Sunday, February 12, 2017

Windy Day in the Lagoon

When we arrived in St. Maarten we anchored in Simpson Bay. It is a beautiful blue. The bottom was clearly visible and littered with sea stars. The problem was, it was very rolly.

A rolly anchorage is a problem for several reasons.
 1) It makes it difficult to sleep
 2) It becomes difficult to function on the boat during the day, cooking, eating, moving about all with a constant side to side motion
3) getting on and off the boat from the dinghy can actually be dangerous if the swell is large enough.

All of these reasons sent us out of the bay and into the Lagoon.
Evening picture taken on the "Hike from Hell"
Simpson Bay in the center of the picture, Simpson Lagoon is at the bottom
The Lagoon is very large, and very calm, usually.  Today was not one of those days. We had planned to return in the dinghy to the French side of the island (St. Martin) for some more sightseeing, but the winds started to pick up with gusts over 30 knots. Prudence being the better part of valor,  we decided to stay with Rhapsody and make sure she was safe.

Soon there were calls on the radio searching for the owners of a Canadian flagged vessel.  The Coast Guard was currently on that boat, saving it from dragging on its anchor. We popped our heads out of the companionway and saw that this was taking place very near to us. Suddenly the Coast Guard boat turned and headed toward another boat that was dragging. We could hear calls on the radio from still other boats asking for help, warning others about boats dragging by them or informing people about items that have been rescued downwind.

The Coast Guard took control of the Canadian vessel and drove it off to a Marina for safe keeping. I can only imagine the horror of returning to your boat to find it missing. I don't believe that the relief of finding that your boat is safe can truly mitigate the feeling of despair upon finding it gone.

The Lagoon is shallow, an average of 10 feet deep. The bottom is mucky and covered in grass making for very poor holding. We have an oversized Rocna anchor and were able to find a sandy patch to set the anchor in and have confidence in our anchor. Nonetheless, we stayed aboard to make sure Rhapsody was not dragging, and, just as importantly, to make sure that no one was dragging into us.

The Coast Guard returned about an hour later to assist another boat, this one had crew aboard. Several Coast Guard members boarded the sailboat and guided them to the head of the anchorage.
The small dark boat in front is the Coast Guard Boat. The two men on the bow are Coast Guard.
You can see in the background some of the smaller mega - yachts in the lagoon. 

 Three times they tried to anchor, and three times the anchor would not set.

Attempt #2 and yes, this is another Canadian boat.

When the anchor was raised you could see the mud and the grass stuck to it.
The anchor with additional grass weight added.

Soon this boat also headed off to the marina.

We have anchored with many different bottom conditions with a variety of holding abilities, many different depths, both shallow and deep and many different weather conditions, calm, strong winds and swirly winds. With each experience comes more knowledge and more confidence, but not overconfidence. Every new anchorage brings new challenges and new learning opportunities. We just keep hoping that we are not the ones the Coast Guard will need to rescue next.

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