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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

"Entertainment" while at sea

We awoke knowing the winds would kick up today.  We did not anticipate the entertainment value that was in store.

For breakfast we had bacon, with yogurt and homemade granola.  We continued our investigation of the HuntAKiller murder game we started a couple of days ago.  We got far enough that we ran out of steam and decided to crack open the solution.  We were oh so very very close.  We had most of it right.  But we did miss a few easter eggs buried in the documents.  Hours of fun!

10am – The wind kicks up.  Reports claim the wind will calm down at about 5pm.  We debate what to do, stay in Ostrich Bay or head for somewhere with a shorter fetch.  (Fetch = distance between nearest shore and your location.  Longer fetch means wind waves build up to be larger.  Wind can blow hard but the waves are small if you are close to the shore where the wind is coming from.)  We decide to sit in Ostrich Bay and see whether the wind calms down in the evening.  If not, we will head to Silverdale at the north end of Dyes Inlet where we know the fetch will be short.  Meanwhile we watch the wind waves kick up to about 2 feet.

11am - The first boat to start to drag anchor was B-squared.  Dave hopped in the skiff, and with Jim assisting in the launch, Dave headed over to see if he could assist.  Before he got half way over the occupants got the boat under control, pulled up their anchor and departed the bay.  Dave headed back to Apsaras, where he and Jim decided to pull up the skiff onto the arch in case we too drug anchor and needed to maneuver.  This turned out to be a bit tricky as the wind waves are now 2 to 3 feet.  Not dangerous, just annoying mostly.  They also moved the new generator up a bit on the transom to keep it clear of the splash.

Noon – We observe another sailboat, later identified at Ondine, drag anchor and start to fly down the bay.  No one is aboard her.  We debate.  Launch the dingy and try for a rescue?  Captain Dave decides that getting aboard her will be tough and we likely will have to break in as she is locked up.  Plus by the time we could do all that, she might be on the rocks, putting us at risk.  We go back and forth with no resolution.

Dave calls out a “PAN PAN” warning on the radio, identifying our location and the boat adrift in hopes that maybe someone near by knows the owner's location.  (The radiotelephony message PAN-PAN is the international standard urgency signal that someone aboard a boat, ship, aircraft, or other vehicle uses to declare that they have a situation that is urgent, but for the time being, does not pose an immediate danger to anyone's life or to the vessel itself.)  Momentarily the coast guard calls back for additional details including our Lat/Long position and the name of the boat which we didn’t yet have.  Dave explains our hesitation to launch our dingy in the rough conditions to go get them the name of the boat.  

A few minutes later a speed boat comes out of Oyster Bay, (bay just to the east of us) with 5 people aboard.  They speed up to the adrift sailboat and attempt to approach.  Several failed attempts.  The sailboat is bouncing around in the waves along with the skiff.  Non trivial to board a boat in these conditions. 


It took them several tries.  We think they finally just pushed the bow of the skiff up against the side of the sailboat.  Eventually they manage it and a woman and man board the sailboat.  The skiff takes off back to Oyster Bay.

Dave lets the coast guard know that there are now people aboard the adrift boat.  We observe the man pulling the anchor up by hand.  As in hand over hand - no winch.  He eventually gets the anchor back aboard.  We think things are now good.  Alas.  Not.

They drift down the bay, the man dumps the anchor back overboard and heads down below decks.  Um.  Well.  What the heck?  You are drifting down the bay and no one is on deck?  We continue to watch in wonder and horror.  We speculate endlessly about what might be happening?  Why would you toss the anchor back over and then be below deck?  Maybe the engine won’t start?  So your only hope is that the anchor catches?  No way did they put out enough rode for the anchor to hold in these conditions.

For those non sailors – the reason an anchor holds is that it sits flat on the bottom and digs in.  So you need LOTS of length of chain or rope out (called scope) so the anchor always is flat on the bottom.  In calm conditions this means you put out 5x your depth in scope at the hide tide mark.  So if you are in 10 feet of water at low tide, and the tide will rise another 10 feet, you need 20 feet x 5 = 100 feet of scope out in CALM conditions.  Best to double this in high winds.

So bottom line, we watch the sailboat put out like 20 feet of rope.  Then disappear below deck.  Um, yeah, not gonna hold.  They keep drifting.  Note in the picture how close they are to shore now.

Eventually they come back aboard deck and pull up the anchor again.  They power forward and come up the bay slowly.  Looking for another spot to anchor. 

