Sometimes you get to watch the show and sometimes you are the show. [A quote from our friend Dave.] Tonight, we got to watch the show – the anchoring show.
We had had a long, fifty-mile day with three bridges and numerous shoally inlets. We’d left under overcast skies with 15-20k from the north – right on the nose. But this part of the waterway is quite protected and it was predicted to lighten so we bundled up in socks, rubber boots, long pants, fleece and foul weather jackets and northward we went. Luck was with us as we got to the first bridge right before its once-an-hour-on-the-hour opening and the second one just before its half hour opening. We had to wait 40 minutes for the last bridge – fighting gusty winds and a strong current while we circled and steered back and forth in the channel, trying not to run aground or hit other boats. Waiting with us were two huge motor yachts, two other sailboats, a couple of trawlers and a partridge in a pear tree.
So we were happy, happy to finally reach our anchorage – the only one for forty miles. So were all of our bridge pals, except that they had arrived ahead of us, being faster. The anchorage is a basin that the miltiary dredges and uses, but lets boaters use as well – unless they don’t want to and kick you out. This evening we watched a Coast Guard buoy tender come in and tie to a big concrete dock. Later there were loud helicopters overhead, out of Camp LeJeune.
There were half a dozen boats already anchored when we reached the basin, including a huge motor yacht right inside the entrance named “Affaire,” French Canadian. All were facing north, crosswise from the entrance; we were expecting 10-20k from the north overnight. We anchored near the motor yacht and a good distance from the other boats, but “ahead” of them, i.e., to windward of them.
Later, two more boats arrived – at the same time, but clearly not “together.” One was a bit “well-travelled,” captained by a single-hander. He motored up just ahead of us and slightly off our starboard bow, let out his very small anchor and proceeded to back up with gusto. His anchor must have plowed a pretty deep furrow through the bottom – it never stopped the boat. He hauled it up and tried again. This time, he was closer to our boat, but not right ahead of us. And this time he didn’t back up so hard – just pushed his anchor over the side and ignored it. Smart because that way it wouldn’t plow the bottom – but it also wouldn’t set well. Guess he thought some things were better not known. Goldwin was watching him closely, concerned, but finally decided he was not positioned to drag on us.
The second boat was bigger and very well equipped – with a couple on board. First, it anchored between us and the motor yacht – too close to both of us, we thought. And maybe for that reason, he re-anchored. The second time, he anchored right in front – to windward – of the huge motor yacht.
Usually when someone anchors on top of you (which is what he did to “Affaire”), you walk up to the bow of your boat and glare at them until they take the hint and move. We were all waiting for a response from “Affaire” – French Canadian boats have a reputation on the Waterway and it’s not for subtlety. We were not disappointed. “The sailboat “Showtime” in front of me,” a very loud disembodied voice with a heavy French accent called out across the anchorage on an impressive PA system. “Mon ami, if you would please to come over to my boat, I will tell you where you can stick your anchor.”
Shocked silence from the anchoring sailboat – from all of us. Then, from our boat radio, on channel 16: “The sailboat “Showtime” in front of me. Mon ami, if you would please to come over to my boat, I will tell you where you can stick your anchor.” More silence. Finally, a woman’s voice from the sailboat answered – “up one.” [In radio parlance it is a request to switch from channel 16, reserved for hailing and distress, to a working channel, i.e., channel 17 in this case.] Everyone in the anchorage switched their radio to channel 17.
Again with the heavy French accent: “Mon ami, please to come over to my boat and I will tell you where you can put your anchor to have a fun night. You would like it better to have a fun night, no?”
Goldwin was collapsing with laughter. I tried to shush him – you know how sound travels over the water. But he was positively convulsing. I myself was quietly snorting.
The man with the French accent went on to explain that he was concerned – rightfully so – that the wind might come up and cause their boat to drag on his. The woman on the sailboat – hopelessly stuck in the middle – finally responded that “the captain” said their anchor was set. End of conversation.
It’s such a beautiful night – I hope no one drags. Goldwin is working on his French accent in case we need it in our next anchorage.