbers here are putting up with the heat sans ocean. Rob is working crazy hours or so he says. We plan to do super exciting things like going to a movie but can't seem to get out the door. I end up cleaning out his closet and kitchen cupboards. I'm still using up the Perry coffee at my house... Jen