We left Winyah Bay near Georgetown, South Carolina after a bit of a struggle getting up both anchors which had twizzled up as they so often do in areas of strong reversing tides. Nev looked really tired up there on deck with a dragged out posture that even strong men get when they have worked too hard. We again thought that we should use some savings to get us a much bigger anchor so only one anchor would hold us in these conditions. Our 44 pound spade and 100 feet of chain just cannot cope alone and the Fortress 55 does not reset in reversing tides. You need reliable anchors. As we headed out to sea, we talked about a 66 pound spade 200 feet of chain, and an electric windlass to lift it all. Hello Santa Claus! (Hello Visa Card!!)
Our trip south was just offshore in blustery 20 and 25 knots of wind gusting higher and waves 4 to 6 or 7 feet. It was cold Canadian air with frost warnings ashore and we were wearing winter clothing. We only had the little jib out and Peace hurried south seeking warmer latitudes. She surfed doing mostly 7 and 8 knots and once or twice she got a long ride doing 12 and even 14 knots under good control of the Monitor Windvane in association with a tiller pilot attached to Monitor's air paddle. The only problem was Neville. He was sick and in bed almost all of the time. He had a tummy ache.
Nev stayed in the pod bunk for all but three of the next 36 hours and I was real glad to be arriving in Fernandina through the easy St Mary's entrance before dark. We snuck along the shore to anchor behind Cumberland Island and Nev let the spade go out on 100 feet of chain in 12 feet of water. We had tea and toast and Nev made an egg sandwich and then headed over to use the toilet while I tidied up the galley. After a while, I wondered why he had not returned...
I found him on the floor just as he was regaining consciousness having passed out and been quite ill all over the place. He was covered in sweat and shaking as he awoke. I did not know where to start getting him tidied up, but eventually I had him in bed and his condition seemed to be stabilizing. I tossed the rugs outside on deck, and his clothing got piled up well aft. After another check on Nev, I thought I had better get the rugs down in the lower level of the foredeck so they would not blow overboard.
That is when I learned about the other trouble we had... The anchor was dragging! We had dragged about 300 feet and were about 10 feet from a rocky shore in the dark with a dragging anchor down that I was not going to be able to lift on my own. Nev certainly could not help me in his condition. I was in a real fix.
The outboards were still down and warm so I started them and motored clear of the shore but not too far because there was a sailboat not all that far away. I informed Nev generally of the situation and told him I intended to call the Coast Guard and he approved. I thought that one of the problems we could probably handle ok, but with both of the problems at the same time, I needed help.
It took more than an hour for the Coast Guard to get to us so I was busy keeping Peace away from the rocks, checking on Nev, and yacking with the Coast Guard guys who typically have too many questions on the radio that are not of immediate interest in times of emergency. I finally read our exact position VERY SLOWLY off the GPS, and told them I was too busy to chat any more and that I would not stand by the radio when I was needed at the bedside and at the helm and I was tired and grumpy about it too. They contacted Seatow (we are members) and arrived an hour later and stood by until the Seatow boat arrived about a half hour after that. The Coasties wanted to take Nev ashore, but I was reluctant to transfer him in the dark when he was so weak, did not think he needed hospital treatment, and we did not want to have the additional complication of him being out of touch and in one place and me in another. There is no road transport to Cumberland Island. I am a nurse and Nev ! wanted to stay aboard.
Seatow and the Coast Guard offered three options. Take us to a marina dock in Fernandina, try to find a mooring buoy maybe in Fernandina (unlikely in their opinion), or anchor us again nearby. We opted for re anchoring nearby. The Coasties left and Seatow tied alongside with his excellent responder boat and we used both engines in Peace and his boat engine to drive up current to a more sheltered anchorage. With Nev weak but directing him, the Seatow guy operated our windlasses and got us into a Bahamian moor using one anchor up tide and the other down tide each on 100 ft chain. We were grateful to be Seatow members so there was no charge for his otherwise well earned $950 services. When he left, we fell into bed.
Nev was better in the morning, but his tummy has not been quite right for almost two weeks now, so he is on a lite, bland diet and resting in bed. We will simply sit here until he is strong again. We both have great faith in the body's ability to heal itself when rested and fed reasonably with average healthy food. We have nothing against doctoring, but patience is pretty good too. And quiet bed rest feels so good when you are sick. You just lie there letting various thoughts drift through your head not caring much about anything. Folks bring tea and healthy food, and gradually you get better. So long as each day is a little better than the last, you are going in the right direction. Nev had a complete physical recently and was all fine, so we must assume he has had some kind of a bad tummy bug.
We spent the day phoning old distance cruising friends and getting ideas for easy anchor systems. The 66 pound spade is widely admired. 200 feet of 5/16 high tensile chain is recommended, and the Ideal windlass company got rave reviews. Nev has paper and pencil out this afternoon designing a windlass mount with enough fall for the chain and structural integrity to manage the pull. It will all be able to be used single handed from the helm, so neither of us will ever be helpless again in case of the other getting sick. One of us could raise anchor, move the boat to a safer location, and re anchor single handed. Easily.
You all please drive very carefully on those icy roads up north. We know how dangerous they are. Complete safety is hard to obtain whatever your lifestyle.
Love, Ann and Nev
© Anne and Neville Clement, 2005