Thursday, August 3, 2006

2 Near Misses - Same Day

Poco Loco is a 30 foot Catalina from LA skippered by the 74 year old Jerry and his lamb looking dog Sparky. Yesterday, in 25 knots of wind he started dragging towards the breakwater. Colin and I jumped in the dinghy and raced over to help. Colin went aboard and helped raise and then lower the anchor and Jerry got his umbilical cord replanted in terra firma. Safe, and only 200 yards from the rocks! We were heroes for helping. Little did I know what would happen the next day.

Colin got off the boat yesterday morning to go back to the States. He is an earth dwelling mammal once again. Come back anytime “Chef Evin”.

After we hugged goodbye and his cab pulled away I felt the first drops. I dinghied back to Barraveigh just in time to shut the hatches and roll down the dodger. The winds came up real fast out of the south. The boat was pointing east. The currents and the tides often don't allow the boats to point into the wind. She was heeled over almost to the point of having her port hatches in the water. She straightened herself out soon but not before the main sail had been completely deployed from the wind catching it sideways (I will from now on always make sure the clutch break is engaged. Live and learn). I was dragging anchor in 60 knot winds. Only one boat didn't - "Anna Lisa" from Santa Barbara. I started the engine and powered forward to stay off of her. Her skipper and I shouted at each other over the winds. 60 knots - he told me later that that's what his wind indicator clocked. That's my new record. I was in 40 for days off Nicaragua with the boys but never 60 and alone. I stood at the wheel for an hour turning Barraveigh away from Anna Lisa until I was sure the anchor had reset. I was freezing cold. I’d forgotten what that was like. I guess I’ll quit complaining about the heat. It took a pot of coffee and 2 bowls of soup to get back to normal. That was exciting! Glad it's over. Sun and goodness after, with the radio chattering away about who ended up where and what just happened. And then the winds turned 180 degrees and came right back at us. Only 25 knots the second time.

I'm glad the bimini held. I wasn’t sure it would. It looks like a patch quilt with all the pieces of fabric I’ve glued over rips. Some things are no longer pretty but it’s still in one piece after that attack. You should have seen the dinghy jump around. A couple times the bow shot up, the wind blew it higher and I was expecting it to flip upside down. Fortunately that never happened. I locked the cable around the engine handle so I could retrieve it if it did.

It was a beautiful afternoon though, and I got a lot of work done. By 10:30 I was exhausted and climbing into bed when I saw lights off my starboard side.

"Huh, didn't notice that boat before. Wait, those are nav lights. That guys coming right at me!"

I ran up on deck with a flashlight. He saw my frantic waves and altered course immediately. Another 12 – 15 seconds and he would have cut me in half. I’m looking at the vessel now and it’s about 150 feet with full fishing nets - one of my beloved shrimp boats. There's no way I would have lived through that collision. How did he not see my lights?

Today the sky is blue and I'm heading off to shop with my new friend Ricardo. Glad I made it out of Wednesday.

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