Whenever I raise Mystique's anchor, I usually expect it to be attached to the end of its chain. Most of the time whether on a windlass or winch, I expect it to have retained its weight. Rarely does it weigh more, but sometimes it Similarly, expectations can surface and become weighty as well. Sometimes they make something heavy even weightier!
At first glance, hoisting an anchor seems like such a simple, menial task. Just some willingness, power, strength, coordination with the skipper, maybe some timing. Just push a button, pull the bugger up and get going. But it isn't that simple with wind, current, other vessels and the unknowns that can catch or snag one unaware.
Pulling an anchor out of the depths of a seabed is more than a physical exercise; it can be a mental challenge as well. And as such, it can be metaphor reminder that out of the depths other submersibles can also emerge. Of course, if one is attached to the outcome of an anchor-raising, then he or she can be shocked to discover something more.
When Bernhardt and his nephew Roland heard about my anchor-dragging incident, they immediately volunteered their help. We discussed and dismissed retrieving it by dinghy - too difficult, too dangerous and weighty to pull up 150 feet of chain by hand even with two people. I had woken that morning with what I thought was a simple solution: move Mystique out of the Nassau marina, go to the gas dock and attach the chain back to the windlass and pull the anchor up and return and anchor in the eastern anchorage rather than a costly marina. They agreed it all sounded like a simple and reasonable exercise for all of us. But the best laid plans are only for mice and minor men. Sound plans don't usually consider the unexpected. Yet how can one know what is below?
As we were raising the anchor, a motor boater calls out "Bimini, Bimini, Bimini". I left the helm and scurried up to the bow to view hanging half-way-out of the water and twisted around the anchor chain under Mystique's trampoline low and behold is a discarded Bimini cover. It had attached itself (or was it the other way around?) to an old outboard awning. Our chain was a wrapped around three U-shaped metal bars still somehow holding onto its canvas covering. So we were stuck...raising it would tighten the chain and bring the bimini in contact with hull or trampoline; lowering it would make to loosen the chain wasn't possible as the down button on the windlass was uncooperative.
I could have dwelt in a WTF mode, a milder "you gotta be kidding!" or "who throws away their boats awning?" But I knew floating in an alternative unreality were secondary thoughts as the task-at-hand was figuring out the next steps, dealing with the cards we are dealt.
I immediately thought I could extricate it by jumping overboard so I stripped down to my underwear and prepared to jump in. But before I plunged into the 2+ knot current, we all concurred it was best for me to remain at the helm since I was the only one familiar with how to steer a catamaran. So Bernhardt stripped down and jumped overboard. A half hour later he climbed the bow and announced his efforts to untwist it were in vain. Too much chain tension! I suggested I move Mystique forward to take some tension off the chain, but that idea was nixed when Bernhardt suggested using a dinghy and hacksaw solution.
So while Bernhardt manned the helm, Roland and I lowered the dinghy and motored it around to the bow to saw away this mess. Ever play a violin while riding a balloon-bouncing roller-coaster? Trying to keep the dinghy steady and untangled with waves from gas dock motorboats and a pushing tidal current while sawing the 3 pipes and keeping the cut bimini parts away from puncturing a hole into my inflatable felt just like that.
Roland and I took turns sawing for close to an hour. Finally we cut through all three pipes, but the anchor chain still would not untwist the wreckage. We knew we were were close, but still attached. So, I returned Mystique's dinghy to its stern and me to the helm. The boat inexplicably drifted to the middle of Nassau Harbor as Bernhardt used the boat hook to push away the still hanging mess. This was puzzling as it felt we we no longer anchored, but the anchor was still below the bimini and still not in view. I knew we had another 50 feet of chain and anchor still to raise. Then suddenly, the bimini let go (or was it the anchor let go of it?) and we were free and finished the raising. Within a half hour I was anchored and we were ready for for the next challenge.
What I anticipated as an hour exercise turned into a four-hour puzzle. I could not have rescued Mystique's anchor without Bernhardt and Roland's assistance. Eternally grateful and treated them to lunch (closer to dinner) at the Poop Deck restaurant late afternoon. It felt to me like another example of how the universe brings strangers together for unknown reasons.
An anchor often rescues but it too needs to be rescued. When some long discarded item attaches itself to a weighty challenge, life isn't clear until it is. But it can always be interesting.
"Immediately after our arrival, we closed our friendship with Henry, a traveling sailer, already a few days here in Nassau anchors. He borrowed us also his navigation documents for the east coast of America (our next starting point).
When we gave him this the next morning was wanted to return his ship away. Hm, what was done with Henry? A little later we discovered it on a pier hard-bound. In the night had to be resolved and anchor ship was drifted. Only a few centimeters before a collision was he woke up and could still be in good time his ship in a place of safety.
We offer him our support for the clear of the anchor. This was anything but easy. Both anchors as ship were very close to the shore and the flow was enormous. Everything went according to plan - but with the anchor chain came suddenly also what large oblong brown to light.
At first we thought we on a submarine cable - but on closer inspection turned out to be this as a tangle of metal rods and material as a recessed Bimini Deck.
The anchor chain had a few times so wrapped. In the strong currents, it was not just everything to clear and at the same time the ship on position."