You Have to Move!
The shouting started at 10 PM.
All was peaceful in the bay before that. Maria and I sat below watching a film when we heard someone outside shouting “Hey!”, followed by something illegible, then a pause for a minute or so, then “Hey!” We thought it was someone on the local rum, so we ignored it. This racket continued for at least 10 minutes. Then Maria saw lights flashing into our cockpit. Rushing upstairs to see what was happening, she was confronted with the horror of a 50-metre barge and a tug pushing it, not 5 metres away from our starboard side. Maria shouted, “Allen, you need to come up!”, and when I did I was hit with the heat and rumble of noise from the tug’s engine, and the crew shouting, “You have to move!”
Maria tried to explain that it isn’t that simple because we are anchored. Although we were soon to find that the tug had taken care of that – it had ripped our anchor from the seabed.
The reply she got was, “Everyone should have been told we were coming.” Hardly the most helpful of responses given the circumstances.
We started the engine and dropped the lines attaching us to shore, thinking we will collect them later, and Maria started to raise the anchor. As the anchor chain was lifted, we moved closer and closer to the tug. I used the bow thruster in an attempt to turn Lady Jane away. We got within one metre of the tug then thankfully started to turn away and cleared the stern of the tug by only a few metres.
Relief was short-lived.
We got the anchor up to our bow and found someone else’s anchor stuck inside ours. The tug had pulled on both of our anchor chains. I tried to get a rope under the anchor, but couldn’t quite get it. While I did this, Maria steered Lady Jane to make sure we didn’t surge back towards the tug.
After what seemed to be an age, out of the dark emerged someone on a boat. Cricket, one of the boat boys, came to help. He had already collected our long lines from the shore. I asked him to loop the rope onto the other anchor so that we could shake it free. He did. It wouldn’t move. He then tied the rope to the shank of the anchor and tried again, this time alternating between the up/down button on the anchor windlass to try to free it. I brought out a lump hammer to see if that would work.
Then Maria shouted, “There’s a swimmer in the water!” I think I replied something unprintable. Then the swimmer arrived, it turned out to be one of the guys on the boat whose anchor we had hooked. Somehow he scrambled onboard.
Matej, although a little shaken, worked with me to free the anchor and, eventually, after several blows with the hammer and twists and turns of the shank, the two anchors separated. I stowed Lady Jane’s anchor on the bow roller. With the other boat’s anchor still attached to Lady Jane by the rope, we were able to reverse and take the anchor further away from shore. Matej cut the rope to let the anchor fall.
Then we had to find somewhere to go.
Pitch Black in the Bay
It was now almost 11 PM and pitch black in the bay. The only references I had were the chart plotter and the lights of the tug. We couldn’t tell sea from land and could only hear the shoreline. So we asked Cricket to shine his light to lead us to somewhere safe.
He led us to the north of the bay outside the Mojito restaurant (although we didn’t know it at the time) where we dropped the anchor in seven metres of water. Cricket then rowed our line ashore and tied it to a tree.
After digging in the anchor deeper than a miner’s pickaxe, we gave Cricket some money, opened the fridge, reached for the beers, and settled down for a chat with Matej. Matej is on holiday with his father and a few friends. He came across as a nice guy, and left equally nice but less sober and with salty sea dog tale to tell back home. His dad came to collect him in the dinghy just before 1 AM, but Matej just dived over the dinghy and swam back to his boat. I think he likes adventure. We understand that includes downhill mountain biking in the snow at home in the Czech Republic.
Prelude – 18th February
Half an hour after leaving Keartons and turning right, we entered Cumberland Bay where Kenny the Rastafarian on his inflatable dinghy and large outboard was first to reach us. Kenny helped us to anchor in a spot slightly to the north of the bay and took a long line ashore to a post especially made for the job.
Or so we thought.
While still in the process of sorting out the mooring lines and the anchor, the boat boys arrived. One to our right and another to our left. We asked them to wait a while until we got the line ashore and the anchor chain tight. After making sure the lines were secure and our anchor firm, Kenny zipped off on his dinghy saying that he would see us later. So we settled down to do trade and bought fruit from Wesley. Unfortunately for Davis, the guy on our left, our stocks of jewellery were too high for us to buy any more, but as he said, “No problem mon.”
The Remains of the Day
A procession of vendors followed; amongst them Ricky with his bananas and Joseph the fisherman offering anything from fruit to jewellery to fish to garbage disposal or a meal at his restaurant at the end of the bay. The man is keen. Another fisherman came along asking if we had a spare pin for his shackle. We didn’t, but we did give him a spare shackle and sent him away very pleased. Ricky came along selling bananas and a few other boat boys passed by with nothing to offer other than a wave and a smile.
The area behind us looked like a building site, principally because it was. The building company creating the Cumberland bridge have been using the bay as a place to store materials and machinery. It had the look of a place that had lain dormant for a while. I swam ashore to look around the area and spoke to the people in the Bay Central cafe (immaculate toilets and showers at a bargain price). After swimming back to Lady Jane, Maria and I spent the rest of the time doing little other than watching the boats coming in and the boat boys plying their trade.
Later, when night fell, we settled down below for dinner. Then the action started.