I am sitting here in the salon of our beautiful sailboat, swinging on the hook in one of the most beautiful harbors we have seen on our journey. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the butterflies are fluttering, and the water is clear, blue, and inviting me to dive in. Our plans this morning: after our coffee and morning smoothie, made from today’s choice of local fruit – soursop, fig bananas and passion fruit – we can go paddle boarding, snorkeling or hiking on one of the many beautiful challenging trails that lead through the island. It is a gorgeous day here in paradise.
The sunshine and light breeze are such a relief after the past ten days of 28 knot winds consistently blowing and gusting upward of 35 knots. In addition to the wind, we have received our fill of non-stop rain. Not the light rain that makes a sailor desire to snuggle up in the berth and read and sleep all day, but downpours and squalls. Most of the cruisers around us now have full water tanks and overflowing five gallon buckets filled with their home-made contraptions to catch the rain. Even those that rely on the rainfall for fresh water have had enough.
As if the high winds and torrential rains aren’t stressful enough, wondering if our anchor is going to drag or when and where we will find that new leak in one of the lockers, here comes a charter boat that drops their anchor right on top of us. As they are lowering their anchor in the water I watch in disbelief, “They are not really going to anchor there are they?” I ask Jon. He goes to the bow, politely asks them if they are going to anchor there, informs them that they are really too close and right on top of our anchor. The other guy just smiles, lowers the dinghy in the water and takes off with his two young sons and disappears around the corner – if we can’t see him, he can’t see his boat!
As the dinghy returns, after doing circles as fast as they can in the harbor where all the other boats are anchored, I walk to the bow, “You are going to move, aren’t you?” I ask. He just smiles. “If you drag, you will hook our anchor chain and you might end up on top of our boat” I say, giving him my most stern look, the one that used to send misbehaving children running to their mother’s arms for protection. He smiles again, “Nothing I can do” he says. I stomp away, fuming from his response. Jon tries again to no avail. We finally put out the fenders, just in case. Our friends on neighboring boats have come out to watch, now standing on their bows with their “why did he anchor there?” puzzled looks and gestures. I get out the camera and take a few photos of their boat, how close they are to our bow and the name of their vessel – my friend does the same from her boat.
I go back to work, inside the salon, peeking up every hour or so to see how we are aligned with our new neighbor. We don’t see him again until around 10:00 pm that evening, when it is pitch dark and the wind meter peaks at 28 knots. We bound up the companionway onto the deck; they are running around their boat with flashlights, checking the anchor rode, shining their light at our bow. “Yes, you really are that close” I want to shout out, as I see the whites of his eyes like he was standing on our bow, but I bite my tongue. As the wind picked up and we swung in circles on our anchor, I spent most of the night up and down checking our position and theirs. Needless to say, it was not a very restful night.
The next morning as Jon and I return from our regular Yoga practice on shore, he calls us over in our dinghy. He says he is leaving and just wanted to alert us, in case he fouls our anchor in the process. I do smile, wish him well and we climb aboard Beausoleil. Keys are in the ignition, we make sure the anchor windlass is on, we start up the engine, just in case we do have to re-anchor. They left, thankfully without incident.
When we sail into an anchorage, we really do try to be mindful of the other boats that were there before us. If at all possible, we do not drop our anchor in front of another boat (where we would be right over their anchor) – we look for large holes where we can let out at least a 5 to 1, or 7 to 1 scope, depending on the weather and the holding. Out of all the times we have dropped our anchor over the past year, there have been two times where I believe we were too close to another boat (and trust me, Jon and I had many words and heated discussions about how if I am not comfortable at anchor because I feel we are too close to another boat, life will not exactly be that pleasant onboard our blissful home). We finally moved both times. We have witnessed all out battles of words, yelling, screaming and even pleading over the local Cruisers’ Net to help someone that has had a boat anchor right on top of them.
Although we have chartered several boats from California, BVI’s to Maine, this is different: Beausoleil is our home. Most of the other cruisers we have met throughout the islands are “in the same boat” – ok that was a really bad pun. I guess the point I am trying to make is, if you are cruising, taking your boat out for a weekend, a day, dropping the hook for a picnic or a swim, or chartering a boat in the islands – please, please, please be respectful of other boats and their “space”, especially those that were already at anchor. Most of the time nothing will happen, but we all hear the dreadful stories that could have been avoided with a dose of common sense.
I have to go now. I see there is another boat circling that “perfect” spot right in front of us, maybe my “look” will work this time. Fair winds to you all, until next time! From the crew of Beausoleil – may you be able to rest peacefully knowing your anchor is set.