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We cheated death again

Posted on Tuesday May 29, 2007

Photos (1)

Words (514)

As you can see by the photo (if I'm able to post it) the anchorage here has been extremely rough. We've had southwest winds for days and about a 6-9 foot swell. The photo is 50' Ocean Lady, at anchor next to us. There is a large swell event predicted to occur in a few days so this morning we decided to move to deeper water. That's when everything went wrong.

First I took the pressure off the snubber line (a 20 foot piece of line that takes the shock loads off of the anchor chain) and tried to untie it. But the rope had slightly unraveled and was impossible to undo, so I had to cut off about a foot of my line. Then I raised the anchor to find a large chunk of discarded fishing net entangled in the chain near the anchor. While I'm struggling to get this off, Sherrell is trying to drive away from the pounding surf and into the deeper part of the bay. I noticed she was having some difficultly in maneuvering the boat when she screamed for help, because the boat isn't responding.

I dumped the anchor and chain back out along with the mess of net and raced back. I grabbed the gear shift and felt the transmission engage, but when I floored it there was little response. Looking over the side I could see the prop spinning and pushing water, but we had no steerage. While messing with it, the transmission cable came loose, which I quickly fixed, and when we tried flooring the engine again there was some black carbon in the exhaust water (which Sherrell thought was oil) that caused more panic.

Luckily our anchor caught and held us from getting swept into the breaking waves about 500 feet behind us. I grabbed my mask and fins and dove into the water to see what was happening with the prop. There was a solid covering of barnacles that had grown in the past 10 days that was destroying the hydrodynamics of the prop. While I frantically scrapped the prop (in heavy waves this is difficult and I cut up my hands on the sharp barnacles), Ocean Lady was getting ready to come over to assist us. In record time I scraped it clean, and soon we discovered we could steer the boat.

While Sherrell motored us away from the beach to deeper water I hung upside-down off the bow sprit (getting dunked underwater occasionally) and tried to hack my way through the net that was on the anchor. It took a huge effort with my bloody hands and I was covered in nasty goo that was in the net. Finally I got the net off the anchor and on deck. Exhausted, I rested for a few minutes while Sherrell motored back into the bay so we could anchor again.

Now we are safely anchored in deeper water in case the large swells show up in the next couple of days. But we're both shaken.

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