26 Nov 2015

24/11/15 : Nightmare night in St Marys, Georgia

We had one of our best sails of recent weeks in many ways moving from Brunswick to St Marys being all in the daylight and timed to enter/exit channels with the tide rather than against it, add in pleasant winds and seas that were more sensible than recently, all in all a good sail.  Until we were approaching St Marys that is.

The nautical charts stop half a mile before reaching the town anchorage but we knew that the channel had depths of 5 metres so it should have been no problem.  What we didn't know is that the charts for the half mile before they ended were wrong, showing deep water where in fact it was shallow and vice versa.  We ran aground as did the catamaran in front of us!  Fortunately we weren't going very fast and after several minutes of manoeuvring managed to break free and follow a ferry boat through the unmarked channel.  Phew.  We anchored in good depths and looked forward to a few days at anchor.

We know that the rivers around here have quite strong currents and so anchored well away from other boats.  Just before 1 1pm that night, we were woken by the sound of voices and air horns going off.  In high winds blowing counter the current it seemed like the whole anchorage was awake.  Our anchor held but we watched with a degree a horror as another boat dancing in the current headed our way and hit us full length.  Fortunately had been able to put fenders in place and so no damage was caused but despite hammering on his hull, no - one appeared and after a short while the boat drifted away.

We thought it was dragging it's anchor but it turns out it wasn't, just swinging wildly on its chain, and within five minutes it swung back and hit us again!  We realised we needed to move but being in uncharted waters it wasn't an easy proposition.   That said we inched our way to another area and set the anchor.  We seemed to be secure and after 30 mins or so went to bed, just gone midnight.

The winds continued to howl and less than two hours later we felt a gentle bump and shot out of bed.  To our horror we now were wrapped around the bridle of a catamaran.  We initially thought he had dragged in the current but it turned out we had slowly moved and caught him.  The bridle was wrapped around our rudder so we were well and truly tangled.

To cut a long story short we were able to get free and moved away to anchor somewhere else, only to run aground again.  Absolute nightmare!  Fortunately we were able to reverse off the shoal and at this point, with boats still swinging this way and that, decided to head for a marina dock ... Safe harbour .... and docked there at 3am.  What a night.

That morning two other boats joined us on the dock.  Of the boat that had hit us twice there was no sign.  We checked Tumi over and fortunately there is no damage.

Later in the afternoon another boat approaching St Marys ran aground and was left listing at about 10 degrees for a few hours until the tide rose and a local tow boat was able to free them.  They are now berthed behind us having heard in advance about the tricky anchorage.  All in all a memorable 24 hours!