Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beaufort - at a dock - and a current story

A peaceful end to the day - that's the new moon causing the extreme tides and currents!
After reachoring last night, we went to bed for a good night's sleep - but, alas, it was not to be...

At 1:00 am, "Slap, slap", "What's that sound?, Is the boat hitting something? I'd better get up to look. Wow, it sure is black out, can't see a thing, no lights anywhere, cold too, is that rain?"

Upon getting up on deck in the pitch black darkness, I turned on my flashlight and saw that Fleetwing was broadside to the 3 kt current. The anchor rode was directed aftward off the anchor roller on the port side, slapping against the side of the hull with the wave action and then disappeared under the boat. Ann came up on deck and between us we rev'd in reverse to try to relieve tension on the rode, no good, the boat wouldn't budge against the 3 kt current. Standing on the bow, you could hear the rush of passing water, like water cascading down a mountain stream. Forward or reverse, it didn't make any difference, no movement. I tried getting in the dinghy with the motor roaring with the hope that I could push against the bow to get it to turn to unwind the rode which we surmised was wrapped around the keel, no luck - the boat acted like it was frozen solid - cast in concrete. We spent a couple of hours in the darkness, kind of scary in the pitch blackness with the water rushing by at breakneck speed and with the anchor rode tight as a steel rod. Then, the anchor started to drag as the outgoing tide peaked (what else could happen!?) I let out more rode, all the way to 210 ft and the anchor held! (as we approached the shallows in the darkness). Exhausted, we watched the portable GPS in our forward bunk to be sure the anchor continued to hold and eventually retired to bed to await the next slack tide at 6:15 am.

We slept fitfully with one eye on the GPS showing the location of Fleetwing and again got up in the darkness, sunrise wasn't until 7:30 am, over an hour later. Again we were unsuccessful and finally gave up and called SeaTow of which we are a member. They sent a boat out from Charleston, over two hours away (five hours for us!). He probed on the starboard side of the boat that was facing the onrush of current and could feel the rode. With that, it appeared that the rode was against the port side of the bow and then went under the boat and wrapped around the keel, exiting on the starboard side. He proposed a simple solution, tie a float to the end of the rode and let the current pull it free of the boat. At first we were concerned that the rode may be wrapped around the keel more than once, perhaps upon itself, and that it wouldn't free up and then we'd have a real mess but one we couldn't get to.

Having no better idea, we tied a float to the end of the rode and let it rip. We watched as it slid down the starboard side and disappear upstream - we were free! There weren't multiple wraps as feared and it didn't hang up on the prop or rudder. With the tension relieved, the rode had dropped off the keel.

The outside face dock - the only place to be in 2 kts of current
The rest was easy. SeaTow retrieved the float with the rode attached (and our anchor!) and we loaded it back in Fleetwing's anchor locker. I noticed the anchor was polished as if someone had taken steel wool and rubbed it for hours. I think we'll never go back to that anchorage!! Lots of anchorages have a swift current but some, like Edisto River, have champion currents! There is a huge difference between 1.5 kts and 3.0 kts of current. We're told that the current often runs up to 5 kts in that river!

Getting a late start, we only made it to Beaufort, the one in South Carolina. This time we had the outside face dock (to avoid the near disaster of last year - but that's another current story). On Sunday we're heading for Savannah at Thunderbird Marina for one day.