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Enough Excitement Already

Tuesday January 7, 2014

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The thrills of being anchored here in Isla Mujeres just keep coming. Our daily checks on passage weather showed another heavy front on it’s way, just a few days after the one that sent us dragging at anchor on Saturday. The forecast was very bad, showing winds sustaining at 35-40 knots through last night and into today. This time we weren’t going to take any chances, and we moved ourselves into the lagoon that has much more protection from the wind. At first we were worried that there may not even be room for us in there, due to shoals all around the edges and a channel running through the center, there isn’t space for more than 5-6 boats in total to comfortably anchor without the danger of possibly swinging into each other. As we motored in from the harbor we were pleased to find that only three other boats were anchored in this area, and we hoped that no more would be on their way.

After two attempts to get the anchor down in a decent spot that would also keep the party catamarans from yelling at us that we were in their channel (as what happened last time), we decided that a second anchor, Bahamian style, might not be a bad idea. We had approximately six hours until this blow was supposed to set in, and we didn’t want to be wishing as it was too late, that this was something we had done earlier. Shortly after we had gotten our spare fortress settled down a hundred feet from our Rocna, we were getting all the lines tight on the bow when we had a surprise visit. One of the people from another boat in the lagoon, Jargo, came by to say hi to us. He introduced himself as Lee, and it took us less than a half a second to notice something about him. He was a young cruiser! We thought those were becoming outmoded as we had not seen any new ones since Ana Bianca came on the scene in Guatemala. While talking for a moment he mentioned that he had already done a solo circumnavigation and now he was cruising part time with his girlfriend Amanda. We agreed that if we all got through that night’s storm that we’d have to go out for drinks sometime.

The remaining hours leading up to the storm were quite boring. I had just found a new series of books on my e-reader which were keeping me captive, and the hours on the clock ticked by so fast that I hadn’t even realized it had gotten dark out. Dinner was quick, I wanted to get back to my book, but I kept taking mental notes of the positions of the boats outside in the lagoon, memorizing the location of their anchor lights. Because of our Bahamian anchoring there was no swinging on our part, so it was very easy to keep tabs on the others. Every time I’d get up from my book I’d look out our deadlights and make sure nothing seemed out of place. One time, there was. A new anchor light.

I wasn’t sure if my eyes were playing tricks on me so I made sure to stick my head out the companionway to double check. I still couldn’t be sure since it looked as if it was on the other side of the channel and I didn’t know if I was confusing one of the previous anchor lights as something from the nearby marina. Grabbing a high powered flashlight and shinning it across the water, I confirmed that it was in fact a new boat. One that had come in in the dark. I wasn’t thrilled by this thought, but they seemed to be set, so I went back to my book. Every time I got up to refill my drink, use the head, or just generally torment (snuggle) Georgie, I’d glance outside. On my third or fourth check I noted that this new light seemed noticeably closer. Calling Matt up, he agreed that the boat did look like it was getting closer.

As I had mentioned in our last post, one of our bigger fears is not actually dragging ourselves, but others dragging into us. Putting on some warm coats, we flipped on the instruments as the wind was distinctly getting higher. It had sounded as if it was holding in the 20’s before, but now we were pretty sure it was getting into the 30’s. We watched from the cockpit, staying behind the shelter of the dodger, and watched as a flashlight kept running the length of the deck, making us thinking the person operating this other boat was a singlehander. It looked as if the person was trying to get their anchor up, but luckily, not getting any closer to us during this process. We watched intently as the light made rounds between the cockpit and the bow, and finally the boat was underway.

Now came the fun part. This person obviously had issues with their anchor dragging once tonight…where would they try and put it down a second time? The same spot? Which happened to be directly upwind of us. Yes, that is exactly what they tried. After 3-4 attempts of getting the anchor to stay put in that area and ultimately failing, the boater decided to start zooming around the anchorage at breakneck speeds, weaving around all the currently anchored boats and coming very close to some of them. We thought we heard a yell from our new friend Lee down on s/v Jargo, and we had a feeling he was outside watching this mess as well. Soon it became a game to try and spot this guy’s anchor light zipping through the anchorage, and then figure out what direction he was facing, and if he was trying to get his anchor down.

Honestly, we did feel bad for the guy. Even in this very protected lagoon, the winds were strong, holding in the mid 30’s, and I myself would not want to try anchoring in this midday, let alone in the dark. A few times I asked Matt if we should do anything to help him, but Matt remembered a French flag on this particular boat (we now remembered him from the main harbor), and didn’t think we could be of much assistance to him. He did finally set anchor down in front of us again, and after keeping an eye on him for the next 20 minutes to make sure he did not move an inch, we finally felt comfortable enough to go down below deck again. Being on high alert though, I kept checking out the deadlight every ten minutes to make sure he was staying put. He did not.

Just to make sure I was seeing things right, I climbed into the cockpit so I could get a firsthand view. Then I calmly called down the companionway to Matt, “I’m going to need you to put on your jacket and join me up here”. By the time he was up in the cockpit, this boat was 2/3rds closer than he was just moments before. We grabbed fenders out of the lazarette and prepared ourselves to run up front and fend him off. We were waiting for just the right moment so we didn’t have to face the brunt of these now 40 knot winds at the bow unless we knew if/when he would hit. Once more, right as he was getting too close for comfort, the engine kicked on high gear and he hightailed it out of there, realizing this was not a safe spot for him to anchor. 20 more minutes of anxious watching later, we watched him set his anchor down on the far side of the lagoon by the channel, far, far away from us. I really hope Isla doesn’t have any more of these high wind storms in store, I don’t think I can handle this constant excitement.

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One of our fenders marking our second anchor.

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Our other neighbors in the anchorage.

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This area was wide open, and we have no idea why.

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Georgie is ready to help in any way necessary.