On any given day, the biggest challenge is keeping the boat in alignment with the chain while we pull up the anchor. As soon as the chain deviates too far to the left or too far to the right, which happens when the wind or current pushes us, it’s impossible to continue as the chain will jump out of the bow roller and get stuck (see photo here and diagram #1 below). To put it back in place is tricky at best and potentially dangerous to the fingers, so we do everything we can to avoid this happening.
Moreover at some point in the process, the anchor got dislodged and started moving along the ocean floor giving us no holding point, but impaired our ability to steer the boat. Patrice did his best to control things at the helm while I desperately tried to get the chain up as quickly as possible even as the boat continued to fishtail wildly. We probably would’ve succeeded without incident if it hadn’t been for the fishing net.
As the chain came up, painfully slowly, it brought an old fishing net to the surface which was tightly wrapped around about 5 feet of the chain. Merde! I knew I had to get it off before it got to the bow roller, so I had to figure out how to reach it to disentangle the darn thing. To do so I had to leave my stable position propped against the forestay and go on my knees out on the pulpit (the raised platform which juts out from the front of the boat—see photo here), balance myself as best as I can in a very awkward position and lean down over the bow to reach the chain.
I did succeed, but no sooner had I gotten the darned thing off, a gust blew us smack into the boat anchored off our starboard (right) side--holy crash Batman! Thanks to my RYA training, I had a spare fender (a plastic cylinder which hangs over the boat's side to protect it against impact) handy and I was able to grab it in the nick of time and use it to cushion the blow.
The owner of the boat (let’s call him Fred) came charging out of his cabin screaming at us and pushed us away--I probably would’ve done the same in his shoes. However, because all my weight was thrown onto that fender and I was still on my knees on the pulpit, when he pushed our boat, I lost my balance and fell, fully clothed, into the water (see diagram #3).
When we arrived here in Le Marin, Martinique last Thursday with the problems with our engine our #1 priority, we were told there was no space in the marina until Sunday. In the that was fine since the engine expert was not available until Monday anyway and we worked out how to use the engine temporarily despite the malfunction. In the meantime we anchored in the bay, which we always prefer as it is much cooler there, has no mosquitoes, the view is better and we have a place to swim at our doorstep at all times.
Fred had kindly pulled me out of the water onto his boat after I fell where I sat drenched and abjectly apologetic while he frantically tried to save his boat from further disaster. Eventually one of the dinghy guys kindly rescued me and took me back to Taka Trois where I gathered my wits and tried to make myself useful. Thankfully Taka Trois suffered little damage and there was no visible damage to the Fred’s boat and if anything is damaged underneath, he has our number and our insurance details. Whew!