Last night we did our first ever anchor watch. Those Crazy Winds had got us again.
It started when we left the Greek island of Oinoussa to sail north east to Foca, Turkey. The forecast was for 14kts of wind from the north, so we had a beat out from the island, then a single tack to cross the top of the Karaburun peninsula, and then a broad reach to Foca.
At least that is what the forecast said.
It started off well. And then we had a nice lift on Port tack which took us straight out of the channel, and allowed us to make the Karaburun peninsula without tacking.
And then it disappeared. Gone. No wind.
So it was back to the trusy ol’ motor, as we completed the last 14 miles to Foca.
About a 5 miles out from our destination the wind picked up again, and we could sail once more.
Then, just as we arrived, the wind turned onto our nose and increased to 20kts.
We went to anchor at the north east corner of the bay, in about 4 meters depth, with dirt and weed on the bottom. That water was rather cloudy, so we couldn’t see the bottom well. We seemed to hook in well, and had a pleasant evening a night.
At about 6am as dawn was breaking, we heard the halyards slapping against the mast. Odd. that happens only when the wind is across the boat, not on the nose, as when we are at anchor. Then a few minutes later we started feeling some wave action. We got up to see what was going on, only to find us a quarter of a mile off the beach. The wind had picked up to gale force. Where was that on the forecast?
We had dragged.
Fortunately it was daylight. So we hoisted up our 40 meters of chain dangling below us, and went to find another place to anchor.
That didn’t go so well. Couldn’t find good holding. So we moved next to an Italian boat, who seemed to have survived the night, and told us to go there.
Once again we were firmly anchored. The wind had settled again, and we had a pleasant day.
In the evening the wind again picked up. This time with gusts up to 39kts, blowing offshore. We put on the anchor alarm, but we held firm. Until 10pm. We had just gone to bed and heard a scraping noise coming for our chain. A moment later the alarm went off. Once again, we were dragging.
We started the engine to stop the movement, and then debated what to do. There were several options:
1) we could try and re-anchor locally, but clearly the holding was poor around here.
2) we could try to find and pick up some of the mooring balls we had spotted the day before. But despite the full moon, it was dark, and the balls would not be easy to spot.
3) we could head offshore, maybe back to Oinoussa, which was downwind and so an easy sail with just the jib. But it was, literally, blowing a gale. And we weren’t too enthusiastic about a night sail.
While debating all this, we noticed that our anchor had caught again, and was holding us firm, despite those big gusts. So, we decided on a new tactic: just stay were we were and stay up for an anchor watch. Ceu would wait up the first part of the night while I got to sleep, and then we would switch over. Not much to do on anchor watch, since we had the anchor alarm as well. More a matter of one person being reasonably awake so the other could sleep, instead of both people worrying in bed and not sleeping. Except that I couldn’t sleep as I was thinking through all the alternative strategies – such as putting out a second anchor and so on – while the wind was howling through the rigging.
Well, at about 1am the wind started to die down, and by 1:30 all was calm and peaceful. So Ceu came to bed, and we had an uneventful rest of the night.
The next day we went ashore for some shopping and then decided we had had enough of Foca. We headed off in a very pleasant light wind (the forecast was for 16kts) and sailed north to a beautiful anchorage in Bedemli Liman. Sandy bottom. Well sheltered. And still calm winds. Hopefully it will stay calm through the night, too!
Over the next week we will cruise a bit further north, and then head back down south to Sigacik. We are trying to find a good place to stop so that Ceu can get to Izmir airport. Foca was on the list but failed the test. Hopefully Sigacik will work out better. We will let you know!