With the anchor windlass refusing all offers of resurrection yesterday morning, Alisa and I set to the business of hauling the anchor by hand.
The route to our success was not obvious. We were anchored in 50 feet of water, with 250 feet of chain out. The tradewinds were having their way with the seven miles of open lagoon upwind of us, so that Galactic was rearing back against the chain in a steep chop. And the windlass doesn't have a manual backup.
We rigged up a system by tying our spare chain hook to the old main halyard and leading it from the bow back to the primary winch in the cockpit. And then I got into the business of cranking the winch, and cranking and cranking, to pull all 20 tons of Galactic up to the anchor. Alisa spun the windlass gypsy by hand to send the chain down the hawse hole. And every twenty feet or so, when the chain hook on the halyard had made it back to the windlass, which sits next to the mast on this boat, Alisa took the load on the chain with another line and moved the line I was grinding back to the bow, ready for another 20 feet to be brought in.
It was going reasonably well until we managed to haul the chain bar-tight under a coral obstruction. We weren't paying attention and didn't realize what we were doing until the chain was so tight that it was pulling the bow down into the water. So now we had a chain under a couple thousand pounds of load that had to somehow be cast off so that we could get some slack to try to drive off the coral.
That took a little thinking. A little somewhat panicky thinking, since the bow roller was in the process of disintegrating under the load.
Meanwhile, were the two boys going to pieces below decks?
Eventually we got the load off the chain and managed to put fifty hard-won feet back into the water. And, in a development that we were not expecting, given our past experiences with being fouled on coral that we couldn't see, we managed to drive off the obstruction in one try.
Finally, after three hours of work, the anchor broke the surface, and came to rest on the mangled bow roller. We motored across the lagoon to the village of Tautua, on the windward side of the atoll, the fabled Finest Anchorage in All the Cook Islands.
The boys mollified below, Alisa came up to the cockpit to enjoy a few minutes of the trip with me. We talked about our wedding anniversary, which we'll celebrate in a few days.
So that's cool, I said. Our tenth anniversary in Penrhyn.
I know, said Alisa. For a while I thought we'd have our twentieth here, too.
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