What do you do if the family that moves in next door to you turn out to be bad neighbors? Fortunately for us, we have the luxury of simply moving our boat if we find ourselves too close to those we don’t like. This situation is exactly what we found ourselves having to do yesterday.
It’s been exactly two weeks today since we arrived in Dominica and we were quite happy with our chosen anchor spot. When we first arrived we carefully picked an area away from other boats and dropped our Rocna in a nice patch of sand. After waiting an appropriate amount of time for the wind and waves to do their thing, Rebecca dove on the anchor to make sure it was well set. The winds have been blowing during our stay here, sometimes up to 40 knots, testing the holding power of our ground tackle, and happily we haven’t budged. We were close enough to shore that we felt no normal person would choose to anchor right in front of us, especially given how much free space is available in the bay. Until yesterday that is.
Just as we were sitting down to lunch a single-hander on an old steel cutter named Saga, that had rust stains running down the hull by the bow, came and anchored right in front of us, and directly beside another larger charter cat (who’s owners were not on board at the time to take notice). As would have it, the wind had just picked up and it was blowing 20-25 knots at the time. I was immediately unhappy with the situation and went out on deck to voice my displeasure. The captain on board proceeded to ignore me and went below, not even paying attention to how close he was swinging towards the other cat. Both Rebecca and I sat there on our bow for some time, dumfounded, waiting for him to reappear. When he finally did, I told him that I felt he was too close but again he ignored me and went below.
To say that I was unhappy at this moment would be an understatement. I lowered our dinghy down into the water and set off to go have a talk with this guy. I think it’s only fitting that I point out that this is the only time I have ever felt compelled to do this! I may have been unhappy with how close some people have anchored to us, and have even gestured at them once or twice, but not this.
After arriving at the guys boat and yelling to get his attention a few times (he was again down below), he came out on deck. Even though the boat had Danish markings the captain spoke French making for a bit of a language issue. He seemed totally oblivious to the fact that he was too close. He admitted that he might be too close to the other catamaran but to us, definitely not! As best I could, I explained that when the winds die around here, and they do almost daily, the boats in this part of the anchorage tend to swing around, and that his steel boat would not mesh well with the two cats right around him. That didn’t phase him. At long last I said that if he was unprepared to move, we would move, telling him that I was not willing to leave our boat anchored directly behind him. He shrugged and said OK. Quite unhappy but unwilling to drag this into any more of an extended confrontation, I returned to our boat and we proceeded to raise anchor. To give you an idea of how close he was, he had to motor forward bringing in what I assume was at least half his anchor rode just so that we could retrieve ours, he was right over top of it.
After moving to the large open space right beside us (that he could have — should have — chosen) and setting our anchor, we were visited by the captain of another catamaran who witnessed this whole exchange. He too was French and I had difficulty understanding all that he was saying. The best I could gather was that he had witnessed this same guy/boat do exactly the same thing at some other time in Martinique. The above should serve as evidence that the newbies chartering boats do not hold all the stock in anchoring blunders. Old salty sailors can be rude idiots too!