26 Feb 2011

[Captains Blog] Granda Anse D'Arlet, Martinique

Having been up all night once again on anchor watch as the winds gusted up to force 8 and boats dragged all around us, it is a good time to reflect on the events of the past 16 hours. We arrived into Martinique after a reasonable crossing in 25 knot winds with 2 reefs in the mainsail to drop anchor in Grande Anse D'Arlet at around 5pm. As usual, I swam over the anchor to make sure that we were dug well in, and it appeared that we were. However, the winds started to increase and just before dinner, we realised that our anchor wasn't set solidly and was slipping. We upped anchor immediately and had 2 attempts at re-setting it before we were satisified that the holding was good.

Then the winds increased to beyond 30 knots and we decided that we wouldn't get much sleep, I headed off to bed to get a couple of hours rest and perhaps some sleep as the boat was being tossed around like a cork, swinging wildly on her anchor, and Debra stood the first watch. During the night, a large three-master dragged both its anchors and was heading out towards the sea before they had noticed. They had three further attempts to re-set before they managed to find a secure spot, as did a few other smaller boats.

We continued to sway from side to side in the gusting winds which by 3:00am had increased to nearer 40 knots, but our anchor with 50 metres of chain out held firmly. The daylight showed a yacht has been washed up on the shore out towards the edge of the bay, which definitely wasn't there last night. All scary stuff, but my view is that the weather patterns we are currently experiencing and which have been prevailing since we got here have washed away the sandy deposits in the anchorages which give good holding, and what looks like sand is either very shallow deposits, or is in fact dead coral. Neither of these will hold an anchor for long. Now that we have a decent spot, we are staying put until the winds abate, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day. Who knows?  But to be on the safe side we have let out another 10 metres of chain and so we shouldn't be going anywhere and might even get a night's sleep tonight .... I certainly hope so.