"Adventures" always seem to occur in clusters. God knows why.
It all started in Portsmouth, where a friend met me. We had planned to spend the night there, and then go sailing. But the weather
was so lovely, it seemed like a shame to stay in port. So we slipped and left and sailed off.
When I went to drop the anchor, the windlass
didn't work. It's a relay I have been fiddling with and must have hooked up wrong. But I didn't want us to miss our sundowners fiddling with it, so I decided to just throw out the Fortress
kedge. Calm weather
, a benign shore -- why not? And at the same time test its ability to reset in a tide change. As usual, the Fortress
set instantly and easily held a full power reverse pull. I put up an anchor ball and switched on the anchor light.
So we had our sundowners watching an excellent sunset, had dinner, watched a movie
(Argo), and went to bed
about 22:00. I set anchor alarms as usual and set the IPlod with INavX
next to my bed
About 02:00, the tide changed and the anchor alarm
went off. I couldn't tell whether the anchor was holding -- we had gone around in a loop -- never seen that before. Odd combination of tide and wind? I jumped out of my bunk and got dressed. But it seemed to be ok so I tried to go back to sleep -- but in my clothes. As I was drifting off, I heard an engine
, and loud music
very close and getting closer. I checked for an AIS
target -- nothing. I thought about firing up the radar
. Then I heard shouting. So I ran up on deck -- fishing
boat. His gear
is tangled in my anchor line. Great. "I couldn't see your anchor light way up there!" He said.
This is particularly nice since I don't have a working windlass
at the moment. So I untied the bitter end of the anchor rode
from its padeye in the anchor locker
and led it back to one of my big electric
sheet winches. Pulled it up with difficulty -- the fishing
boat is now also hanging from it, and the tide is running about 2 knots. But the big sheet winch
manages it, and there are the fisherman's lines.
I'm trying to figure out what to do with them, when the fisherman says -- just cut your anchor line. It's tangled in my gear, and I'll bring it back to you. Bullocks! That will be the last I ever see of that anchor, and besides that, we will be unanchored in a 2 knot
tide and can't start the engine
because of all the ropes in the water
. So instead I use the trick I learned when I got tangled in that electrical
cable in Finland
last summer -- got a line around the fisherman's lines, and lifted them. Then, I put a rolling hitch on my own anchor line, outboard
of the fisherman's lines. Made it off. Freed the bitter end of my anchor line, and led it through and free of the fisherman's lines. Then released his lines. Et voila!
But it was not to be so simple. A second big ugly steel
fishing boat has come to see what the trouble is. He is hovering nearby. He gets distracted (or something), doesn't realize he's in gear, and T-bones me with his razor-sharp, steel bow, with a huge crash. F***!
I run below to check for water
ingress -- nothing. Thank you Moody for your Kevlar skin!
The fisherman has no insurance
. I feel for him, because he was only trying to help. He proposes to wait a week, and report the incident as if it happened a week from now. He'll take out insurance
in the meantime. He lets me know that he can't pay for it himself.
Between participating in insurance fraud and paying for it myself, I will take the honest way and pay for it myself, so I decline this option. But an inspection
reveals -- to my great surprise -- that the hull does not seem to be damaged at all. His raked bow apparently met not with the hull, but with my teak rail, and smashed it. But a piece of teak rail is not going to be tens of thousands. I looked at the hull from the inside -- not a mark. He hit me right at one of my massive through-bolted and fully tabbed bulkheads, which seems to have absorbed the impact.
I called my insurance company and reported the accident
-- just in case a crack in the hull -- God forbid -- or something like that is found later. Made a detailed log entry. Will meet the fisherman tomorrow to look over the damage.
1. Never, ever again, will I rely on a mast-top anchor light. I usually leave on some lights which I have which illuminate the salon
-- why, oh why, did I not do that this time?? I am back in my bunk, and I have my steaming light lit up besides the hull port lights. I would have left my deck light on, but it shines right in the forecabin where my friend is sleeping.
Now have to think of something better than the steaming light for next time.
2. Always wear a knife and know your bloody knots. All that rope
in the water, rushing tide, two fishing boats -- I was lucky it didn't turn out worse. I was lucky my knots didn't fail me, and that I did have my knife on my person. This could have been much, much worse.
3. Have good insurance. Shirt happens, not always your fault, and what if the guy destroys your boat and can't pay for it?
4. Just because a mariner is a professional, doesn't mean he has good seamanship.