I think it’s almost inevitable. If you do anything long enough, you start to get a bit complacent. The only problem with doing that on a boat is Mother Nature will give you a smack in the face to bring you back to your senses. Fortunately the repeated smacks we experienced over a a few weeks didn’t do any damage except to our psyche.
Leaving Red Shanks turned out to be the first of a series of poor decisions for Pegu Club’s crew. After a rolly motor sail to Lee Stocking, we enjoyed a great day anchored in front of “our” beach, doing some snorkeling and swimming. The water was already warmer than it had been just a few weeks ago which was a welcome development – it will only get warmer as the days go by!
Looking at the weather forecast, the wind was going to clock more to the south-southeast which meant that the anchorage in Lee Stocking would be fairly exposed. We decided we would ride it out the next day – our first poor decision. The winds ended up being substantially higher than forecast so that by mid-morning it was honking in the steady low 20’s with higher gusts, bringing 3+ foot waves onto a lee shore. For non-sailors, that means the wind was blowing towards the land – not good. We raised the anchor and motored over to Rat Cay – a much better decision.
The next day we took a look at the tide tables and the weather and decided we should move north in anticipation of a front that would be arriving in several days. It was a long day but a very nice sail, and we ended up back in Pipe Cay where we anchored in our up-to-that-point favorite spot in Pipe where we planned to wait out the front. Our second poor decision. We dropped the anchor slightly west of where we had during our previous visits – something that we would find out later was our third poor decision.
In the days leading up to the front we enjoyed some excellent snorkeling and relaxation while the outer anchorage (not very large to begin with) proceeded to fill up with boats. No problem – we’ve ridden out fronts before in our spot and it was fine. Complacency ruled the day on the Pegu Club.
Late in the afternoon, around 10 hours before the front would arrive, we looked at the forecast again and then compared it to the wind direction from the previous blows we had weathered in that spot. Uh-oh. We thought those blows had been from the same wind direction (and lazily hadn’t checked to confirm), but it turns out they weren’t. Now our spot wasn’t looking so great. The outer anchorage was full and we knew that the other decent spots in the area were also going to be full. Rather than try to squeeze ourselves in, we decided to stay knowing the holding where we were was excellent. And man, was that a good thing.
What followed was a completely sleepless night for the two of us as the wind howled, the fetch rocked and bounced the boat, and I endlessly fretted. Moving wasn’t an option, so we were just going to have to keep gritting our teeth. Once it was a reasonable hour of the morning, I began venting my anxiety to friends and family alike through multiple and frequent texts. Thanks to all who put up with me!
Twenty-four hours later the wind finally began to lie down, and eventually the system passed. Phew. At that point did we move? No. We decided to stay in our spot and enjoyed some more snorkeling and lazing about, not taking note of the increasingly low tides with the increasingly full moon. Our fourth poor decision.
The night before we planned to leave, we were sound asleep in flat calm water with no wind when we both heard it pick up a tad around 2:00 a.m. Remember when I said that we had anchored a bit west of where we had several times before? Well, the wind was a gentle puff, but it was just enough to swing us over and we heard a loud, scraping sound. WTF?? We were both out of the v-berth in a flash and outside in the cockpit.
The wind shift, along with slightly different spot in the anchorage, combined just enough to put our wonderfully wide and strong keel right on top of the one piece of coral in the area. It was dead low tide. Damn it! We searched around with our spotlight but there really wasn’t anything we could do but wait for the tide to come in. After about half an hour we felt a slight bump and heard another, less noisy scraping sound as Pegu Club moved back over clear water again. That’s some expensive bottom paint that we left behind. Sigh.
By now this had long since stopped being our favorite anchorage, and as soon as the sun came up we booked it out of there and moved over to Staniel Cay. We anchored in our same spot from the month before, and then – demonstrating that we could learn from our mistakes – we double checked the lower tide over the next 24 hours. Nope – that spot wasn’t going to work. Time to raise the anchor and move to slightly deeper water. We can read a trail.
At this point we were about 10 days from needing to renew our cruising permit which we had hoped to do online to avoid another trip to George Town. Unfortunately that didn’t turn out to be an option, so looking at the weather we resigned ourselves to motoring to Lee Stocking, waiting out a moderate blow, then motoring to George Town. We weren’t particularly crazy about this option.
As the afternoon went on, I was looking at the charts and the weather and getting more and more unhappy about our decision. Finally I looked at Jeff. “We’ve been making a bunch of crappy decisions because we’ve been lazy and complacent, right?” “Yeeess,” Jeff warily replied. “And now we’re going to motor to Lee Stocking, wait out weather, and motor to George Town while hoping that it doesn’t change on us, right?” “Yeeeess.” “All because we don’t want to travel 55 miles to Rock Sound, where we can also renew our permit and be in a great anchorage from almost any wind direction. It seems to me we’re about to make yet another poor decision and we should just suck it up and go to Rock Sound. It will be a long day but the wind will be at a better angle, and we’ll be some place we actually want to be.”
And with that we turned the corner, basing our decisions once again on the best option vs. the easy option. It’s a reminder we probably all need once in a while.