Selasa, 27 Januari 2009

Shroud Cay Harbor

After our first day at Shroud Cay, we moved around the corner into what's called "Shroud Cay Harbor". It's only large enough for 1 boat. You might call it a lagoon. It was very pretty, and we had our own little private beach:

Our own little beach where we hung out for two days:

After hanging out on the beach all of the first day, we came back to the boat and had a great dinner of Chicken Alfredo. Canned chicken, and powered milk to make the sauce, but it was good to me! Then we watched a few episodes of Arrested Development and went to bed.

I fell asleep fast, and slept hard. I was excited to get a good nights rest without the annoying ocean swell rocking the boat. Suddenly I woke to a loud CRASH. It was a pizza pan with some other dishes on top of it. I’m so used to things crashing at this point, so I didn’t really think much of it at first. I got up to pick up the mess, and noticed the boat had a slight tilt to it. The scenario was quickly unfolding before my tired eyes. The tide was falling and we were aground.

The optimist that I am, I thought “I’m sure the tide is low, this is probably as bad as it will get” … wrong. First I scanned the shoreline with our big flashlight. I could tell it wasn’t low tide yet, but I still clung to a hope. I checked our chart book for the tide, low was at 1:15 AM in Nassau. It 10:40 PM, and we were 30 miles east of Nassau. I didn’t know if that meant our low tide would be sooner, or later than 1:15. All I did know was that it was going to get worse before it got better.

It’s amazing how fast a tide falls.

We were already heeled over to 12 degrees. It seemed like only moment later we were at 15. Time passed, and the boat laid further and further to it’s side, drawers are falling open, plates falling on the floor. I didn't bother to clean any of this up. there was no point.

It’s very difficult to navigate a boat that is heeled over that far. I crawled around practically sideways like I was playing in a jungle gym. There was no walking. There was a strange gravity effect. Or maybe it was a trick of the eyes. But I felt a pressure in my head and I started to get a headache.

At 2:31 AM and the boat settled in at 28 degrees. It’s not really possible to sit, I’m always sort of laying down. LeeAnn is wedged against the wall trying to sleep. The water is just to the rail of the boat, and I’m hoping that we are at slack tide. There is no way I will be able to sleep before the boat starts to rise again. The waves are lapping against the hull which sounds unnervingly like the bubble sound a sinking boat might make.

I’m sad, because we had a perfect day. It was beautiful, everything a postcard tells you it should be. We found that dreamy, commercial land fairytale place. Unfortunately fate had to remind us that perhaps we were a little too lucky. Perhaps people shouldn’t be so carefree and happy. Life must be balanced by highs and lows. And thus our current situation.

I’m also sad because I think this means we will be leaving here tomorrow. That is unfortunate because high tide is around 8:00 AM, so we will have to leave early, and I’m also sad because that means we will be back out in the ocean swells and I’m again lost on my good nights sleep!

Again, you can’t have the sweet, with out the sour. Damn.

Well, I’m off to go make sure the boat isn’t sinking.

(we ended up staying in shroud cay harbor an extra day. The following is from my journal from the morning we left)

1-26-09 8:17 PM

We left the little harbor of Shroud Cay today, but we weren’t allowed to leave without a fight. I started to pull up the anchors around 8:00 AM, just before high tide. The wind was blowing from the North West which would push us right out of the narrow entrance, so I decided I would challenge myself by sailing out of the anchorage.

I raised the main, then pulled in the anchor. As soon as we were free I rushed back to the helm. The wind had already decided that we would be turning to port, so I put the wheel hard over to port to assist. We didn’t gain enough speed to complete the turn fast enough, and I felt the boat slide into shallow sand bank. “shit” I thought.

The stern of the boat was still floating, and I tried a few different sail combinations with the hope that I could use the wind to push us off. We didn’t move a bit. I called inside to LeeAnn for help. We pulled the main sail in tight to the center of the boat and started jumping up and down on the side of the boat to help it heel over as far as possible. The more we heeled the boat, the less water it would take to make it float. Despite our jumping, the boat wasn’t moving. It became obvious that we weren’t going to be going anywhere with out getting more serious.

I put the anchor in the dinghy and brought it across to the opposite side of the anchorage. Once back on the boat, LeeAnn and I started to pull in the anchor line with the hope that it we would pull ourselves off the ground. We wrapped the anchor line around the cleat once, and LeeAnn held the line while I pulled it straight up from the deck as far and hard as I could. Then I would drop the line and LeeAnn would pull in the slack as fast as should could. The motion was a lot like the big saws the lumberjacks used to use to cut down trees. Back and forth, I would pull, let go, she would pull. We worked in tandem like this for a few minutes, until we could pull the line no tighter. We weren’t moving.

We tied off the anchor line, and dropped another anchor off the stern of the boat and repeated the same process. Still no luck, both of us were getting panicky. The window of high tide was closing. If we did not get the boat off the ground we would be stuck until the next high tide which was about 12 hours away. Not to mention the boat would probably be laying on it’s side by low tide considering our previous nights experience when we weren’t hard aground and we’d nearly put the rail of the boat under the water.

Onto the last hope: We brought an anchor line to the top of the mast and pulled the line as tight as we could to pull the boat onto it’s side as far as possible. Then we put the engine on full blast in reverse, and I got into the dinghy with yet another line to help pull the boat to deeper water. Nothing, nothing, we couldn’t gain an inch. I was running out of ideas. What else could we do?

Luckily, when all hope seemed lost, another dinghy arrived, and with their larger engine we managed to get the boat floating again. Then we had the issue of dinghies floating around with lines tide to them, a line going to the top of our mast, and two anchors set. We couldn’t use our engine because of all the ropes in the water, and now we were drifting not only towards another sandbar, but also a large piece of coral.

Somehow we stopped the boat, very close to the coral, but stopped for the moment. We used the dinghies to get the anchors that had be dropped in shallow water, then as we left the anchorage. We saw a big eagle ray on our way out too!

We sailed to Black Point settlement. The first half of the sail was great. We made 6 knots easy. The wind picked up a bit much for comfort later in the day, but we were only traveling 25 miles so it wasn’t long before we were safe in a new anchorage.

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