Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Agropoli – October 7th - Day 1

[Kyle]We left Palinuro without need of the engine. We ghosted out of the cove in light winds flying full mainsail and screacher. During the day, the winds gradually picked up. We stowed the screacher and unfurled the genoa, which later needed reefing. We arrived in Agropoli in the early afternoon. I was pleased that we’d had a fast trip. I had wanted to go ashore in Agropoli the last time we passed after anchoring in Paestum, but we were in a great hurry to get to Athens for my commute to work, so we had passed by.

This time, we wanted to anchor stern-to at the free dock in the main harbor. As we arrived, the wind was a difficult crosswind, but we persevered, and a local was there to help with the lines. Twice we set the anchor in the only available spot with significant scope, and both times it just ploughed readily through the soft detritus (seemed to be vegetable matter) – Ooze. As the anchor ploughed through, bubbles could clearly be seen rising – it was not solid enough sediment to set the anchor. Reluctantly we deemed it untenable for us. We looked at mooring options in the adjacent mooring field within the harbor, but all seemed to be for smaller vessels (too close together and flimsy and shallow). A nearby wall was clearly reserved for other boats… grr, no chance to visit now. With no other anchorages nearby, we checked out the cove to the east, which offered some protection from the southeast winds, and managed to get a well-set anchor in about 2.5m of water. We set 30m of chain and additional line for our bridle.

As the evening progressed wind was light but waves increased from the north with an approaching thunderstorm. It was uncomfortable enough that I was on watch for the anchor. The anchorage was rough, but we were well set and still holding well. In a very short time, the thunderstorm arrived, bringing heavy rain and lightning. The wind clocked around from the west, which we had some protection for, to the north, leaving us exposed. The swell turned into surf, breaking firstly behind, but quickly moving ahead of us. Around 10:30pm, the bow was hit with a breaking wave that pulled us sharply up and back. I immediately went outside to see if the anchor had broken free and found that we were quickly approaching the beach. I yelled to Maryanne that we were dragging and ran to the engine to lower our drive leg and start the engine. By the time I reached the key we were already too shallow and on the beach. We were aground on the rudders. There was a cracking sound on the next impact and they were kicked up. We then grounded on the rear hulls. At this point, we were hoping the anchor would reset and would hold us bow to the waves, sparing us any further damage. In a very short time, the surf turned us sideways and we started being dropped repeatedly on the sand on each wave. It was very quick and we were devastated.

We set to check the boat for leaks/damage. There was water in both hulls below the level of the floorboards and a very large crack visible from the inside of the starboard hull running almost its entire length. However, there was more water in the port hull. Given the situation we determined we should allow the boat to reach its highest point on the beach to minimize flooding and wait until the morning. Then we could consider kedging or other help and see if the boat would float in deeper water, and if so move to a haul out location as soon as possible. A few people stopped in their cars, a couple of which tried shouting over to us. We couldn’t understand the Italian over the rain and thunder, but it seemed to be along the lines of “It’s shallow there.”

We reported our situation to Agropoli Radio. Soon locals and officials began arriving, and eventually the Coast Guard insisted we MUST leave the vessel, and report to the office at 8:30am the following day. We secured the boat using three of our 50m lines run to secure points on shore to keep the boat from being washed back out to sea with the help of the CG and locals that had come out to help and left the anchor to aid. A friendly local (Vincenzo), who spoke good English, translated for us. Once the boat was secure, everyone began to leave. We were planning to wander the town looking for a hotel. Vincenzo told us to follow him. We assumed he was going to help with front desk translations, but instead he offered us accommodation in his apartment for the evening for which we were very grateful. We also would be able to keep and eye on the boat from his balcony window.

We contacted our insurance agent at this opportunity, as it was still business hours in the U.S. and were advised to protect the boat as best we could (which obviously we would want to do regardless).

We set up for the night in a spare room with Maryanne sleeping and me looking at Footprint through binoculars. When I got too tired, we switched off or grabbed 20 minutes together. We could hardly sleep at all, even though we were completely exhausted.

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