Anchoring Adventures at Little Whale Cay, Berries

Saturday, June 9, 2007

025-26.580 N
077-45.780 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from Little Whale Cay in the Berry islands!

I would probably have skipped reporting from here except for the fact that we had our most "exciting" anchoring adventure *ever* yesterday. We spent Thursday night anchored at Meeks Cay, which is a small cay near Spanish Wells, as the entrance to Spanish Wells is too shallow to navigate at low tide, which of course was when we needed to leave. At 06:30 we picked up the anchor and began our 55 mile westward trek to the Berry Islands. All of the rain clouds that had been plaguing us for days had disappeared and it was a beautiful day. However, the forecast was for a low pressure trough to form over the area and that typically means squalls.

We motor-sailed with just the jib up as we only had very light winds from the east. As the day progressed the skies got cloudier and cloudier and then the thunderheads started forming. I watched them on the radar and it appeared that they would pass on either side of us. We got into Little Whale Cay at around 2:30, which was near high tide, and dropped anchor with a squall closing in. We had 8' of water and the tide was supposed to drop by 2', so that would give us 6" to spare.

The squalls hit and the wind moved to the N and pushed us towards the shore. The bottom is very consistent, so that didn't worry me too much. However, as time went on I realized that we were about 9" shallower than before and we would be hitting the bottom. The squalls had high winds with them and we were rocking and rolling due to waves coming in from the cut. If the rudder hit, there was a good chance that it would be severely damaged, so we needed to get out of there.

We started pulling up the anchor only to discover that there was a small ridge between us and the anchor and we couldn't get over it. I put on my snorkel gear to check out the situation. Due to the winds and the strong currents, I couldn't figure out any way to move the boat away from the shore. My first plan was to drop our anchor chain overboard, release the anchor and then re-anchor using one of our spare anchors. Sue did *not* like that plan as she has far more faith in our new Rocna than our Fortress. I then came up with another plan that she could live with.

I deployed the Fortress anchor to the N which became our primary anchor. BJ from Unicorn came over in his dinghy and I dove down on the Rocna and was able to dislodge it. BJ and I lifted it enough so that it was off of the bottom and then Sue was able to pull the anchor chain in. Once the Rocna was back on board Sue attached a float to the end of the Fortress's anchor line and dropped it into the water. We moved to a much deeper spot and got ourselves re-anchored.

My description sounds rather straight forward, but you have to remember that the winds were blowing 20-30 kts, rain was pouring down, lightening was flashing through the skies and it was getting dark. And of course, the tide was going out rapidly, so all of this had to be done quickly. It wasn't a walk in the park!

Other than that we had a good night, although it was a bit rolly with waves coming through the cut. So we'll be moving N by about 8 miles in search of a smoother anchorage.

-- Geoff & Sue

Log ID: 973

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