I took George and James sailing, two kickass brothers who I had beaten at tennis … mhmm … well I won the tournament. Had 9 knots of wind and made steady progress away from the coast. About two miles from the coast the wind dropped and we made slow progress back eventually turning on the engine.
The tide was an hour after high slack tide 1800, with high tide being 3m I thought I would be safe risking it through the Alvor sand banks… how wrong I was. I headed directly for the green bouy, which you keep on your starboard side. I knew the water was deeper approaching it on the port side, even so we didn’t get far past the entrance before the sand kissed the keel. As the keel drove itself deeper into the sand bank I turned hard to port and tried to drive out of the bank with no success.
I rowed out, after getting the chain wrapped around my outboard, dropped the ketch anchor and started to winch her into deeper water … little did I know we were actually going into shallower water. By the time I had sounded the water around us for the deepest area the water had left Maria firmly lodged in the sand.
As the water retreated and the sand drew us deeper into it’s grasp I was worried what would happen having heard stories of water lapping over the cockpit coaming and filling the boat up … I was damned if I was going to lose my boat!! The tide was moving at a steady 3 knots we had 2 hours (2000) till low water and already we were over at 45 degrees.
We had to make a quick decision … we needed beer. High tide would be at 0300, I had no heating, it was going to be a long wait and once the sun goes down the temperature drops to 4C. A local fishing boat took James onboard to complete his quest of acquiring some food and beverages.
By 2000 the water had dropped to it’s lowest and I could walk around ankle deep, I had tried to use the spinnaker pole to keep the hull out of the water … which was a stupid idea. 4.5tonnes versus an aluminium pole is not a fair competition. At 1900 the traveller broke of the rail and we went down to list at a good 70 degree angle.
At this point we are moving pretty much sideways along the boat. We directed James over the phone to Tom who had invited me over to his boat for dinner … I had a good excuse – I was beached 1 mile away. To much amusement and jeering my dinner was kept warm in the oven till I was due back on the high tide at 0300, a bottle of whiskey would be waiting … not to mention the level of mocking only a Scottish man can lay down!
Simon another fellow sailor offered to motor James with essential supplies out to us. When they arrived I was walking around the boat and picked up the kedge anchor, 30 meters from the boat, and placed it on our starboard side which was standing high out of the water and would provide the quickest route home once we floated.
Beer, wine lots of episodes of Archer (best TV comedy show – ever) and the incoming tide started to relinquish the sands’ reluctant grasp on Maria returning us from a humorous right angle to a more steady horizontal that took some adjusting to. The boat behaved like the queen of the sea that she is, fully loaded with 350kg of water full to the brim with fuel, jerry cans and food she never let the sea dominate her above the genoa traveller.
Gracefully she stood tall again and scowled me for my doubt in her ability to deal with my inability to navigate through a small 2m trench that could possible have gotten me through on the lowering tide. Humbled I smiled while
shivering at the cold. The warm water and cold air produced ghosts which whisked over the water greeting the bow as she carved her way very slowly through the surreal landscape. As we got to our mooring a shout from Tom on a Rasmus 35 invited us over for a bottle of whiskey at 0200.
Would I risk it again …. yes, did I enjoy it … when I knew I wasn’t going to sink .. yes … it was a great experience and I enjoyed the company.