My Rhode Island family phoned us about their white-out snow storm while we were getting in a last grocery shop in Lake Worth, Florida. We were wearing shorts and sandals and getting ready for a very different kind of winter out in the Bahamas.
It was calm that Friday night and gentle on Saturday so the seas lay down in the Gulf Stream making it look inviting. We found mild and sweet conditions in the late afternoon as we motored out through the jetty passing fishermen hauling in a fine catch at sunset. Motoring for the first little while in the moonlight, we got some snacks going for later and Nev and I started to take turns sleeping. Then the wind came very gently from the south about 1/3 the way across the Stream. First the jib went up, then the main, and finally we shut off and lifted both engines for the last half of the Gulf Stream crossing. Ahhh, what a pretty sound the water makes! Soon we were up on the Bahama banks sailing in 8 to 12 feet of such clear water it appeared to glow with moonlight reflected off the brilliantly white, sandy bottom. You could count the starfish.
Peace maintained a relaxed 6 knots over the banks with only the jib and main doing about half of her potential speed so we could day dream. It was relaxing, and we had enough time before the expected strong weather front would pass through.
I was just turning my head to check for other boats, when a shadow dashed past us on the port side. It made me jump at first, and then I saw that it was a huge bird with a white head circling and circling trying to find a place to land for a free ride. He appeared to be an eagle but I was reluctant to frighten or blind him with my flashlight because he might have been near exhaustion so far from land. He kept trying to land on the wind generator which was off at the time, but it kept dumping him. Again and again he tried, and we softly suggested that several other locations aboard were available. With huge wings brushing the still wind vane blades, he persisted for over an hour. Later, he spent a while on our foredeck for a nap (and impressive poop) before taking again to the air and our best wishes went with him out across the water. We often get little land birdies as short term passengers on Peace, but this one had an enormous wing span. His profile was hawk like for sure.
In the glorious dawn, Great Sale Cay rose up with its meagre but most welcome shelter. We could see the weather front arriving from the west behind us as we went into the shallows and dropped the new 66 pound spade anchor into white sand. It held in 25+ knots of north west wind as we had a good breakfast, cuppa tea, and took a nap. Peace never noticed the waves that curved around into the anchorage causing the monohulls to roll.
The new anchor and new chain make us laugh each time we use them. Never before have we done so much laughing at anchor time. Usually we called it anchoring frenzy and there were dirty looks or grumpy noises and a few resettings when it failed to hold. Now we select where to drop it, do the drop, back, and laugh. Big, silly smiles all over our faces!
MAJOR DISCOVERY RE THE SAILS! Sometimes the best thing you can do for your boat takes only ten minutes and costs nothing! Nev and I have been moaning and complaining about how hard it is to raise and lower the main and foremain sails on this boat. From the first day, it has been hard work with Nev sometimes using all his strength and both feet off the deck to pull the wet sails down in a sudden rain squall. We had thought we needed to change sails or make drastic cuts in the leading edge of the sails to remove the soft wing pocket that is unique to this design and somewhat similar to a wind surfer sail. BUT BY SIMPLY REMOVING THE HALYARDS FROM THE LUFF POCKET, THE SAIL WENT UP AND DOWN EFFORTLESSLY.
So now, if any Tiki owner has their halyards still inside the luff pocket, GET THEM OUY OF THERE and enjoy the freedom and security of easily managed sails. Somebody in Britain, please phone Jeckells Sails and tell them to make this clear to their customers. Wharram Designs, are you listening? Our joy is to keep these fine sails now and enjoy their unique shape which we believe gives a superior lift to windward making our boat similar in performance to a normal monohull cruiser when sailing upwind. Most catamarans are not very good sailing to windward, so it is a big advantage to us that Peace can continue to do so. I plan to attempt singlehanding after Christmas when the weather permits. If it works, I will love this boat twice as much as before.
Christmas - What a drag! First it rained heavily so the cruiser's potluck was held wearing rain gear on the porch of the laundromat instead of out on the grass at the dive shop in the sunshine as in past years. Everybody came though and the food was excellent and spirits high so that was ok.
But during the night, our new anchor dragged and we found ourselves hard against a dock piling. Very quickly we were up, dressed, engines started and outa there. We had two anchors down in a safe location in less than 15 minutes start to finish and we were grateful to the neighbor boat when they shone a flashlight onto their own stern to help us find position in the dark.
Once we had a cuppa tea, we reviewed what lessons we could learn. Our new anchor was among the 6 of 12 boats which dragged so conditions were pretty rough, but we were partly at fault. We should have put out the second anchor before going to bed because the forecast was for 25 knots of wind. Although we thought about it, and even kept anchor watch for the first two hours, we did not do it and good intentions count for nothing. Also we should have searched for white sand to drop the anchor into on the first day we arrived or at least during later quiet weather when this would have been easy in the super clear water. It was wrong to trust the anchor in all that grass even thought it had held for ten days during some high winds. Nev took off a mound of grass clumps as we left that piling so grass was the problem.
In the old boat, when I used to single hand, I always used two anchors if there was more than 20 knots of wind. That was better practice. That should be the new safety rule for this boat too. At least the new anchor reset immediately so it still seems like a good anchor doing its best in difficult conditions.
Love, Ann and Nev
© Anne and Neville Clement, 2005