After leaving Rainbow Cay with a bit too many boat issues for comfort, we decided to ride out 30-knot winds before our planned trip to the Exumas. Pelican Cay (25.27815, -76.33205) is right by a fairly busy airport, not Houston International busy, but there were at least 5 jets that landed and took off per day (probably more, we weren’t really counting). Even though we anchored right beside an airport, we couldn’t see it and for the most part it felt like we were really far away from civilization – which is a feeling we enjoy most of the time.
While we were dropping the anchor in this beautiful spot, our windlass jammed up and bent an essential piece that is needed to pull the chain off the windlass when pulling up the anchor – bad news for us and our plans to push down to the Exumas. We dropped the hook; looking back didn’t set it correctly because of all the windlass problems, and went through our Exumas plan with a purpose – could we do it without an anchor?
In the end, we decided that we’d make Pelican Cay our last stop before heading back to Florida to get our windlass fixed. Sad that we wouldn’t make it back to the Exumas, but elated that THIS is where we would stay until we ran out of food, water, or both.
We hung out for the first couple of days while we waited for the blow. The day of the big weather shift, the dark clouds made for a great picture, very dramatic and beautiful. We enjoyed dinner right before the clouds reached the boat… and as soon as the sun had set the wind shifted 180-degrees on us. We knew the ground below our boat wasn’t the best, but we didn’t expect to start dragging. In good sand our anchor just digs itself into the ground when the wind shifts, but this wasn’t the kind of sand our anchor likes.
Also, in retrospect, we should have reset the anchor before the big blow. Just to confirm it was good. But, with a broken windlass, we didn’t want to muck something up and make the situation worse.
So, fast forward a couple of hours and we were dragging 500+ feet in 35-knot winds, with a partially broken windlass, manually pulling it up and trying to set it again for over 3 hours. Other boats were dragging all around us, and with our lack of maneuverability due to the windlass/anchor problem, we decided to move up 2 miles to another place.
Of all the scary boat situations we’ve had as we’ve learned how to sail, we were really proud of ourselves for handling this issue so well. It’s extremely difficult to keep the boat in place with strong winds – she gets blown around really well. And, we handled ourselves really well.