We are on the island of Tahuata, just SW of Hiva Oa, at anchor in Hana Moe Noa Bay. This was rated by the late Eric Hiscock to be one of the three most beautiful anchorages in all of Polynesia. He was right. Picture a stage set for "South Pacific:" a coconut palm-fringed white sand beach ringed by mountains, with water so clear you can easily see more than 30 feet down. We blink and it's still there! Amazing!
Zulu and Sockdolager finally shared an anchorage, and we enjoyed a sumptuous potluck feast and 2-guitar singalong with Brian and Marlene on their lovely gaff yawl's spacious deck last night. We talked at length about the passage, and found we'd shared much of the same weather and many of the same difficulties. They told us that the Japanese couple on Gaku, whom we'd met briefly at sea, had said that their passage from Mexico to the Marquesas was harder than their 52-day crossing of the Pacific from Japan to Prince Rupert, Canada—wow! There was another friendly boat here: Amnesia II from Australia, with Alan, Lisa and Jesse aboard; on the first evening in Hana Moe Noa Bay, the crews of Sockdolager and Zulu enjoyed a rendezvous and great conversation aboard Amnesia, and we remember every detail. Hope we meet up with them again.
Next we encountered some folks whom we'll just call The Blunderers. They're the inspiration for the title of this post. With only 4 boats at anchor in a rather large bay, you'd think it would be easy to find a spot, especially after one of the boats left. It's astounding that some people can cross an ocean and still make a total bollocks out of anchoring. The Blunderers are on a "42.2" foot sloop. For some reason they were attracted to Sockdolager like we were flypaper, even though their boat was nearly twice our size and the available anchoring room was half the size of a small county. They dropped anchor right off our bow and then retrieved it when it became obvious that they were going to hit us if they persisted. Jim went up on deck to initiate the stinkeye, and I did the same from the cockpit, but to no avail. Some people are immune to the stinkeye. The Blunderers motored directly ahead of us and dropped their anchor right ON TOP of ours. (I had dived on it so we knew where it was.) We were pretty sure they'd snagged our anchor, so Jim called over, "You're right on top of our anchor!" They waved a breezy acknowledgement and proceeded to move away by dragging their anchor backwards over the bottom. By some miracle they didn't drag us along with them because they'd somehow missed our anchor.
Another half-hour of The Blunderers motoring in circles right near us set my nerves on edge. What's wrong with the rest of the bloody bay, I muttered. But after three more close-call tries, they finally set their anchor. They were close, but it would be okay if the wind held in the same direction. In the early evening we dinghied over to Zulu for the aforementioned potluck, and saw The Blunderers letting out more chain when they swung too near us. Amnesia II left for Ua Pou about an hour before dark, which freed up the primo spot in the anchorage. With one eye on The Blunderers, we enjoyed our evening, returning to Sockdolager after dark. The Blunderers were far enough away from Sockdolager to let us feel we could get some sleep, so we did. But early this morning we were awakened by a woman's voice… in our cockpit. "STOP!" yelled Mrs. Blunderer.
Huh? Stop what? Rushing up to the cockpit while still half asleep is never a good idea. Their big bow hovered over our starboard side, and Mrs B just stood there on her boat, looking down at me and Sockdolager like she'd just encountered a roadkill. I hate it when I don't wake up fast, snappy comebacks are impossible. Their anchor chain led under our boat, which should have been no surprise. "Your boat is over our anchor rode," she called. No Duh, lady. Without a word to them, I called down to Jim that we should pull ourselves forward so they could leave, and he got up, got dressed, and went to the foredeck. I stayed in the cockpit in case we had to fend them off. Whew, they're leaving.
"Gee!" they chirped, "We really didn't mean to wake you up so early, after your party! Sorry about that!" We did not reply, "Oh that's okay," because it wasn't okay. But it was only polite to move Sockdolager forward so that they could leave, so we moved. But they didn't leave. They just motored over to the primo spot and dropped anchor there.
Message to "42.2" foot sloop: Learn. To. Anchor. You are a menace to everyone. And stop handing out false apologies.
Just as other drivers present the greatest highway risks, other vessels anchored poorly are the biggest risk to a cruising boat. Anchoring well is a fundamental skill. It is also the most frequent example of poor seamanship on exhibit, since the boats nearby have a vested interest in your ability to do it right. The best and most encyclopedic book we've seen on the subject is Earl Hinz's The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring. It's our anchoring bible.
As I write there's a slow-moving thunderstorm going on. Jim suggested that perhaps we might up-anchor and move closer to The Blunderers, maybe anchor right next to them and say, "There's lightning, and your mast is taller. We thought you wouldn't mind…"
"Nah," I said, grumpy because it was W.B.C. (way before coffee.)
"You're right," said Jim, "Anyway, from up on the foredeck this morning I farted in their general direction."
Monty Python would have been proud of us.
Sent via Ham radio