Monday, April 15, 2013

A Low from the Tasman Sea

At anchor now in Orakawa where we decided to hide out from the predicted storms. Forecasts, due to a deep low crossing New Zealand from the Tasman Sea, were predicting winds of 40 knots with gusts to 50 knots! Eeeeck. The winds were supposed to be from the northeast at first and slowly shift towards the west over a several day period. We had been watching the barometer drop steadily in the last day – from 1020hPa to 1010hPa.

Last night, it blew. And blew. And rained. And blew some more. It was gusty and Astarte was dancing on her 125 feet of chain and snubber in 20 feet of water. The holding is good here and there were eight sailboats in the bay along with one power yacht and a giant overnight tour boat. Around 2200 (10 pm), the gusts got stronger and we did drag probably 50 feet and re-held. We still had good room around us from other boats. The wind continued and we determined we should put all our chain out (it wasn't doing any good in the anchor locker) – so we figured out a plan to do it safely. Michael motored up as Barbara let out more chain. Then, as we got close to the end of the chain, we switched positions and Barbara took the helm and Michael went forward to let out some rode (rope) and tie it all off. Now we have 225 feet of anchor chain/rode out in 20 feet of water! We also prepared a second anchor, ready to deploy if needed. This entailed getting the Danforth anchor off the stern mount and carrying it up to the bow along with the chain and rode. This sounds easy, but remember it is blowing 40 knots and raining non-stop...oh, and dark! The barometer was now reading 1001.2 (and still dropping).

We did anchor watches all night. Everyone in the anchorage had anchor lights on and other boats had to re-anchor. There was a "Mayday" call on the radio – a 60 foot catamaran broke away from its mooring in Pahia and didn't have engine power to handle the wind. It ended up, luckily, on a sandy beach at low tide. It at least kept us awake with something to listen to. It all ended up well – as he safely sat on a sandy beach all night. This morning, lots of radio chatter as they are organizing a tow to get him off the beach at the high tide around 1130. He is 60 feet, aluminum and weighs 25 tons – so not a small feat in shallow water.

The wind has settled a bit this morning though we are still in gale warnings and it is supposed to be coming and going all day. A day of naps, perhaps bread making to keep the cabin warm!

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