Were normally better than this

Written by David Townsend

22, October 2006

Position 13°00’133N 061°14’64W

At anchor, Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth, Bequia, The Grenadines.

Hi dear friends, thank you for following my journey. Here is this week’s update.

It is always nice to have visitors, for the next few weeks a good friend of mine, Jennifer will be onboard. For those who monitor my position via win link ( www.winlink.org then type in call sign g0wva) will have noticed I am doubling back on myself slightly. That is because around here there are some of the most wonderful beaches and so I though it would be nice to just take our time and explore the area before once again moving North.

Life onboard:
I found this absolutely amazing anchorage off Canouan Island, right on the North tip under Mont Royal. Off the beaten track Pinta was the only vessel there with crystal clear seas with golden sand which, once walked upon your foot sunk 5 – 8CM into a very fine powdered sand.

As the hurricane season slowly nears towards an end so more and more charter boats have started to appear, this however brings with it unwanted problems and worries. Back in Clifton on Union Island Pinta had a narrow escape.

A very large and expensive ($500,000) charter cat came around the back of the reef and anchored, well I say anchored because many people out here believe that this magical device know to most as an anchor, once dropped will mysteriously and without knowing how much chain they have out will dig itself into the sea bed and stay there regardless.

This was however not to be the case, they decided to anchor, sorry I should say deploy this magical holding device only a few hundred metres off our Port bow, slightly to Port but directly ahead of SV Liberty. I met the owners of SV Liberty (for those who visited while I was in Trinidad it was the American vessel anchored not far from us) while in Trinidad and once again in Grenada however while all this was starting to happen they were at the airport clearing Immigration and Customs.

So, as I was saying the magical holding device was dropped and chain let out, judging by the angle I would say just enough to hit the bottom and that was about it. I was explaining to Jennifer that they had not put enough chain, showing her the angle their chain was at compared to most other vessels here when I could see a squall approaching, as it did so I could see the anchor was not bedded in, with just one bounce the cat was off. Off drifting towards SV Liberty, as she started to do so the skipper (which there appeared to be more off than crew) all started doing this new fangled dance which is getting quite popular out here, a cross between punk rock and shear panic. I have been trying to think up a name for it so any suggestions are welcome. Email away.

Once started it would appear this dance carries on until all is calm, they then motor bye saying ‘we can do better than this’, em.

Anyway back to this cat, as all onboard performed this dance one of the skippers decided it would be a good idea to put the engines full ahead, the wheel hard to Port and all this with the magical holding device still deployed.

Foreseeing what was about to happen I stared Pinta’s engine, made an emergency recovery of my anchor and got the hell out of their way for should what I predict happen not actually happen Pinta would be next in line.

Well you can probably guess what happened next, yes the magical holding device did hold but to SV Liberty’s anchor chain, this combined with winds now building up to 20kn then 35kn. As the cat tried to power to Port while the wind wanted her to go to Starboard, while there magical holding device wanted to ride up SV Liberty’s anchor chain all made for a nice mess to happen.

At nearly full speed and with their magical holding device riding quickly up SV Liberty’s anchor chain they swung around SV Liberty’s bow, in doing so they ran over their own chain finally ending up stern too on SV Liberty’s Starboard side.

For two hours with winds at a constant 35kn and visibility on a occasions down to only a few metres I held position under engine, head in to wind and in a very confined space between a reef on my Port side and two visible wrecks on my Starboard side some four hundred metres well out of the way but standing bye to assist once the winds died away.

Many locals with their boats went to assist, once sorted they tried to get the cat to moor to a buoy but it was impossible, with five skippers and one crew they had know idea what the hell they were doing. They were eventually put on a mooring buoy well out of the way of others, and yes as mentioned early their comments as they motored bye us after just being untangled, ‘were normally better than this’, ‘yes my dear I believe you I replied’ and left them to it.

I am a great believer in what comes around goes around, what do I mean by that. Well in the above example, as boats enter the anchorage area locals come out and ask, ‘do you want a mooring, ‘do you want diesel’, ‘water’ etc. On this cat as they came in a women, before even the local had said anything blasted out’ get away, we don’t want anything’. Now you may be forgiven for thinking that was not very nice, what was more annoying was once rescued those onboard refused to pay any money over to all the locals who rescued their butts. What would have coast them to take them all out for a meal, some drinks, $200. Not much when you think about and what about the good will that then goes with that.

As the some of the locals where still around we (Pinta) gave them a big applause, called them over and gave them all a beer, it was the least a fellow traveller upon the sea could do. A good saying which I always life by is that, ‘Next time it might you’.

Today, Sunday myself, an American and German girls walked to ‘Moon House’, these are unique to Bequia. They are stone houses build on hills around from the Port, they have no doors or windows. The houses are all open, the contents are locked away. The owners arrive in November, clean and unpack everything, they then stay there until July. You cannot buy these houses but if you could they would be valued at over $1,000,000

The Boat:
It was an interesting start to the week for Pinta; just after sending last weeks update I fitted a refilled gas (butane) bottle. When I went to light the gas ring on the stove the whole stove caught alight.

After shutting off the supply at the emergency shut off switch I went to check the bottles when the next thing happened. The hose pipe blow off one of the fittings near the bottle, I was unable to shut the leaking gas off.

After letting it vent for a while I managed to remove the bottle so stopping the leak, It would appear that the local top up service had over pressurised the bottle causing the regulator to fail. On the ‘Camping Gas’ system the shut off switch is built into the regulator so there for I was unable to shut the supply off.

A few hours later after making sure all the gas had been vented I removed the ‘Camping Gas’ system from Pinta and so will just now use the British system.

Fair winds and calm seas.