Big bump in the night…

We made it to Eleuthera safe and sound on Monday January 16, 2017, the swells were anywhere from 5 to 8 feet and it was a bit uncomfortable for our liking but we made it across with 14 other sailboats. The flotilla was a beautiful sight once everyone made it through the Little Harbor Cut and got their sails raised. We’re actually in Spanish Wells which is the first main island in Northern Eleuthera. We haven’t seen much else but we have become VERY familiar with Spanish Wells. (hence the title – will explain more below, it’s a bit long but exciting and scary 😕)

Once across the Atlantic we split up some but there was a big weather system coming so those of us who stayed began making plans to ride out the expected weather front from a couple different anchorages, moorings or the marina. We decided to head down to Royal Island where there is nearly full coverage all around. After a few nights anchored at Meeks Patch or right outside the Spanish Wells channel we pulled into Royal Island on Thursday morning (1/19/17) and found 4 other boats there. It’s a small anchorage but can hold around 10 boats or so on either end of the anchorage. Our sailboat has a fairly shallow draft at 4.5 ft so we were able to tuck into the southwest corner in front of all the other boats. By Saturday there were 9 boats total and everyone appeared to have plenty of room to swing for the expected strong winds predicted for Sunday, to include 2 Catamarans who anchored in front of us (with 3ft draft they can go almost anywhere). As usual we watch other boats as they come in, check out their “hardware” to include anchor, chain, length of boat and of course the boat owners themselves. The boat behind us came over and introduced themselves from s/v Mahi, Joe, Karla and their 5 yr old grandson Eathan from California. Earlier on Saturday s/v Mahi noticed their anchor was dragging some so before the weather system hit they wanted to reset and secure themselves. We watched and noticed they had a lot of chain and a Rocna anchor which is very similar to our Mantus that we love so much. Mahi got reset and we all settled down for a quite night. Well the weather is only a prediction and we had some high winds come in on Saturday night but only gusts in the high 20s so nothing too uncomfortable and everyone held with no issues through the precursor weather front headed our way. As predicted the main weather system we were all anticipating hit on Sunday and Sunday night was a doozy! The wind prediction was to be high winds of 40 knots with gusts of 60 knots. That’s a lot of wind and when you’re in a sailboat expect swinging and yanking and a ton of noises as the boat creaks and cracks and the anchor pops as it swings from side to side. No one was getting sleep on Sunday night because of the noise and mainly because you’re watching out for your boat and others. Jeff and I had actually laid in bed after our regular checks and around 1 am there’s this huge crashing sound and our boat yanks much harder than just wind. It actually sounded and felt like we hit a rock wall. We were up and out of the bed in nothing flat as we thought our anchor rode broke and we must have hit the rocks or something. As Jeff made it outside he sees another sailboat backing away from us and he hollers “is everyone ok?” They holler back “sorry!” Well we grab flashlights and attempt to assess the situation in the pitch black of night and realize we were hit hard by that boat. After a quick inspection we realize the port side of our boat was t-boned by s/v Mahi and our lifelines and stanchions were bent, ripped out and mangled. Thank God there was no puncture through the hull and from what we could see mostly cosmetic damage to the fiberglass where their boat hit us. We secured the broken stanchion and kept a very watchful eye the remainder of the night.

Overall damage & temporary fix.

Stanchions damage and temporary welded fix.

