Monday, 7 August 2017

Anchor Watch in Paradise

For the first time in our sailing careers, Patrick and I sat out in the cockpit on “anchor watch” as the wind began gusting violently at 1 a.m. in Cala Calobra at the mouth of the Torrent de Pareis in northwest Mallorca. As we went out to survey the situation we saw that the other 10-15 boats sharing the cove all had at least 1 person in the cockpit or on the bow, checking the anchor and position relative to their neighbors. Within 15 minutes, 3 large yachts hauled up anchor and left. (To do what? Circle slowly offshore waiting for daybreak?)

To be fair, larger boats are at a disadvantage in these situations. They have a larger surface area above the water line and get pushed around by the wind more strongly than smaller boats. Their weight also means that the strain on the anchor and chain are greater. We didn’t think the situation justified leaving and we seemed to be holding quite well with our anchor in sand at 11 meters depth with 40 meters of chain and 12 meters of rode out (we would have liked to put out more but we were limited by our nearest neighbors.)

As we approached our nearest neighbor, a small 8 meter French boat, Patrick called out to the young skipper inspecting his anchor and asked how things were going. He said he’d had better nights. We asked how much chain he had out and he replied “25 meters + 10 meters of rode” but I was thinking of adding more. Yikes !! We suggested that MORE would be a good idea and informed him that we had 55 meters out. He added more rode and we felt much more comfortable for all concerned.

Comfort is such a relative word, though. At 3 a.m., we reached an all-time record: 34 degrees C / 93 F with only 25% humidity in the air, blowing past us in short-lived gusts up to 30 or 40 knots. The winds were from the southeast, and as we were on the northwest of the island, the wind picked up the heat from the sand and rock along the full length of the island before hitting us. It was like being blasted by a powerful hair-dryer. We could feel ourselves desiccating, turning into raisins. We kept dousing ourselves with water. The boat was dusted with fine red sand blowing off the island. Our eyes stung. Metal objects on the boat were hot to the touch. I tried sleeping in a wet towel.

As the morning progressed, the temperatures dipped down to a more manageable 31 C / 88 F. The weather forecast announced a high of 37 C / 100 F for the day. I enjoy hot temps in the day when I’m near water and can swim to cool off, but eating and sleeping become very problematic in these conditions.

The next day, we moved to Cala San Vicente and had the same phenomenon again: southerly blasts during the night with temperatures climbing and humidity descending. This time, however, we had the cove to ourselves and only 5 meters of water so we had fewer worries than in the deep and crowded Calobra.

We were told that the "torrent" is usually just behind this pool...when there's water.

Patrick let out a little cry of victory when I announced that this situation makes me nostalgic for Brittany!   


The Cynical Sailor said...

We've only had to do anchor watch a few times, thankfully. Never a fun activity.

Sailing Mareda said...

No fun, but we weren't sleeping anyway.