The Best of Times:We then headed off to the see the place. Treasure Cay is kind of planned resort community. There is a planned development with hundreds of condos, most of which have their own boat slips, and probably a hundred or two large single family houses, many of which also have their own slips. Treasure Cay has its own airport, its own golf course, its own marina with some large, mega-million dollar boats, and some nice restaurants; in short, just about everything else you would want in a resort community.
|One of the many houses on the canals.|
Now, some of you may recall that Treasure Cay was identified by the Discovery Channel as having one of the top ten beaches in the world. Well, I don’t know about top ten, but I will tell you this beach is magnificent. It was not only beautiful, but the sand was so fine that it was a pleasure to feel it between your toes. The beach was nearly deserted so after we took the mandatory pictures, we stopped at the local bar/restaurant and ordered grouper fingers, French fries and a beer. This is the life!
After our beach adventure, we walked around the local shops, then took our dinghy around the community’s canals. In short, it was an excellent day.
|A small portion of the magnificent beach at Treasure Cay.|
|Another small portion of the Treasure Cay beach|
When we got back to the boat, there were a few more boats in the harbor; indeed, a couple of them had anchored a little close to us. Oh well, we were going to be leaving in the morning, so it shouldn’t be a problem – or so we thought. What we didn’t know was that the next day, Because the next February 11th, 2012 is a date that is destined to live in infamy and is hereby labeled …
The Worst of Times:
We knew the wind was going to pick up that night, so we buttoned up the hatches like we usually do and prepared to get blown around. Again, we have a big boat and a very solid anchor so we don’t expect to get blown around too much. Two things happened over the next couple of days that probably made these some of the worst we have had since the infamous Cabbage Key Windlass Failure. First, the wind picked up the first night. No, I mean the wind REALLY picked up. Although I didn’t measure it, I would guess it was around 10 – 15 knots when we arrived and became 20-25 knots that evening. Over the next two days I measured gusts well over 35 knots. Still, I think we could probably have handled that. But the second thing that happened was that the wind changed direction. I mean it changed direction by 180 degrees; we came in and dropped our anchor facing east and we ended up the next morning facing west. Now, even if you don’t know anything about the physics of anchoring, you can probably figure out that this is not a good thing – and you would be very right. A third thing happened that was a little scary, but didn’t do us any harm – we experienced our first thunderstorm in the Bahamas. I’ll come back to that later, but first let me tell you about the anchor.
About 2 AM the first night we were at Treasure Cay, the anchor alarm went off. An anchor alarm is connected to the GPS and tells you when your boat has moved a specified number of feet from where it started – that could mean the boat is simply swinging (and when setting the alarm you didn’t account for it well enough) or it could mean that your anchor is dragging. I got up fast and looked around to see what the problem was and everything outside looked completely different than it did when we went to bed. We had turned 180 degrees as had all the other boats in the marina. Just getting my bearings was a problem. When I did, I found that one of the boats that anchored a little close to us was now VERY close and Traveling Soul was a little closer to the seawall than I wanted to be.
|We weren't the only ones with anchoring problems. |
One small sailboat anchored too close to Vulcan.
Our friend John had to help them get their anchor from under his boat!
Topping the evening off was the thunderstorm. Interestingly enough, we didn’t hear that much thunder, but we certainly did see lightening! It started about 4AM, lighting up lit up the individual cabins on the boat and, in fact, lighting up the whole anchorage. It also started raining. Most of rain we have experienced in the Bahamas is like the rain in Hawaii and other tropical climes; a kind of light mist. Well, there wasn’t anything light or misty about this rain. It came down in torrents; in fact, we couldn’t see out of the windows to know whether other people were dragging anchor or not. Thank Heaven, it eventually stopped and the rain clouds gave way to simple overcast clouds.
The next morning we set out in our dinghy with our new glass-bottomed bucket to try to find our anchor – so we could be sure it was well dug-in. Although we found Vulcan’s anchor pretty easily (Vulcan is our friend John’s boat), no amount of searching would turn up ours. Well, now we have a problem. We initially anchored when we were facing east and we are now facing west so we don’t really know if our anchor is “set” or just lying upside down on the bottom. To make matters worse, the weather forecast calls for the winds to shift to the north. We don’t know where our anchor is or which way it is pointed. There is one more problem. Remember the little sailboat that I thought was too close for comfort? Well, he really is too close for comfort. So, after much hemming and hawing, we finally decided to pull up our anchor and move the boat. We found that was easier said than done.
