After a long wait, we finally got the right weather to cross from Lake Worth to the Bahamas. We were well prepared and provisioned, even had the time to get a new hefty anchor chain -- 150 feet of G4 7/16" chain. By waiting we had an uneventful crossing, went through the Fleeming (Fleming?) Channel at night (no issues) and puttered into Rock Sound on Sunday 3 January.
Wednesday night, 6 January, a derecho came right through Eleuthera. A derecho is a straight line storm with incredibly strong winds. We clocked winds of 46 knots (around 70 mph) which was about what we had when we sat out Hurricane Arthur in 2014. Unfortunately, this was a LOT worse. (Other people in Bahamas saw between 70 and 100 knots!!!) We were in a bigger body of water this time with a long fetch creating HUGE waves over the bow. The bouncing of the boat in the water was fierce. We broke our chain snubber (the line and hook that hold the anchor chain, taking tension from the chain and windlass -- see photo of recovered end of snubber), so the chain played out. By the time we got organized to replace the snubber, all the chain had broken free of the boat and we lost the chain and anchor.
Of course it is nighttime, so we have a hard time seeing, but we had to start roaming the anchorage to stay in deep water (much of the water in this sound is too shallow for us). John prepared our secondary anchor -- he had to tie it onto the anchor line in the sheets of rain and spray coming at him. He almost lost his glasses overboard, so put them in the cockpit and finished the job without seeing clearly! Patti was driving the boat, trying to keep it from going up on the rocks while the huge winds and waves pushed us every which way.
In one of his passes through the cockpit, John said our dinghy (which was tied to the back of the boat) was upside down. Which meant that the engine was submerged and everything stored in the bow locker was now gone. We had kept the dinghy down, because we thought there would be too much windage if we had it up on the davits. With the predicted winds being 20-30 knots, with +5 knots in squalls, we thought it would be better to let the dinghy ride behind the boat in the water. Well, maybe we were wrong about that. So now we are roaming the anchorage with an upside down dinghy.
After about an hour we were able to deploy the secondary anchor and stop the boat. But, there was no way to get into the water (in the dark and stormy) and right the dinghy. So we had to leave it till morning.
Next morning, Thursday, winds were still about 20, but we were able to move to a better spot and re-anchor. A couple of cruisers came by in their dinghys and helped us by taking our turtled dinghy and flipping it over for us on the beach. Now we were able to get our motor off the dinghy and start the process of trying to save it by cleaning out the salt water. The water was still rough, so we were not able to search for the chain and anchor, but we anchored fairly close to where it should be. (We had GPS location info from the chartplotter.)
Friday, we found the chain and anchor. One of the guys gave us a grapple hook that John trailed over the dinghy while Patti rowed in the location where we thought it should be. After about a half hour, eureka!, we found it. We tied a fender to the chain as a float and were just trying to figure out how to get it back onto the boat when the cavalry arrived. Another cruiser spent about 2 hours helping us get the chain to the boat. Once we found the end, we were able to get it over the bow roller and use the windlass to crank it all back onto the boat. We pulled up the 'lost' anchor, then pulled up the secondary anchor, and re-anchored with the primary.
We spent the next week working on the dinghy motor, rinsed it with fresh water, replaced the oil (twice), replaced the gear grease, replaced the spark plugs and shot water out of the spark plug holes, removed the carburetor, rinsed, cleaned, and dried every nook and cranny (probably took the carb apart about 6 times...), and got it working. Then we had another cold front, put the motor on Anhinga's rail, and waited out the storm. A couple of days later, remounted the motor on the dinghy, and guess what. It wasn't working. Then the ultimate insult. As we were putting it back on the rail to work on it, all the seals and gaskets must have let go and oil sprang from everywhere! We looked at each other and knew it was the end.
We called Trevor Pinder of Pinder's Marine in Deep Creek, Eleuthera, and asked him to get us a new Yamaha. He said if we told him we wanted it, and could come up with the cash (not easy in Eleuthera, but that's another story) he would get it on the mailboat that day and it would be on our dinghy the next morning! Trevor came through for us. We took possession of the new Yamaha 15 hp 2-stroke on 19 January.
So ends our tale of woe. But we can't finish the story without giving thanks to the ladies at the Wild Orchids restaurant, especially Colleen, Crystal, and Shavell, who lived through this with us on a daily basis -- letting us use their phones, and smiling when we needed it. And of course the other cruisers who gave us their brawn, their equipment, and moral support -- thank you Lucky One, Runaway, Barefootin', Sophia, and Re Metau. We didn't feel so lost with you around.
Rock Sound west: 24d51.732'N 76d11.140'W
Rock Sound east: 24d51.849'N 76d09.818'W
Rock Sound during derecho: 24d51.291'N 76d09.759'W
Rock Sound east again: 24d52.055'N 76d09.899'W
(there were 2 more reanchorings in Rock Sound...but this is enough!)