Monday, September 5, 2011

Watmough's day of DOOM!

With another day of high winds in the forcast, from Spencer Spit we sailed through an uber-narrow pass towards Rosario Strait. When we got to the strait it was eerily empty. We were literally the only ones on the water except a cargo ship and a coast guard cutter. With high winds and choppy waves, we were only with our main sail and just a tiny scrap of the genny to balance her out. We smashed through wave after wave exhilarated, listening to calls for assistance from elsewhere in the islands over the radio, towards Watmough Bay where we thought we would be sheltered. Watmough is tricky to anchor in with it's rocky shores and cliffs, and a shallow sand bar lying below. We went in as far as we felt comfortable, although I remember being much closer to shore when we were on the Martha, to about a 16 foot depth and anchored. Unfortunately, it was not as calm here as we had hoped since the westerly wind was ripping over the ridge and pounding us. We hung out for about an hour on our rocky boat to make sure that the anchor was holding before we rowed (and rowed and rowed) to shore for quick hike up to the swing of doom where the boys had a screaming good time. Jason, however, was very antsy and kept trying to get a glimpse of the boat from the ridge top. Looking into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which had gale force winds, from  this vantage point, we could see that the waves were six feet and breaking into large rolling white caps. When we got back to the beach the boat looked extremely far away. We knew that we had anchored far out but she looked distinctly smaller than when we had left her, so we hurriedly hopped into the dinghy to row and row and row back. The boat was definitely not where we had left her. With all of the wind and waves she was heading out to sea. Luckily she was moving slow and we caught her. The bottom rises very quickly from 80 feet up to 16 feet when you enter Watmough. We must have dropped anchor right on that steep slope and it slowly slipped out of place. At this point we had no choice but to anchor here because the wind and water were rough and it was getting late, so we motored in as far as we dared and dropped anchor again. We carefully noted our position and made sure it didn't change as the evening howled on. The winds were forecast to last until 2am. As we laid in bed, I listened to the boat groan and creak with rigging shaking as she rocked back and forth, up and down, swinging and shuddering too and fro on her anchor. Jason somehow kept dozing off in between my "what was that noise?" questions. I kept crawling out of bed and shining the flashlight on the cliff to make sure our position held. Then I would crawl outside and shine the flashlight down onto the anchor line to see if it looked like it was slipping. It seemed an eternity waiting, but the forecast was accurate and I was able to get some sleep when it finally calmed down. I guess I may never be destined to get a good night's rest in Watmough.

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