Sunday, August 11, 2013

A night at anchor

Whispering Jesse at anchor (right in the center of the photo)
With Whispering Jesse back in commission, Nan and I recently tried something we have wanted to do since we arrived here in Isla Mujeres, Mexico: spend a night at anchor in the bay. Some of the sailors we have met here live on their anchored boats, and we wanted to see what it would be like to be out there with them.

There are areas of the bay that are too shallow for our boat's six-foot draft, but I had scoped out a good, deep location using one of the El Milagro Marina kayaks. On the appointed day, we waited until late afternoon and then loaded up the cooler with food and drinks, tied the dinghy to the boat, and enlisted Felix to assist with the dock lines and anchoring. We motored out of the marina and made a big, sweeping turn around the shallows and into the planned location. I pointed us into the wind, brought the boat to a stop, and yelled up to Felix at the bow to drop the anchor. He got it stuck under the jib's furling mechanism, and I needed to run forward to help him manhandle it overboard while Nan kept us pointing into the wind. The chain promptly ran all the way out,
Nan paddling laps around anchored Whispering Jessealong with about twenty feet of the line spliced to it. The little yellow tape woven into the line indicated sixty feet, which I figured was about the right scope for our ten-foot depth. As the wind slowly pushed us backwards, Felix cleated off the line and I returned to the helm. When the anchor line tightened, we stopped moving backwards, an indication that the anchor was holding, not dragging through the sand and sea grass on the bottom. I put the engine in reverse and gave it some RPMs to make sure the anchor was set. The line straightened and vibrated, but the anchor held. We visually lined up some objects on shore and watched them for a few minutes, just to be absolutely sure we were not moving.

I pulled the swim ladder out of a lazarette and attached it to the boat's rail, then pulled the dinghy around to it. Felix and I climbed in for his ride back to the marina, leaving Nan alone on the boat. As I dropped Felix off at the pier, he assured me that he would be available the next day to help us pull up the anchor and return to the marina. I thanked him and motored back to the boat.

A test for whether we could be comfortable at anchor in the bay for extended periods was to see if we could pick up the marina's wireless Internet signal from out there. We couldn't. We also wanted to see if it was appreciably cooler out there than in the marina. Even with every hatch and portlight open, it wasn't. The cabin thermometer never went below 84 degrees, so Nan and I decided to sleep out in the cockpit instead of roasting inside. In fact, we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the cockpit, sipping wine and watching first the boat traffic and then the sunset. Nan served up a tasty chicken and pasta dinner, and before long it was time for bed.

Sunrise over Isla Mujeres from Whispering Jesse at anchor
The rising moon woke us both at about 1:30. Buzzing mosquitoes kept us awake most of the rest of the night. We were both wide awake and drinking coffee before the sun rose to end our restless night. It soon became uncomfortably hot in the cockpit, and we prepared to leave in the dinghy to go get Felix. Back at the marina, looking across the bay at Whispering Jesse swinging at anchor, I thought she looked really good out there, maybe a little vulnerable, but good.


Anonymous said...

Hey John! I just spend a good, long Saturday lunch with a few pork chops and your blog. I too am glad that the repair went well, and that nothing more serious happened while you were sailing. We have been missing you at the gym! Darryl was asking about you last night! Keep that writing coming, and sail well.
(Go Pack Go)

John Lichty said...

Zach, I don't know if I can say I miss the gym but I sure do miss the many characters there. We may be back in GJ for a visit before too long. I will try to time it for a Packers game at BWW and let you know so you can get a hall pass. Go Pack!