For the love of sun, I’m hard on the wind again. I’m on my way to Maskelyne Islands. I’m towing my old Avon dinghy behind me and my fridge is still thirsty for fruits and vegetables and beer. It’s bloody early in the morning, we weighed anchor and left the magic island while the electric yellow full moon was still hanging over the beach like a lantern.

I see small fires burning onshore. I can smell them too. My head feels like the static you hear between radio stations. We are in a rush to get down to the bottom of the dog because the wind is up and a lot of boats are meeting down there to go kiting- the Brazilian brothers, Bitchin Papa, the gay boys on the Oyster (an Irish, two Brits, and a Taiwanese) and the two of us. But I don’t have any gear and I don’t know what I’m doing, so I’ll just be watching them and looking for mermaids.

The wind is a fiesta. Strong enough to blow up a million balloons and break all the piñatas. For a brief moment I’m caught in the wind shadow of the magic island and going 2 knots, then the shadow evaporates and I’m hit with 26 knots of screeching wind and moving at 7 knots with a double reefed main!

I ride fast like that for a while then I panic and reef the genoa….I think I spend half of my life panicking. Panicking about the boat, about the wind, about the reef, about tomorrow, about the things I have yet to do, about the waste of my talent, about growing old.

It’s hard to reef the genoa because my wench is busted. The drum turns, but the part where the wench handle goes doesn’t budge. I am having to control it all by hand. There’s always something to fix!

I have to pee. You know my biggest fear? Getting stuck in my head. There is no hatch in there. What if I go in there one day and get stuck inside while I’m offshore! It would be an awful place to die in. I store all of my trash in there so it stinks and there is so little light. My only hope would be to crash into something and pray that somebody finds me and saves me from my own stinky head.

Hours fly by in fits of fear and sweat. I’m at the butt of the dog and almost to the reef pass for the Maskelyne’s. Holly is at the mouth of the pass already. She sends me a voice memo, “Hey, the tide is still going out. We’ve got tide against current and it’s making standing waves. Don’t rush to get here.” I’m right behind her. Already in the slosh. It’s a freaking nightmare. Tide rips. Turbulence.

I suck it up and plow through it while Juniper gets all tossed around. I could wait an hour for the tide to change, but I don’t want to. I want to get there. And if I want something bad enough, I’ll go on a witch hunt till I get it and can call it mine…. that’s just how I am.

The anchorage is called Sughulamp Reef. I hope it’s pronounced like Sugalamp. It’s a long reef with a small island on its southeast corner. The locals are fishing the reef in their kayaks, dugout canoes, and handwoven sailing vessels. The anchorage is a bit crowded for it’s size and it takes me a long while to find a shallow spot to drop in.

I see 7 meters and rush up to the bow to start letting chain out- which I do by hand mind you- but my chain is caught in the locker and by the time I’ve got 100 feet of it down, the water is too deep for my anchor to catch on anything, and I’m dragging backwards towards a reef.

I start cranking the chain back up and the boat is drifting drifting drifting towards the reef. Holy hell, I am three feet away from it! I see the mermaid tail of a dugong as I run back to the cockpit, throw the boat in gear, throttle up high, and steer away from the reef with 50 feet of chain still dangling.

While this is happening, a catamaran comes into the anchorage and snakes the spot I was trying to anchor in! Like they didn’t see me trying.

Why am I alone? I need more hands. I need an electric windlass. I need a new anchor that won’t drag. I need the man on the moon to fall out of the sky and into my bed. I need pamplemousse. I need a miracle maker. I need a genie in a bottle, baby. I need a new heart. I need a head that won’t crumble. I need a cactus tongue. I need a rainbow to fly out of my seashell. I need…..

I run back to the bow – which by the way looks like a murder scene because my anchor chain is so rusted that it has left bloodstained marks all over my deck and body. You should see my hands and face. I look like a serial killer that never bathes.

Anyway, I’m cranking, cranking, cranking, and my heart is puffing -and the windlass sounds strange and then I see something fly off of it. I look down. I have broken a bolt off the freaking chain stripper and bent the metal on it, so now the windlass won’t work right.

Duck it all! I leave what there is of the chain still in the water and weave my way up to the anchorage again. I wedge in between two catamarans and drop in five meters. The anchor sets. What a workout!

I spend the afternoon snorkeling around and looking for dugong to no avail. Then I just sit in the boat and freak out over my chain stripper and wench. How am I gonna fix it all fast? Right now I don’t have the energy to move a muscle. The most I can do is muster enough juice to look at the manual for the windlass. I get to the page with the exploded diagram and I am more confused. What kind of puzzle is this? How do people understand these things? I might as well be trying to read a foreign language!

It’s 8 PM and there is no moon, thus no man to fall into my bed, and wow the wind is here. 20 something knots. It feels great blowing through the boat, but it sounds dreadful. I keep running up on deck to make sure I’m not dragging. I had a dream the other night that my boat dragged all the way to Africa. I often dream that my boat drags, but there was something about this one that seemed more real than the rest, so I’m on high alert for it to happen.

I am laying on the settee playing chess and I just heard something clunking, clunking, clunking, and Juniper jerked around like a fish in a bucket. I lose the game on purpose and run out on deck. I have dragged about 50 feet and I’m in deep water now. With the windlass broken and me on my own, I can’t pull the anchor up in this wind and re-set it, so I just let out the rest of my anchor line and pray that it holds.

I make it through the night without moving, but wake up feeling like I slept on a pile of jagged rocks. I don’t want to go, but I have to go. It’s not safe or comfortable here. That’s the thing about living on a boat. Sometimes you have to move when you don’t want to, other times you can’t move when you want to. And a boat is just like a body, it’s only as good as it’s anchor is. Can it stay rooted to the earth in all conditions? That’s what you want. Otherwise your a shipwreck.

At 7 AM I have Holly and her boyfriend, Dan, come over to help me get the heck out of the windy devil place. We take turns pulling up the anchor and steering, then motor towards an anchorage tucked behind a little island just north of us, where the wind looks mellow.

4 Replies to “I DRAG ANCHOR”

  1. You will never get stuck in your head Fabulous Adventure Woman!! There will always be a place on the horizon for Juniper to go! You need no one to survive. You are amazing!!

  2. Damn those instruction manuals. I hope AI does a better job at technical writing haha! Grounded in your body, I bet you can fix the windlass. Tinker away… until the time its fixed you will pump up those biceps! I know its a safety thing though… so good fortunes on fixing it. Sending a virtual snuggle of encouragement. Your heart is so full so keep that one. You have all you need inside 🙂

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