A difficult week
So what defines a difficult week?
Well, let’s start with a description of what’s been happening around here at The Dream.
1 - We arrived in Procida island, the pilot book said the anchorage had a sand bottom so we found a spot, the possible spot for such big yacht in the middle of the crowded place, we dropped the anchor, I dived to double check that we were correctly anchored and all was good. We just needed to wait for the end of the day to be able to move to a more protected spot once the crowd of little power boats started to thin out.
Later in the day we moved further and repeated the entire anchoring business but the moment I entered the water to check the anchor I saw we were on top of a massive boulder rock that would be a serious problem on our chain, anchor and who knows maybe even our keel if things got really rough (we’ve been getting hit by thunderstorms pretty much every night), I shout lift anchor now to John while I got back on board and behind the helm. As we lifted anchor and circled around the boats to get out, our depth sounder went mad with all the rocks under us. Anchoring here poses a serious risk of losing the anchor.
We decided to try the opposite side of the bay. Anchor down, reverse to set it and it just wouldn’t set, I went to check why. Posidonia, very healthy and tall Posidonia as far as the eye could see. We lifted anchor and accepted that we would have to anchor far out in 15\20 meters of water for the night, the sun was already too low to see when diving the anchor or even to identify a sand spot from the bow.
The next morning we toured the bay with the dinghy and its depth sounder to find that past the big boulder rocks we identified the day before, closer to the harbour breakwater there was a very good area of sand and 5 meters depth. We made our move and anchored there.
Later that afternoon the daily thunderstorm came but with only winds of 15 knots, nothing to worry about usually, except another sailboat in front of us dragged seriously towards our bow, John grabbed a fender, I ran behind him while the guy from the other boat turned the engine on calmly and set the gear forward but not really making the boat go forward. His boat kept dragging towards us, less than 2 meters from our bow and I was screaming at him “Go, go, go!”
He finally pushed the RPMs and the boat finally moved forward without hitting us. That was our closest call ever.
Who the heck drags in 15 knots of wind and 5 meters deep water in sand???
2 - The following day we moved to Capri and anchored in the crowded area but with good distances from everyone. The catamaran next to us looked like it would stay for the night.
Later in the day, I dived on the anchor again because there was a thunderstorm on the horizon coming our way. On this dive, I found there was another anchor laying close to ours. I had not seen this anchor on my previous dive (we were in 15 meters of water and when we arrived there was a lot of boat movement so the visibility was not so good) I panicked, came to the surface and told John. The catamaran guys wondered if it was their anchor but it couldn’t be, we would have crashed into each other hours ago if it was theirs, so I dived on their chain to follow it and double check where their anchor was. It was nowhere near us, so I dived again on our anchor to double check if I was getting crazy and seeing things.
Definitely, there was an anchor close to ours but it didn’t have any chain or scope attached, looked like a Delta as big as our anchor but it was too deep for me to put a line on it and retrieve it (that would have been cool to get a new anchor for free). Anyway, we decided it was okay to stay in place and dropped more chain just to be sure we had a good distance from the catamaran.
The storm rolled in, the catamaran guys turned their engine on.
We thought it was strange because the winds didn’t pick up that much but at the same time we thought it was really interesting that these Italian guys were so considerate contrary to some of our previous experiences.
All of a sudden they were slowly getting closer and closer to us, according to what the guy had told us regarding how much chain he had and the position of their anchor there was no way the reason for this proximity was the anchor chain stretching.
They were dragging! On us!
The guys on the catamaran were ready to jump into action but their anchor eventually grabbed deep and they stopped dragging. They were maybe 2 meters from our bow.
As they looked around considering what should they do to correct the problem, we decided to let more chain out and told them, they appreciated but volunteered to take action also. We preferred, we did it because the storm was still going and we could just do it in between gusts with reduced risk.
10 more meters of chain out and we were okay again.
3 - The following morning we decided to leave Capri, according to the forecast there should be light winds and only 0.2 meter waves coming from North, our stern.
