Everyone seems to have their own line-around-the-prop story. We have been largely spared from things like this, our only prop incident being self-inflicted with some fishing line. We did pick up a float line once on our rudder, during a passage to St. Martin. In that case, we didn’t even realize that it had happened and thus might have been dragging the length of rope for hours. Yesterday, we were not quite so lucky.
Leaving the shelter of our Nevis anchorage.
Just a couple of hours out from Nevis, motorsailing in anything but calm seas, we heard a loud bang. We quickly realized that something was up when our starboard engine shut down. When we opened the hatch to look at the engine, we found that it was in its tilted-up position instead of in the water where it was supposed to be. Not only that but I couldn’t get it to go back down. It didn’t take too long for us to figure out that we had picked up a float line.
As anyone who has had to do this before will tell you, it’s not such an easy task to fix this situation. The only things we had going for us were that we were far from any hazards and that it was daylight. We first had to drop all of our sails to stop the boat but even after doing that, we were still drifting along at about a knot, and pitching up and down quite a bit in the waves. Given the above, there was no way I felt like just jumping into the water with a knife to attack the line. I first found myself a non-inflatable life jacket and after donning that, I tethered myself to the boat. Before getting in the water, I was reminded of the suggestion our friend John gave us about wearing a bike helmet when involved with a maneuver like this. Why a helmet? Because the boat moves up and down quite a bit in certain wave conditions and getting hit in the head while in the water would not be good. Do I have such a helmet? No, but I was mindful of my head, that’s for sure. It took a few trips into the water but I was ultimately able to free the line and float which had not only wrapped around our prop but had also lodged itself behind our rudder.
Why didn’t we see the float to avoid it? Simply because picking up white floats in seas with white caps everywhere when you’re cruising along at 5 or more knots is not all that easy.
Our new treasure.
These little floats are pretty hard to pick out!
Anyway, that drama behind us, we merely had to put up with the less-than-ideal sailing conditions. Yes, it was sunny, where we were, but that’s about all that was good. The wind never did back to ENE as was forecast (big surprise). Instead it remained almost on our nose. Additionally, the seas were akin to an amusement park ride. That, or a mechanical bull in a western bar, I’m not sure which. There’s not much one can do in a situation like that though but sit back and do your best to enjoy the ride. We did our best and happily made it to Montserrat in time to not only clear in but also to arrange for an island tour later this morning. Do you think they’d let us hike the volcano?
Fortunately, we dodged this rain.
The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean…
It’s not hard to see why it’s called that.