British Columbia the Inside Passage

Pender Harbour, Mainland BC

Sunday, October 14, 2012S.V. CAMBRIA

A chart of Pender Habour showing where we were anchored (Purple) and our final set (Red).

It was a dark and stormy night.  Too dark.  And too stormy.  But these things always seem to happen that way. 

We knew it was coming.  The forecast was for an intense frontal system to move across Central and Northern waters and a trailing cold front to cross Vancouver Island yesterday bringing storm force southeasterlies ahead of the frontal system.  For our area, a gale warning was issued during the afternoon forecast with southeast winds predicted to reach speeds of 40 knots before diminishing later today.  And that’s exactly what happened. 

I have no idea when the wind picked up; but we must have been lying in bed for hours listening to it howl, David getting up from time to time to check on things.  When he didn’t come back to bed, I got up myself.  He had set up an anchor watch with all the instruments and radar on.  Everything looked fine, so I laid down again but it was short-lived.  Before long, David started the engine:  We were dragging anchor. 

The wind was blowing a steady 25 – 30 knots with higher gusts bearing on the beam of the boat causing us to slowly “zigzag” down the anchorage.  The anchor reset “on the fly” in mid-bay and held for about 30 minutes before releasing again.  That was at 4:00 am.  Somewhere in the process, David let out close to 100 metres of chain –almost everything we have aboard – with a full-length snubber (a hook and line used to take the strain and act as a shock absorber).   This time it held but not before we’d moved 0.4 nautical miles into the centre of the bay, beyond Maidera Park and the only other vessel at anchor – a 70 odd-foot converted fishing trawler.

I stayed up until about 6:00 am; David until first light around 7:00 am.  It had already been a long night and the wind was showing no signs of abating.  But the anchor was well-set and we stayed in bed until after one o’clock, getting up every half hour or so to check on things. 

The conditions had settled enough that I was finally able to get Sally to shore around 2:00 pm and discovered that power was down in the villages.  While on shore, I considered our options:  We could (a) stay put, (b) move to another anchorage or (c) go to one of the marinas.  As it turned out, David was doing the same thing and had already made the decision: We were going to tie up. 

It was crazy to think the windlass could handle the task of hauling 100 metres of 10 mm chain and a 45 pound anchor in its current condition, but we gave it a try anyway.  I don’t think it managed to bring up ten metres before the gear box gave out and we took over the job –cranking the chain up metre by metre with the help of a manual winch.  The procedure took more than half an hour, but we did it.  And now we’re safely tied up to the dock waiting for the next round of bad weather – another night of 25 to 45 knots from the southeast. 

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