Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bahia de Los Muertos

The wind started to pick up last evening around 8:30 p.m. as we dinghied back to our boat.  The Blues Explosion had provided our entertainment at the sole restaurant on shore and we had dropped off a couple of young passengers (Tino and Valencio from the boat Neener Neener Neener).  As we approached our boat (in the dark) we saw a large power boat attempting to anchor nearby.  Before going to bed we noticed that the boat had anchored a distance up wind of us.  All night the wind howled gusting 25 knots and above.  Unnable to sleep,  I was up regularly checking to be sure we were holding and taking my usual 360 look around the anchorage. 

Around 12:15 a.m. we were both up and wondering when the wind would calm down and let us get some sleep.  The night before the wind had died around midnight and we were hoping for the same again.  The mainsail acted like it was trying to escape a sail tie, so Michael went up to secure it.  Hearing a clatter on deck and wondering if Michael had fallen, I poked out my head just in time to see and hear Michael blaring our fog horn at a huge power boat heading straight for us on our starboard side and to see Michael try to push the boat away (or push our boat away).  A man appeared at the bow of the other boat and quickly threw a fender between our two boats.  There was a horrible sound of chain and or anchor rattling along the bottom of our boat and out came chain to our stern with the large power boat attached.

Everything seemed to happen at once as we jumped into action.  Michael and I put on our headphones that we use for anchoring, he went to the bow, I was at the helm.  We started the engine as we were not certain if our anchor was still holding us or not.  Michael communicated to me to instruct the power boat what to do and I communicated to him via our radio.  I had previously made an announcement to the other boats in the anchorage (there were three other sailboats downwind) to alert them of the situation and to take precautions to protect their own boat.  Michael worked for 45 minutes trying to untangle the anchor and chain.  Finally, Michael said he needed a third hand.  We called Bob Custer on Ponderosa and asked if he could dinghy over to help out.  Michael started raising our chain and anchor and up came two anchors - our 65 pound CQR and a 122 lb Rockna from the power boat.  With Bob's help they were able to get the anchors separated.  It was now 1:15 a.m. or so. 

Exhausted from the episode, both boats  re-anchored and we said we would get together in the morning to assess the damage - it was a sleepless night as the wind continued to blow and Michael and I took turns on anchor watch wondering what damage we might discover with daylight.
First thing this morning we received a call from the other boat.  Michael dinghied over and they exchanged insurance information.  The power boat was headed to La Paz.  The damage was very visibile on his boat - his bow roller had flattened on the port side and his fiberlgass was all chewed up.   We were anxious to inspect Odessa's bottom - Michael and Bob put on their snorkel gear to assess the damage.  They saw some gouges in the gelcoast/fiberglass but nothing that would allow water to penetrate.  The prop appeared to be okay and we felt comfortable enough to proceed to La Paz to have the boat hauled and inspected further.

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