Fiberglass damage

Karla emailed shortly after they finally got their anchor back down and apologized profusely, explained they started to drag and while attempting to reset their anchor they accidentally drove into the side of our boat and ensured they would take care of all damages. The wind was crazy and it was absolutely pitch black outside and it didn’t end there! While on watch we noticed they continued to drag but this time they were precariously close to the rock lined shore. As we were watching along with s/v Jalu, the sailboat behind Mahi, we both kept hailing them on the radio to ensure they knew just how close they were to the rocks. We both kept shining our spotlights in their boat and after about 10 minutes they hailed back explaining their second anchor appeared to be wrapped up around their chain and they couldn’t get the primary anchor up. They were basically stuck but facing the wrong direction. As we watched and assisted with lights we notice a 39ft Catamaran dragging right beside us probably less than 15 ft from us! We look at each other and say “ummm that’s not supposed to be there”. It was headed straight towards Mahi and the rocks. Thankfully they jumped into action and started their engines and got their anchor up and started driving forward. So here we are right in the middle of Mahi and Norval, the 39ft Catamaran, looking back and forth, back and forth trying to decide if we would need to start our engine and move to avoid either of them dragging or driving into us. This went on all night until the sun came up. Norval got reset, however they were way closer to us then we felt comfortable which was less than 50ft in front of us. Since Mahi was facing the other direction Jalu was in more danger from them than we were now. We just needed to keep a close eye on Norval to ensure they didn’t drag anymore and straight into us. Come to find out Mahi was truly wrapped on its secondary anchor with the rode not only wrapped around the primary anchor chain but now also around the shaft. Once daylight came Joe from Mahi was able to jump in and inspect the issue. With only snorkel gear he wasn’t able to cut anything away because he couldn’t stay down long enough. All throughout the evening/morning Mahi kept all of us who were listening over the radio up to date on their situation. If they were able to cut the other anchor they may have drug into any of the boats around so we all needed to be ready in case we needed to move quickly. The guys on Norval hailed Mahi and offered to dive in with dive equipment and assess the situation up close. Once they donned their dive gear, tanks and masks they dinghy’d over tied off on Mahi and jumped in. Keep in mind the wind was still whipping and the main weather front still hadn’t hit. Well at least the rain along with the higher gusts. After an hour or more Norval was able to reset Mahi’s primary anchor first before cutting the line on the secondary anchor and unwrapping all the excess line which allowed Mahi to finally turn and face the right direction. With winds gusting your boat needs to be facing into the wind while at anchor to allow it to move freely. As close as they were to the rocks that could have been catastrophic for them had they not got turned around properly. Out of the 9 boats anchored in Royal Island 1 dinghy flipped, 1 dinghy floated away but was retrieved, 7 boats dragged, us and Jalu were the 2 that did not drag. By Gods grace and protection there was minor damage to our boat and everyone came out fairly unscathed. Once the weather calmed enough we spoke with Joe & Karla on Mahi and as they had already agreed to cover the damages we were headed back to Spanish Wells on Tuesday to begin securing resources and quotes for the damages s/v Delayed Gratification sustained {sigh}. Joe & Karla came to the marina on Wednesday and as Jeff and I have walked all of Spanish Wells 10 times over we were able to find someone to weld our stanchions back together, it’s just a temporary fix but it will hold until the new stanchions and lifelines are shipped to Georgetown Exumas hopefully within the next couple of weeks. The fiberglass work can be done here, however the work can’t start until end of next week or beginning of the next. We really don’t want to sit around waiting so we may take payment and get it done later possibly in Georgetown. Joe & Karla have been so gracious to ensure we will get the boat fixed to our satisfaction. We are grateful to have met such kind people and know we will remain friends for years.

A new motto!

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen several of the boats from the flotilla that crossed to Eleuthera together and have been surprised how news travels so fast. Mostly everyone has already started making their way south and we hope we can head that way by middle of this week. As always, thank you all who continue to pray for us, we do not take it for granted and know how important it is to trust and know God is always in control! 😘🙏🏼

2 thoughts on “Big bump in the night…

  1. Thank you, Cristol, for this very succinct remembrance of your scary experience at Royal Island. This will be one of the stories for your memoirs someday – or maybe a submission to Cruising Outpost magazine – they like photos with the stories and your whole story would be a good read ( though not fun for you to experience) – I wrote 2 that were published (got $75 for each one).
    Over our years of boating, we have had many nights and days of similar terror – if you cruise enough, weather and other stuff happens. But lifelong friendships result after such experiences.
    You and Jeff and Delayed Gratification are in our Prayers for safe travels – every day.
    Anxious for photos of sailing the calm seas – and fun in Georgetown.
    Love from Dick and me and Bosley – s/v Gusto!!!

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