Anchoring Woes

What a palaver, we went ashore this morning (Monday), and checked out with Customs, Immigration and the Harbour Master. That all went well, but took a an hour or so of waiting in offices while officers ‘typed’ (on a typewriter) our clearance papers. For my kids, you can google typewriter, it’s like a computer and printer in one, but it doesn’t crash as much.

We did a bit more provisioning as we won’t see any shops now for over a week, maybe two. Then back to the boat to prepare to leave. We are going to a big waterfall that cascades down towards the beach and provides a good display from the anchorage, or so we read. It’s rained heavy here today and yesterday, in fact I got into the water collecting mode yesterday and managed to fill two 30 litre jugs with rain water, so the water fall should be on full form.
So up with the anchor,  and away, well that was the plan, I had 60m of chain and 30m of rope out, as we had anchored in 24m of water, but we had fallen back to a spot over the reef, which is very rocky, and only 8m deep. consequently as we had been swinging around for several days, and going from 30 knt gusts to flat calm nights, the rope had wrapped around the rocks. We couldn’t do anything, the rock was in about 15m of water and I couldn’t see it from the deck, or when I went snorkeling. I tried motoring around the point but we were stuck. Also at this point I was close to a catamaran in front of us. Thankfully their skipper was a diver and after I pleaded for his help, he was happy to oblige, but had to go ashore and would do it tomorrow. That was fine, we were checked out, and tomorrow we would be illegals, but I don’t think anyone will mind under the circumstances. I sat down to chill for the rest of the day, looking at our position on the GPS I understood now why we hadn’t moved very much over the recent squalls, as we are pinned to this rock.
About 4PM our neighbour knocked on our boat and said he would do it now, so we leaped into action, it took 4 or 5 dives before he got the rope clear, but pulling up the chain brought us right up to his boat, he was lying over our chain. His wife motored forward, so we decided to get the whole thing up and re anchor, but by now it was 5pm and the sun would set in an hour.  It was too late to get to the waterfall now, that requires very careful eyeball navigation between reefs to get into the bay. So we motored into a bay next to the town here, we had met some Americans on a large powerboat out of Singapore who had motored in the bay, they said it was great, and we had good charts, so off we went, just 20 mins away.
We found a spot in between the reefs, that should have been good and dropped our anchor, as soon as we tried to back down on it, I felt the crunching of anchor skipping over rock through the chain. Without further ado, Kathy headed to the chain locker to flake chain, while I started to winch up. Imagine my joy after just a few metres of chain coming in, the winch ground to a halt with the chain ever so taut. I had managed to somehow wrap the chain around a rock again. I released the chain a bit and motored around, then  tried again, this time the chain broke free with a loud twang/shudder which Kathy felt below. I had to repeat this 2 more times before we got the anchor free again. By now we were both feeling with the score at rocks 2: Sister Midnight 0: the rocks had the upper hand on us, and we left that bay. Now we only had 20 minutes left before sunset, and anchoring in the dark was not something we wanted to do. We raced back to Tarempa town and started all over again, fortunately, we found a spot well out of town, where we had once anchored before and held well, this seemed to work ok, we have 50 meters of chain out in 16m of water, not much of a scope but it’s holding well. The weather is supposed to be calming down now and tomorrow should be another baking hot day.
Before all of this fun, we took some pictures walking around the back of Tarempa town, which seems a little more upmarket.

Self contained street lighting, that doesent seem to work if it’s cloudy in the day

Paul Collister


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