Bad things come in three’s

We were just about to set off from Dartmouth this morning at 7am and as we started to pull up the anchor found it was stuck on something.  Trying to free it we realised it was the chain caught up and not the anchor, harbour patrol came out and helped push our stern around as we were fighting against the incoming tide, but going around in a circle twice both ways hasn’t seemed to free it from whatever we’re caught around.  So we’re waiting for another harbour guy to come on shift so the two of them can run a big D shackle down the chain, enabling them to hopefully unhook it from whatever it’s wrapped around.  Great.  And there we were last night congratulating ourselves on our first time anchoring the boat, and ‘oh how well its held!’ ha!  We’ve missed our slot to be able to get back to the Exe for high tide which is at 12pm, so we’re here for another day even if we do manage to free it.  Ben’s pessimism is leading him to think he’ll have to dive on it himself…hmmm.  We’ll see what happens when the harbour guys come back out.

The other two things that happened were firstly the night before we left the house to move back aboard I was cooking dinner and managed to leave a towel close enough to the gas hob that it caught alight….this was a brand new kitchen that Ben had fitted the week before and it’s burnt a big enough patch in the wood that he’s had to rip out the whole length of worktop around the oven and replace it…as if he didn’t have enough to do (sorry Ben).

The second was that after being put back in the water and reversing out into the estuary we heard an almighty bang and had hit a rock what we thought was somewhere along the starboard quarter.  Much swearing, and panic on my part, ensued as we got the boat back in the hoist and lifted her back out so we could see any damage.  Thankfully we’d only hit the bottom of the rudder but it had made such a noise we thought we done some real damage!  Ben reckons he overcompensated for the prop walk that normally sends our stern to port.

Hopefully that’s it on the bad luck front for now.  Everything’s sent to test us and it’s all a good learning process…will update if we ever get this bloody chain untangled!

UPDATE: So the harbour patrol came out with backup and they tried to push and pull us using their ribs to try and untangle the chain…to no avail.  So they bought the barge out with a crane on and attempted to pull the chain free.  They warned us it might snap, which it did, so there went our anchor to the bottom of the harbour along with around 15m of chain.  They said they were pulling against about 3 tonnes of weight so whatever it was stuck on was huge.

Just before our anchor chain snapped

We slunk over to a pontoon and moored up feeling quite dejected and down, especially  as it would cost around £1000 to replace.  After a mopey couple of hours Ben decided he’d at least have a try to recover it and hatched a plan to drag a grappling hook along the bottom from our tender, and attempt to either pull it up or at least mark it with a buoy so we knew where it was.

We went back and forth across the anchorage really slowly, with me steering and Ben trailing our homemade hook , and after a few goes we dragged up a massive old fishing net! Then an old sunken dingy.  Eventually we caught a couple of times on what we knew must be our chain as it was in the right position to where we originally anchored.  It took a few attempts for the hook to properly catch and then Ben managed to drag up most of the chain into the boat, however it weighed about 40kg so we left it attched to our biggest fender we had brought along and came back in Bora Bora.  We then pulled it up with the hook as if it were a mooring ball and fed it through the windlass so we could pull it in that way.  After breaking the chain must have unwrapped itself from whatever it was stuck on as we winched in the whole lot along with our anchor, yay!!

The homemade anchor rescue kit

We felt pretty damn impressed with ourselves then…perserverance pays off! We certainly couldn’t afford a new anchor and chain so now we just need to get this one fixed back together.


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