Anchoring girl being an easy job?
After a quiet first night at anchor in Trapani with a slight breeze of 10 knots, we thought it was safe to leave the boat on her own and take our little dinghy out for a spin into town. You may think, big deal! Yes indeed, as it was a first time for us to leave our Ocean Deva behind and go into town (until now we were always moored up in a marina).
Our old neighbours from Calgiari gave us the golden tip of where to park our dinghy and off we went.
After 3 hours roaming the streets of Trapani (actually, a very lovely old town), Peter suddenly commented that he thought we should go back now. I was slightly confused and asked him: “Why?”. Well, he said, it’s been quite a while now that the boat is on her own.
Pfff…my blood pressure went up and I was dying to get back to our Ocean Deva. Hopping back into the dinghy, Peter spotted our mast immediately and the happy hormones flowed once more through my body!
The weather forecast for the afternoon and the next 48 hours was not going to be kind. With winds of 22+ knots + gusts. Ten sailing boats were all snuggled up together. Quite honestly, I could have done with a few less.
Finally asleep, the first alarm went off: low battery of the music system … I got up, connected it to a charging cable and went back to sleep. Two hours later, alarm number 2 went off: low battery of the battery bank (still trying to change this low alarm setting …grrrr…).
As all good things come in threes and alarm number 3 went off. The one that we don’t really want to hear: the anchor alarm. It was set at 73 meters. This means that we have a diameter of 73 meters for the boat to move around with the wind.
Now some of you may know that since we have started anchoring last month, I don’t only sleep with my husband, but also with my new best friend: my boating app on my phone. Every time when I open one of my eye lids, I lift up my phone to see if the boat is more or less at the same spot. So, while jumping out of bed, I checked my phone. Yes, we had moved outside of our radius, but only just. Hence, I re-set the alarm at 80 meters and went back to bed.
At around 04:30 in the morning we heard the sound of an engine and anchor chain being lifted… Yep, a boat close to us had slipped and their anchor started dragging. It wasn’t us, so back to bed for another hour :)
In the morning the wind was relentless and got stronger and stronger. You could see that all boats were struggling to keep a good hold in the mud. A number of boats had decided to lift their anchors and were re-positioning themselves. Although we were not dragging, we were very gently moving or slipping and we weren’t comfortable how things were going.
Time for the anchor girl to get into action. We had 40 meters of anchor chain out and as our neighbours had also slid slightly, they were close, very very close, to our anchor. Breath in…breath out… Anchor up without running into our friend’s boat and finding another safe spot. The first one didn’t work out and we made another loop around the other boats to see where was best. Yep, we found the next perfect spot. Behind the guys that dragged their anchor this morning. All happy, but vigilant!
At the end of the afternoon an Italian charter boat with skipper and guests anchored their boat way too close to ours. No, no, I am not territorial at all. But hey, we have 40+ meter of anchor chain out and we knew that the wind was going to change direction during the night. So, Peter jumped in the dinghy and had a chat with the skipper. No problema…I have used 40 meters of chain as well, so all good.
The winds were now blowing at a significant 18 knots with gusts up to 26-28 knots. After a little calm at around two o’clock in the night the wind changed 180 degrees after which it picked up straight away. I could feel the change of movement and got up immediately to see how much space there was between the Italian charter boat and us. Guess??? No more than three meters, with the skipper asleep in the cockpit.
PETER!!! Peter ran up the steps, engine on, snubber off and the anchor up. With both of us wearing our head lights plus the deck lights on, we had to find the anchor. As the French boat in front of us (the one that dragged 24 hours earlier) had slowly slipped again our anchor was next to their boat. Obviously, the whole family was up and enjoying the show from their cockpit. We sort of rammed their dinghy, but no harm was done and we made a big loop, talked our strategy through and in the dark of the night we found our new anchoring spot.
After the job was well executed, we enjoyed a cup of tea and some digestive biscuits. This time we had front row position and could enjoy the show of 5 other boats slipping and having to re-position their boats.
The wind is still blowing 20 knots, but for tonight a calm night is forecast and we are looking forward to less challenging night - and time for a spot of fishing.
Interestingly enough the skipper of the Italian charter boat came to see us this morning. He had a small problem of a flat battery and wondered if I could help as he was unable to start his engine (a very comforting thought on a dangerous night when many boats came adrift with slipping anchors and our almost collision).
From back in the desert days, we have a small Power Bank, like you use to keep your phone alive when its batteries have run out – except this is to start an off-road truck. Well, it had not been put to good use and re-charged for over a year and so the first attempt at starting his engine was unsuccessful. Returning to our boat, we put the power bank on charge and saw that it was down to its last 20%, no wonder it did not work.
Three hours later we tried again; power bank to starter battery and a weak cough and splutter from the diesel engine. After several attempts I though the power bank must be almost dead again and I was about to give up hope. One more try, I said. Cough, cough, splutter, cough and rum, rum, rum. A cheer from the Italian charterers – like an Italian goal. They were back in action - and safe again. International Rescue and Thunderbirds live on (for those of you old enough to remember).
I avoided being kissed by the almost desperate skipper and declined glasses of wine and beer at 10.30 in the morning – we are in Italy !
However, I did say that at our next anchorage we would join them for sundowners.
Our crazy anchoring track of the last 2,5 days... (The red line)
Left hand top: we were sliding and looked for another spot at day time
Below this area: anchoring for the first day before slipping
Right hand top: lots of swinging from one end to the other
The small black boat: is our current anchoring spot; seems to hold well