Monday, July 10, 2006

Dragging Anchor in St. Maarten Lagoon

In the past month or so, we have had many, many boats drag by us. Fortunately, they drag past without incident but we did have one close call in June...

I heard a buzzing noise that sort of sounded like a bug outside... Like a large moth buzzing about a light? I didn't want to see a bug, but I looked outside and there was a boat about a foot away from us! We were in the same spot but this boat was dragging its anchor. (The noise was from a bit of plastic electricians tape that was around one of his stays as a telltale). Fortunately it didn't hit us and it didn't pull up our anchor with his as he passed in front of us. We jumped in the dinghy to get its name to make an announcement on the VHF. We had just zipped around the back of it when the owner came back. We told him his boat was dragging and he asked if it was OK now (like we had reanchored for him). I said no, look it's heading off that way! We went back onto our boat and Bob noticed that when the guy pulled up his anchor that he didn't have much chain out. Some people don't understand and think that if the water is 10 feet deep that you only need to put out 10 feet of chain. Well, some people do get away with it!

This week, we were awakened at 2am when a 40-foot catamaran decided to re-anchor next to us after their episode of dragging. It's amazing at how much distance you can cover in a little amount of time... especially when the rocky shore or pristine yacht is rapidly get nearer... I wonder if there is a mathematical equation for this? I bet the guy on Numb3rs could concoct one :)

Yesterday though, we had a different situation... I heard a dog barking and then a bit later I heard it woofing again. I thought it was someone taking their dog ashore for walkies and back but a couple of hours later when we were going to dinghy over for a Chinese lunch, we noticed a big old French ferrocement sailboat in front of us. That is where the dog was barking from. His anchor was up but he was obviously aground. We watched him for a bit but he wasn't able to move. We stopped by and asked if there was anything we could do to help but he said no, he'd wait for the tide. Hopefully the water would rise by a foot sometime and that should be enough for him. His boat draws 9 feet. How can you live in the Caribbean and have a boat that draws 9 feet? It would really limit you. We are about 4.5 feet and that seems like a lot to us because the Mooses were 12" and 16" with their boards up. Anyway, at about 4:30pm he was able to leave. Hope he made it over to wherever he wanted to get to on the French side. Guess he just learns to be patient.

Lots of sailboats get stuck when they are heading over to the Island Water World gas dock or FKG. They usually seem to try to push through, when it seems to me that they should try to back off the way they came... but that's just me :)

Anyway, be warned: the holding is not great in the Simpson Bay Lagoon (we know personally, but we're not going there!) and you'll probably find a big ball of vegetation on your anchor when you pull it up. Watch your depth sounder, too!

All the best & safe sailing!