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Friday, November 2, 2012

Stormy Seas & Anchoring Lessons In Vieux Fort


A rainbow welcomed us to Vieux Fort.
October 13, 2012 retrospective (as we are currently in Martinique, soon to sail to Dominica)
Ready for a break from tourist-focused areas, we anchored in the harbor of industrial town of Vieux Fort. 

After a night of respectable rocking, anticipating more from the fringe of a tropical storm, we relocated to Vieux Fort’s tiny fishing marina.  The local fishermen helped there us anchor amid increasingly gusty winds, stern-tying us in 3 places to their cement wall dock, balanced against our two anchors. 

At about 11:30 pm, well past our usual bedtime these days, we happened to be up watching a movie when… BANG!  CLUNK!

We looked outside and realized despite all our precautions, both our anchors, set hours before, dragged in the gusty, likely up to 40 knot winds, shifting between Southerly and North Easterly – a big swing.

For non-boaties and to paint the scene a little better….

The ropes and weights that held our boat away from the cement pier, the fishing boats perpendicular to it, and the rocks, were no longer holding our boat in place.  Our boat wavered between slamming into the cement pier, a large battered wooden fishing boat, and a rock wall.  We were able to use fenders to keep us from repeatedly slamming into the cement dock, but the dock overhang was slam dancing disconcertingly with the solar panels on our davits.  A well placed foot, a temporary measure for sure, kept us from slamming into the fishing boat.  

Hmmmm.  A sign is needed for this?  My bet...
something simpler like a "No pee" icon would be
more effective.


Wayne adjusted the stern ties, dinghied out in the dark, swirling wind to re-anchor, while I alternately let out or snugged up the lines.  Slowly, we pulled away from the boat and the cement pier. Then we swung towards the sharp, jagged rock wall, potentially far more damaging than the pier and other boats.

After repeated attempts at this, we decided to remove the stern ties to get further from the rock wall.  Less secure, in theory, but enabled us to re-anchor in a safer spot within the marina. 

Time completed:  ~ 1:30 am.
Conditions:  dark, swirling winds, odiferous (aka… stinky), dirty (rife with floating trash), a break from the 24 hour torrent of rain except for the last 10 minutes, not a soul around besides the two of us, down to our last 5 gallons of water, which came from our watermaker prior to entering the marina
Result:  2 anchors held better that 2 anchors plus 3 stern ties, put together by 5 people; we slept until 8 am, 2-3 hours past our usual bedtime
Vieux Fort abolished slavery, rampant in the
colonized Caribbean, before we did in the
United States.  We appreciated everyday Vieux Fort
after all the harassment in Soufriere, but were
happy to escape it when we left.