Posted by: bearcruzer | September 20, 2010

Hanging on by a Thread

Store Bay Storm Cont’

For us, it was a sleepless night of being tossed about in the swells.   At around 2:00 am, we had to move the Might Mouse(our dingy) from it’s usual place beside DD and tie her off behind as the swells were trying to toss her up over the side of the lifelines.   This was the first time I have felt queasy at anchor.    Our Friends on S/V Faith had left Trinidad on a return trip to Tobago and were also caught off guard by this storm.  They had been tossed about on the open ocean for a few hours but made it into the bay around midnight, at the height of the commotion and grabbed a mooring to ride out the remainder of the storm.    We received a call from Mike on S/V Faith in the morning.   He wondered if we were interested in finding a local to guide us through the reef into the only hurricane hole on the Island.    We told him yes we were definitely interested.   Faith was unable to launch their dingy as the swells were too big still to maneuver their dingy motor into place.   Michael and Mighty Mouse braved the swells and picked up Mike to take him to shore to find us a guide.    He found one in a matter of a half hour.   Ellis one of the local Dive Guides said he would be happy to lead whoever was interested through the Buccoo Reef and into the Bon Accord Lagoon.   Faith put out the word that we had a guide scheduled for 2:00pm to lead us in and 4 boats responded with interest.   Obviously we were not the only ones who had had enough of this tumultuous bay.      Just before our scheduled departure, S/V Faith contacted us again and said they were having engine starter problems and would not be able to go.    Hearing this we were worried for them.   S/V Rebel, who was now being battered against the rocks of the jetty after breaking free from her mooring, also did not have a working engine to allow them to take evasive action to escape their tragic circumstances.      The three remaining boats began making their way out to the rendezvous point where we would meet Ellis.    While in route,  we got a call from Gordon on S/V Calmos 3.   His hydraulics were failing and he would not be able to raise his centerboard to allow him through the shallows into the lagoon and had to turn back.    We were down to 2 boats.   Us and a French speaking couple aboard a large Catamaran called Bird.   Rob from S/V Quatico was able to communicate with them,  the offer of being led into the lagoon in his broken French and their broken English.    But as we rounded the last buoy and tentatively began following Ellis’ Dive boat into the narrow channel through the reef,  they must have looked at their GPS and decided it was just too risky whereas they too turned back.   So here we were just Ellis and us.   Our Charts showed that we were heading into shallow waters of as little as 2ft depth but we were traveling in at high tide and we trusted Ellis’s local knowledge of the Reef.    We watched as he would periodically drop a weighted string over the side of his boat to double check depths as we moved through the narrow uncharted channel.     Moving into the protection of the reef the swell was minimal and the motoring was much easier.   We held our breath as we shadowed Ellis’ dive boat matching his track.  When we were safely over the shallows and into what matched our charts as 8ft of water we let ourselves breathe again.   We had watched our depth sounder as we crossed the charted shallows and never found ourselves in anything less than 6.5 ft.   We thanked Ellis profusely and invited him aboard but he declined our offer with a smile and a wave and said he had to return to take care of some other things that day.    As we motored slowly into this reef and mangrove protected lagoon, we could see the tops of the trees still swaying from the storms fury but water inside this lagoon was calm with only the ripples from our anchoring to disturb its glassy surface.   It was such a relief to know that DD was safe and protected.   We called our friends back in Store Bay to report that we had arrived safely and they promised to look out for s/v Faith in the event they found themselves facing s/v Rebel’s fate.     In the days following the storm our friend Dave on s/v Mistral reported to us that he had dived on our mooring in Store Bay to find that 2 of the 3 strands of Rope that secured it to the sand screw, were worn through and we were only being held by the remaining single strand.  We were very lucky!   The moorings have been placed so that boats will not anchor near or over the reef but they are not being maintained and as in poor Rebels case could give way at any time.   Word to anyone taking these moorings…….Do not trust them, dive them if you can.

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  1. Happy to hear you are safe. the storms just keep rolling off Africa! Hope you can ride out the season safely!! We will launch Kinvara at the beginning of November and do the Florida Keys this winter.

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