We watch in horror and amazement as they start to drop anchor – squarely on top of where our anchor is located.   This is BAD.  VERY BAD.  If they drop anchor on top of our anchor line they can trip our anchor, and cause us to go adrift.  We are screaming and waving, “NOOOOOOOO”.  Dave hops on the boat’s PA system and blasts out “DO NOT ANCHOR THERE!”  The guy looks up as if seeing our boat for the first time.  Deer in the headlights look.  He hauls the anchor back aboard.  Fortunately having only dropped it a few feet.

The sailboat wanders around the bay as if looking for another place to anchor.  We are all like, “wow”.  Anchoring 101 says you come up behind another boat and drop your anchor at their stern.  That way as we all swing round on our anchors no one gets twisted up.  Alas, the sailboat now goes and drops anchor right in front of the only other boat in the bay (which is giant and has tons of room for lots of boats).  The other boat – a 46’ Nordhavn power boat.  As they let the chain/rope out, they start dropping back on the Nordhavn.  Now the Nordhavn occupants are out on deck waving off the sailboat, “nooooooo!!!!!”.  Ondine then pulls up anchor again.  Remember – hand over hand manually.  They anchor again in front of the Nordhavn.  They can’t catch and now drift down onto the Nordhavn.  We are watching helplessly thinking, “OMG they are going to collide!”

Miraculously Ondine flies past the Nordhavn.

Note that we can see that Odine has again set her anchor.  Again they reel it all back in.  Eventually, they get Odine anchored again in a somewhat sheltered part of the bay.  The skiff that brought the couple out to the boat comes back to pick them up.  This leads to much speculation – was the couple the owners of Odine?  Or were they just good Samaritans trying to save the boat?  They showed no competency with anchoring.  But they did seem to know the boat.  We may never know.

2pm – All this craziness has taken several hours.  Its past lunch.  So we prep some crostini’s with chive sour cream, smoked salmon, and capers.  With margaritas.  Because yeah, we all need margaritas by now.

Alas the craziness is not over.  It is now that we realize that the Nordhavn is also dragging anchor.  Likely Odine tripped their anchor when dragging past them.  Crap.  We hail them on the PA and the radio multiple times.  We managed to get their name – Carolina.  Alas multiple hail’s did not raise them.  We watch and debate at what point we would pull up anchor and head over and raise them on the PA when we can get closer.  Eventually the occupants show up on deck.  They are clearly now aware of the situation.

We watch as they pull up the anchor and head out of the bay.  We look around and realize we are the only ones left.  Hmmmm.  An omen?  We debate what to do.  Eventually we decide to pull up anchor and head across the bay to Silverdale where the fetch is short.

We find that we can only make 4 knots against the strong winds (we normally make 6 knots).  But we putz our way across the way.  Dave spots another boat potentially in trouble up ahead.  Its sideways to the wind (generally a clue that it’s adrift).  We discuss whether we need to effect a rescue.

Captain Dave instructs Melissa and Jim on how to rig a bridle and put it through the anti-chafe on the aft deck to ensure the tow ropes don’t cut through the deck with the force and abrasion.  (Dave and Melissa rigged the anti-chafe originally to ensure we could rig a sea anchor safely.  But works well for towing too.)  Melissa grabs the harness/life jackets for her and Jim as we will not be out on deck while working on a tow without safety gear.  Melissa reminds Margaret to “take pictures!”.

We approach the adrift boat.  They start to honk at us.  “WHAT?!”  They power up and pull away.  What the heck were they doing drifting down the bay in these conditions?  No fishing gear out.  But clear they thought we were going to run into them!  Oh well.  No rescue today.

When we get to Silverdale and the wind is still blowing pretty hard.  We put out 200 feet of chain.  The tide is relatively low – about 20 feet so we have out 10:1 scope.  Fine for now, but when the tide comes up 10 feet, Dave wants out even more.  This means we have to put out part of the additional 100 foot of rope which is tied to the 200 feet of chain.  No biggie except that Melissa broke the brake on the windlass last month and without the brake there is nothing to stop the rope from just whizzing right out of the winch.  Fortunately the spare part arrived and Jim and Melissa were able to quickly put the new brake on.  Dave then put out another 50 feet of rope.  We are going nowhere!


Jim and Melissa then get to cooking up dinner.  First an appetizer with the last of the oysters.  Then Jim made meatballs, while Melissa started on the alfredo sauce and pasta to go with it.  A few sauteed beet greens to go along side!

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