Monday, May 23, 2011

Night of Terror

Mom, if you are reading this, stop now.

After being set free to sail the San Juan Islands as we saw fit, we immediately set sail and successfully navigated to Watmough Bay, one of our favorite anchorages when we were onboard the Martha under the command and safety of Captain Robert. Watmough is a magically beautiful, secluded bay flanked on our starboard side by steep rocky cliffs, jagged rocks on our port side, a shallow sand bar between our bow and the shore, and a shipping lane in the distance to our stern, and we had her all to ourselves. Montana Sapphire's keel reaches 6 1/2 feet below us and we decided to anchor at a depth of about 20 feet. The anchoring system was new to us and Jason was yelling instructions to me from the helm at the stern of the boat on how to drop the anchor according to what he remembered Mark saying. Unfortunately, things were not progressing smoothly on my end and Jason kept having to run to the bow to help me with stuck chains and the like, which allowed the boat to drift more than he wanted. After a stressful, not-so-great process, the anchor was holding and we headed below deck. I may not be good at dropping an anchor with an unfamiliar system for the first time, but  I have to say that I excelled at cooking in a sailboat galley for the first time, though I think that it probably has something to with the amazingly fresh, local salmon (did I say amazingly fresh?) and veggies that I slathered in butter, cream and parmesan over the decidant Pike-Street-made-basil-garlic pasta. I love fresh food. Anyway. With happy, full tummies we settled into our bunks after Jason, again, checked the anchor and made sure that we hadn't moved anywhere. All was well. The boys snuggled into their cabin and fell asleep almost instantly. As Jason and I waited for sleep to come we talked about the craziness of the day and how we were in disbelief that they had actually let us take the boat. Sleep was eluding me as I still had some anxiety about the insanity of what we were doing and I laid there listening to the fish swim around our boat. Very peaceful. After what seemed like hours, I was getting close to sleep, when, the boat started rocking. A lot. Way more than she had all night. What on earth could be happening? Had the anchor broken loose? Jason and I nervously jumped out of bed, with doors and anything not secured banging, and went on deck to check things out. We were, in fact, in the same spot, and the anchor was still holding. The boys groggly asked what was happening as Jason set the anchor watch on the GPS and we headed back to bed where sleep was even more elusive as I lay there in terror. What if the anchor breaks loose? What if we smash into the cliff? How do we get onto the dinghy then? I don't even know how to get onto the dinghy! We are here all alone. Will we freeze to death before we can swim to shore? We are anchored in only 16 feet of water what if Jason was wrong about the low tide? What if we bottom out while we are sleeping? Jason had similar thoughts of panic circulating through his brain like what if we drift into the shipping lane and get run over by a cargo ship? Suddenly, the anchor watch alarm started beeping! Oh sweet mother of all that is holy.... We hopped out of bed to check out where we were. The GPS had our location at the top of the mountain next to the bay. Stupid technology. Jason again checked the anchor and it was still secure. Again, we headed below to see if we could get some sleep. As I lay there, still scared, still not sleeping, I could hear the blub, blub, blub, of the air bubbles released by a seal or a sea otter swimming around us. Just think of all the wonderful noises I would have missed out on if I had actually been sleeping! Finally, around 4am, we had just fallen asleep, when the anchor watch alarm went off again. This time I stayed in bed while Jason went to check things out. Just another GPS error. Sleep finally came to us just before dawn. I think we may have gotten about two hours in all. Isaac was the first to rise in the morning and sat out in the saloon quietly so as to not wake us because he knew we were on anchor watch until 4am. He was so sweet to be so thoughtful. Though we were never in any physical danger, it is truly amazing the terror that your brain can whip up, especially with your children along, when you are in an unfamiliar situation. 

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