Just a little to add to the previous post about being at anchor. Picture the scene….


It’s 5am. James and I have had a sleepless night. The previous night we went aground. It was sand, so we were ok, and only went aground by a little bit (20cm or so) so nothing too bad (We later found out that everyone goes aground there!).


We moved the boat in the morning and had a lovely day wandering around Alvor. The wind was meant to pick up the following day.


But, by 4am, we were on our third waking up for anchor watch, looking nervously at our depth counter and came to the same conclusion: as we had swung round by 180 degrees we were going to have to move the boat – again. This is no mean feat in a shallow anchorage, before it’s fully light, when the wind is already picking up and you’ve had a sleepless night. Add to this the unhappy news that our windlass has developed a nasty little trick of flying out of control (basically letting the anchor chain jump off the windlass freely rather than locked on the mechanism and releasing at a controlled pace) which I wrongly tried to alleviate by attempting to stop the free-flying chain with firstly my hands (ouch) and secondly my foot (also ouch).


By this point we are on our 5th re-drop / re-lift, and 45 minutes into our search for the right depth as we are now at low water. A friendly Scottish anchor buddy, Tom Meyer, has also awoken by this point, and is offering advice on where best to drop. Then, as we have started dropping again, James is at the helm, me at the windlass (at the bow), I see something. In the dark, out of nowhere, a boat with no lights is coming directly towards our bow. Within seconds of seeing this I also understand that it is empty, and drifting, out of control, having slipped its mooring, and is coming right for us at speed.


I cannot write the expletives uttered by myself at this point, at a high pitch, in an uncontrollable yelp, but, needless to say, James got the hint that something extraordinarily bad was about to happen and we needed to do something about it. At the bow, my only action possible (other than screaming to him) was to lift the newly re-dropped anchor asap. James’s bold move was to steer towards the ghost boat and accelerate (much less crazy than it sounds as this would increase the chances on a glancing blow rather than a side-on T-bone hit). Our Scottish friend, Tom, sounded his foghorn, to make sure the boat was, as suspected, unoccupied, and shout to us “That is incredible!”.


The ghost boat missed and drifted almost gracefully to lie next to yet another boat that had slipped its moorings and gone aground not that long before. Hence the ghostly morning light rising on the photo below and why I maintain that it’s never a quiet night at anchor.