It is great to be in the right place at the right time. This time we were anchored in English Harbour, Antigua on the night the first solo competitor in the Talisker Challenge was due to arrive. Obviously these competitors must be a little crazy - I can't imagine rowing across the Atlantic myself, but admire anyone who is brave and fit enough to try. I will never know how it feels to arrive at an island after nearly 2 months alone at sea, but it was a surprisingly emotional experience to watch it happen.
Supporters had hiked out to Fort Berkley with torches and flares to cheer their competitor Gavan Hennigan in and his small craft was surrounded by the local rescue boat and numerous dinghys as it passed through the channel in English Harbour, en route to land at Nelson's Dockyard. Those of us at anchor in the bay joined in the festivities with cheering and horn blowing, particularly when Gavan lit a triumphant flare at being the first solo rower over the finish line. The loud cheers from the Dockyard could be heard as he finally stepped ashore and I felt very fortunate to have been an active spectator of this exciting and emotional experience.
One of the many things to love about life on the water is being immersed in nature. I don't think I ever tire of seeing dolphins leaping and playing in the bow wave, spotting a whale 'spouting' nearby or seeing a ray jump from the water. Today though, I am bewitched by turtles in the bay we are anchored in. Somehow they appear both prehistoric and comical at the same time, their heads bobbing above the waves to breath, before diving down to continue feeding on the sea grass. Having tried in the past to follow turtles underwater I know how quickly they can swim, which again seems at odds with their cumbersome appearance. Nature really is wonderful to me and I feel privileged to see such sights at close quarters. It's just a pity they move to quickly for me to get a decent photo !!
We have come to expect the unexpected when sailing. However, we seem to have forgotten about the completely expected and Mosquito Cove, Jolly Harbour, Antigua decided to take the opportunity to remind us....
We had had a lovely day out with new chums; lots of turtles around us during lunchtime BBQ, beautiful weather, snorkelling over a wreck and a very steady drift back under headsail in light airs. We dropped anchor in Mosquito Cove, but seemed to have found a poor spot as the anchor refused to bite. We decided to try again and it was at that point that we discovered we had hooked a large rope which appeared to be anchored to the sea bed at either end. Lots of fiddling with the windlass and a bit of boat hook work and we were free. “I bet there's a huge anchor at the end of the rope, if only we could recover it” said our chum. We moved location and re-anchored for the night.
Next day we decided to 'pop' to the fuel pontoon in Jolly Harbour – a job that shouldn't have taken long. However, as we attempted to raise the anchor we discovered that this time we managed to bring up the very anchor our friend had suggested might exist. A large fisherman's anchor presented itself and so we launched the skipper into the dinghy and attempted the standard procedure of tying another rope around the stray anchor and lowering our anchor to free ourselves. Oh no, never that simple on a boat. This time our anchor came up wrapped in chain and rope. Obviously this mess was tied to the fisherman's anchor just outside of our view through the murky water, and just dipping our anchor to free it, we had managed to get further entangled. More lines were required, first around our anchor and then around the tangle of chains, but finally we managed to get rid of the mess. It was then just a case of dropping the slip line around the fisherman's anchor and we were finally free - 40 minutes and some sweat later!
We can't decide if Murphy's Law or Sod's Law is most appropriate in this situation. Perhaps we need to define a new Sailor's Law that encompasses both...