sailing homepage : trip reports : 2: baja-haha : day9: bahia santa maria

Nov 7, day 9: Anchor fails - drifting to the rocks and saved, recover anchor later, beach party and hiking

The Wanderlust crew were all fast asleep, enjoying their full tummies and a night at an anchorage instead of on the open seas. At about 4AM, Briana and Sara awoke to the distant sound of an airhorn and quickly fell back to sleep, with the thought that the pirate ship next door was having way too much fun.

A few minutes later we were all woken by banging on the hull. "ANYONE HOME?!!? YOU'RE DRIFTING INTO THE ROCKS!" We sprung into action. Will was up and out the forward hatch like the boat was sinking. Sara blindly spent the next 2 minutes searching for her glasses. Briana and Sean were up and into the cockpit. Switches were thrown and the engine roared to life. Our saviour slipped away into the night - we never found out who he was.

We were drifting free. Wanderlust had slipped through the pack of boats surrounding our anchor spot and was heading for the rocky shore surrounding the anchorage. We had deployed approximately 170ft of rode in the 40ft-deep anchorage, which meant we had our 45# Bruce attached to the sea floor, followed by 100' of chain (160#), followed by 70' of nylon line (20#).

Will started to haul the anchor up, pulling the nylon line onboard, but encountered no resistance. Sean and Briana took the helm and drove us away from the shore while Sara joined Will at the bowsprit. The splice joining the line to the chain had separated. There was no anchor or chain at the end of the rode; it was lost! We were all upset, driving in circles, trying to understand what had happened and what to do about it.

Sean and Sara switched, Sean moving to the bowsprit to help Will prepare the #2 anchor, our crappy CQR, while Sara went aft to help Briana find a new place to re-anchor. The boys un-lashed the CQR and moved the rode and chain around the headstay, into the #1 anchor position, to take full advantage of the windlass. All of this while wearing only underwear, of course.

We motored back to our original anchor spot and dropped the CQR. It took us three devastating attempts before it set, each time we motored into position, stopped the boat, dropped the anchor, and backed up slowly while carefully releasing line to a 2:1 or 3:1 scope (ratio of rode to depth). We then fixed the line and powered back on the anchor, but it wasn't until the fourth go around before the damn hook set and we could further increase our scope.

We switched on the anchor alarm (first time!) and all went to bed exhausted, wondering what the hell had happened with the splice and what we could have done differently. At about 6AM the alarm started going off and Briana woke Will, saying that she thought we were dragging again. Luckily, it was a false alarm, we had made the warning distance too close, but it reminded everyone how fortunate we had been earlier that morning.

We were up at our usual time with a new mission: recover our chain and Bruce anchor. The water was too deep - and the visibility too poor - to attempt a free dive recovery. On the Haha VHF radio net at 9AM, Wanderlust radioed in to thank our unknown guardian angel who had woken our boat, and asked for assistance getting the anchor and chain back. Two boats volunteered to come with their scuba gear: Sosiego and Walela.

Will working the GPS


Sean ready to snorkel

We were very fortunate in that we had set a waypoint where we originally dropped the anchor, and our GPS 'track' feature had recorded the position the boat had drifted back to. Will plugged these points into our handheld GPS, hopped in Purpeat, and dropped our dinghy anchor with a float attached to mark the approximate centre position of the anchor chain.

Carl from Walela


Joe and Matt from Sosiego

Carl and Marilyn from Walela were first to arrive, both were very energetic and excited about the challenge. We really enjoyed their energy! Carl started diving right away, working several different search patterns underwater. Joe and Matt, Joe's 15-year old son, from Sosiego arrived next. They dove in a slightly different spot and continued the search.

Just fifteen minutes later, Carl had found and retrieved the anchor chain. He pulled the damn thing up from the sea floor! We hauled it into our dinghy, and by 11AM, our Bruce anchor and chain was back onboard. We had all learned a scary lesson: always doublecheck the anchor and rode. We were so happy to have escaped safe and sound; shaken, not stirred.

Carl with the anchor chain


Bruce and chain retrieved!

We all had long leisurely swims and cockpit showers. We had the same equipment we had yesterday, we were anchored in the same spot, but the air smelled better, the sea and sky were bluer, and we had a totally different outlook on life. By 1PM, the 'Lusters were confident enough to leave the boat and head into shore for the beach party. We hailed a panga, tossed in our garbage (which was smelling more than anything you could imagine), and jumped in ourselves.

The party spot, overlooking the anchorage


The 80's-loving band

The party was a true beach party - there were only a few buildings in the entire bay - we landed on sand and climbed up to a grassy plateau overlooking the boats. Sara considered kissing the ground, but thought better of it due to the rushing surf and breaking waves.

The beer line


The unbelievable food line

All went into party mode. Will lined up to get everyone a beer, while the others joined Bruce and Noah who were saving us 'our' spot in the huge food line. Thanks guys! The food smelled DELICIOUS! Seafood with garlic, butter, and tortillas. Since Lobster season had ended the week earlier, everyone expected some white fish. Imagine how delighted they were to see the lobster tails being grilled along with shrimp and other delicious morsels. YUMMY!

Our gracious cooks


Our delicious bounty

After stuffing their tummies, Will and Sean decided to go on another epic hike, leaving the girls to start a dance party, roam the beach, and carve their names into the sand. The boys headed up into the hills above the party spot, originally intending to just get a better view.

The party spot from ahigh


Bahia Santa Maria anchorage

This time, Will and Sean left the cacti alone. They climbed higher, claiming two, then three, peaks past the first.

Sean heading up up up


Higher and higher

The hike turned epic. We summited a few hours later.

Sean at the top!


Heading back down

By the time they had returned, Sara and Briana had spent the last of their centavos and were a) ready for more beer, b) ready for more dancing, or c) ready to go back the boat. Will and Sean smartly satisfied the girls by getting more beer, and Will took Sara on a long walk along the beach while Sean and Briana found Noah and began a marathon dance-fest.

Sean, Noah and Briana on the dance floor


Briana shakes it, just a little bit

Sara and Will decided to go back to the boat for some chill time (aka: fix the anchor time) while Sean and Briana partied it up. They were back early enough though, since the following morning was the start of the final Haha leg to Cabo.