Some of you are asking why the heck we didn’t hightail it out of there and head back to the protections of Marsh Harbor. I have this Sirius weather forecasting system that (among other things) shows the color of the sea based on how high the waves are going to be. Usually it is blue, sometimes a little bluer than others. Once in a while the seas become one shade or another of green, meaning that the waves are going to be higher and meaner than normal. For Feb 12th, the forecaster turned a kind of yellowish-amber. It reminded me of the eye color of the hounds from hell – and I certainly wasn’t going to face those puppies! So, we decided whatever the problem was. The solution wasn’t to go out and face Satan himself.
Pulling up the anchor wasn’t a problem. But when we found it, it seemed as if it had meandered a lot before coming to rest about 100 feet from the seawall. In short, it was a good thing we decided to move because that anchor wasn’t going to hold up against all the wind that was coming at us. Now, all we had to do was find a new place to anchor. When we started the process, it looked like there was room behind John. When we got there, however, we found that the water was too shallow. Fortunately for us, one of John’s friends was vacating his spot and heading south. Because it looked like such a good spot, we circled the anchorage a couple of times waiting.
We got there and dropped our anchor. Since John was behind us, we didn’t let out as much chain as we would have wanted to – only about 65 feet. Mistake. That night we held (I know that for a fact because I was up most of the night making sure) but about 9AM the next morning we started dragging – and dragging quickly. Once again, we had to try a new spot. Although it took us a couple of tries, we found a spot that was well away from most others, dropped our anchor and let out 120 feet of chain. If this one didn’t hold (and even if it did) we were seriously thinking about picking up our anchor, admitting defeat and heading to the Treasure Cay Marina. (Had we done so, we would have had to tow our dinghy as there was no way we could have redeployed her. That would have been a problem.)
I should note, however, that about 4AM, the little sailboat that anchored too closely to us began dragging anchor. We did not see the beginning of the drama but we did see it play out. The wind was blowing at least 35 knots and this couple was trying to pick up their anchor and re-anchor their sailboat. It took about 30 – 45 minutes and we were thanking our lucky stars that ours didn’t drag at night. Anyway, someone went up in his dinghy and tried to help. I am not sure he could help or not, but shortly thereafter they got the anchor down and it seemed to hold.
|The anchorage after things had started settling down a little bit. The guy in Gulliver the Nordic Tug |
at the far right, tried to help all of us who dragged or were dragging.
The next morning it was as windy as ever. I clocked 39 knot gusts from the northwest. However, we held – after our two earlier attempts. To make matters worse, it was cold today (that is what happens when strong cold fronts pass through). For the first time since we have been in the Bahamas I actually had to wear a sweatshirt AND jeans! That night, I was feeling increasingly confident about our anchor AND the wind was dying down at last. So, our last night at Treasure Cay, although I once again slept in the salon, I only woke up five or six times to make sure we hadn't dragged.When morning came, it was still chilly, but the wind was only 10 - 15 knots. We called John, loaded our dinghy and you can bet -- we were out of there!
ANN’S NOTES:OK....where do I begin to explain my part in this drama...remeber I am the anchor person on the boat...the windlass controls that bring the anchor up and down are outside on the bow of the boat where the anchor hands from the bow sprit. Michael has already told you how fast the wind was blowing...yes...you guest it...I am outside with our earphones on so we can talk to each other and I can tell him where and in which direction the anchor is in. I got A LOT of practice anchoring in Treasure Cay. The holding power in that harbour is not good...next visit there will be in a marina. We will go back because the beach is just so beautiful...I could just imagine our grandchildren running up and down that beach, flying a kite, playing with their pails and shovels...just breath taking. The storm was also amazing...the lighting lit up our cabin like someone had turned on a searchlight...some thunder...and than really hard rain . I want our blog readers to know that while Michael is awake in the salon...I am in our stateroom but not sleeping very well myself...I do come up and check on him often and I do volunteer to do an anchor watch...since he would not sleep anyway the answer is 'thanks but I will take this one' Michael has worked out a way to 'fool' the Garmin into thinking we are on a trip and plotting a course...when in fact it is just keeping track of our location while we have our anchor down...that way he can tell if we are just swinging back and forth or in fact dragging our anchor and moving positions...that PhD from Harvard comes in handy every once in awhile. The only good part of this adventure was that we did not have to re-anchor and move around in the harbor while it was dark...one of my worst fears...traveling at night. I was glad to see Treasure Cay from the back of our boat as we departed.