Reality, when we left the anchorage, was very different, 1 meter swell coming from South, right on the bow, short fetch and with very confused winds at 17 knots pretty much from everywhere, we decided it was not worth the fuel effort and discomfort so we went back to Capri and waited a few hours for things to align with the forecast. Mid-afternoon we left again heading South and arrived in the new anchorage at 3 am.
We dropped the anchor a long way from the other boats in the middle of the bay and decided we would adjust to a better spot in the morning when we could see our surroundings.
We avoid as much as possible arriving in anchorages late in the day or even at night but there was some seriously bad weather coming from the Strait of Bonifacio and we needed to get into a safe anchorage further South leaving us with no option but to arrive that late.
4 - The next day we moved to a more protected place in the anchorage but when I dived to check the anchor there was a car tyre half buried vertically next to our anchor that could tangle it so we decided to move a bit further and drop anchor again. When I dived in the new spot I discovered that our anchor and chain were under a small vessel wreck. My immediate thought was that we could swing the yacht to the port side and release the anchor before moving to another spot but between me getting back on board and John starting to pull chain in we got completely tangled on the wreck and it was not possible to lift the anchor! Oh shit!
I decided to dive again and see if I could help release the chain, otherwise, we needed to either find a diver or give up on our anchor. Luckily we anchored in 5 meters of water so should be easy for me to dive and fix the problem.
With a couple of dives I managed to release the chain from the wreck, now I only needed to be able to release the anchor without getting caught or hit by the wreck because it was kind of suspended on our anchor, but if John dropped a bit more chain then the wreck would be completely resting on the anchor and the anchor stuck on the sand and I don’t think I’m strong enough to lift it underwater and pull the anchor at the same time.
A couple more dives and manoeuvres and John pulled the anchor up freely. I swam back to The Dream and we moved to the opposite side of the bay and anchored safely.
Later that night between 5 and 7 am another thunderstorm hit us.
5 - The morning after, after the early morning thunderstorm, we moved again further South to the little bay that we would use as hiding hole from the bad weather coming from the North. There was no wind to sail and the sea was still quite choppy as result of the thunderstorm but we made our way under motor.
When we rounded the cape and entered the Gulf of Policastro we were back in calm waters so we thought we would be able to get in plenty of time to the final anchorage before the thunderstorm we could see in the horizon hit us. The forecast said it would hit the area at 2 pm.
Suddenly, the engine stalled. We were running the two tanks at the same time because tank 2 was running out but tank 1 still had close to 100 litres of fuel, so we thought that because one of the tanks had run out of fuel maybe some air had got in the system. We closed that tank, hand pumped fuel into the engine and tried to start it again. Nothing tried again and nothing, John checked the valves and kept trying. No signs of life.
We decided to put the dinghy in the water and try and tow The Dream closer to shore without success.
Finally, some wind started to blow and we tried to sail it with the Genoa with a reef because it was gusting inconsistently up to 17 knots and without an engine to resort to in case something happened I didn’t want to risk anything while single handling our 50 footer with a thunderstorm on the horizon.
While John hand steered for a bit I cleared the contents of the two back cabins and opened the bed support planks so John could access the tanks.
He knew exactly what the problem was, the fuel intake rod must have been clogged with some dead fuel bug. John quickly cleaned the rods and put all back together, we tried starting the engine but still no luck.
Maybe we had got the valves confused in the middle of so many attempts, John changed the valves configuration again and we tried turning the engine on again, this time successfully for a bit, tried again and this time it stayed on. We motored the final minutes and anchored safely in the protection of Sapir bay.
30 minutes later the major thunderstorm hit us.
On top of all this, we got rubbish and netting caught in our propeller twice.
That’s what I call a difficult week, all these things happening, something different every day on top of the slight sleep deprivation we are suffering as result of the night thunderstorms.
Hopefully this week the weather forecast improves and we get to a nice anchorage where we can just chill.
***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community.