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Someone once defined cruising as “doing repairs in exotic places.”  Well, while not exactly a repair, our buddy boat Bonita suffered an anchoring problem in a gorgeous place—White Cay on the eastside of the Berry Islands.  Their anchor got stuck. I mean really stuck.

We were anchored (took two tries) just 100 feet ahead of them after a fabulous sail to White Cay from Great Harbor Cay on the west side. A squall was expected, and since we led them going about 7 knots on sails alone with a southwest wind, we were first to enter White Cay. About 6 boats were already anchored there as well, and as I write this blog, 4 more were coming in to huddle in the apparent safety of this lovely white-sand area.

When Afterglow anchored the second time, about 10-20 feet of rode (chain) skipped on the gypsy as Allen backed the boat up to set the hook. The gypsy is the gear in the anchor windlass that pulls in or lets out the chain. We were anchored well—so we thought and hoped, but this was strange. After seeing what happened to Bonita, we began to worry about them and ourselves.

Bonita tried to anchor in 22 feet of water directly behind us. About 100 feet of rode came out when they backed up. When they tried again, they knew something was wrong. They were in distress—their anchor had caught on something and was stuck hard.

We watched agonizingly for 2-3 hours as Randall, Bonita’s captain, tried to loosen their hold—going forward, backwards, sideways, pulling the anchor up with a line and a big orange round fender. in a 2 knot current, there was not much we, or the other boats could do to help. He tried every way possible to get his anchor free on his own. It’s now about 4 PM. More boats are coming in. The rain is beginning to pelt our boats; luckily it was short-lived.

Of boats coming in, one knew Bonita, but they were warned by the first mate Suzanne to keep their distance. Bonita was in distress.  Allen motored over in our dinghy and spoke with Randall and Suzanne, more to relieve some of their stress and discuss other options and offer his assistance. Another boat coming in, Infinity, made an offer to dive down at slack tide to see how the hook was caught.

We anxiously waited. I ate a half bag of tortilla chips instead of biting my nails. The tension was fierce. “If my tension was high, what could theirs be”? I said to myself. I hope Randall drinks some water. He must be sweating buckets and feel frustrated as well as exhausted. 

Miraculously, at slack tide, when the diver (Bob G, the captain of Infinity) motored over in his dinghy to dive down and view their anchor, we suddenly saw Bonita drifting free and heading toward the rocky cliff. Allen immediately called on channel 16 and told them that they were free and drifting. Immediately they started their motor and moved to another area.  Even though the diver Bob was in the water, he actually did nothing to help release the anchor. All the efforts Randall put in just worked, but in the “thick” of the problem, he did not notice that Bonita had become unstuck until Allen called. Their anchor was free.

Their problem was solved, but the diver also checked our hook since some significant chain had skipped out during our anchoring. He went below and told us that our hook point was in some coral, but otherwise it was not dug into sand at all. and we quickly brought the chain up and anchored in some sand.  Whew!  That could have dragged when the current switched..

We asked Randall and Suzanne and dog Riley to come over for dinner that evening,. They were completely wiped out and appreciated the hastily prepared shrimp and rice and spaghetti squash and baked bean dishes I had prepared. It’s nice to have buddies when problems arise and nicer still to celebrate when they are solved.

Here is a shot of Diver Bob from S.V. infinity when he went to look at our anchor. (Thank you, Bob.)

It is now about a week later and we have anchored in West Bay, New Providence Island. Spent 2 nights at an high-end resort marina in Nassau and are now riding out a blow at Rose Island. We will need to move in a couple hours because the wind is clocking around from South to North as the Low Pressure Zone has passed us.

Stay tuned as we try to catch up a bit...

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Gosh, what an experience. Glad everyone is safe now.

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