Adventure at Rudder Cut Cay

Adventure at Rudder Cut Cay

posted in: Bahamas, Highlights, Sailing | 2

OK, this post sounds like a Nancy Drew mystery.  This title is Mel’s attempt to jazz up “The Post.”  You know, The Post that appears in ALL sailing blogs.  The one about the near-collision in the middle of the night.  Mel was hopeful she would never have to write The Post.  She was wrong.

It was a dark and stormy night.

No it wasn’t.  Skies were clear and there was hardly any wind.  Stick to the facts, Mel. –Mel’s conscience.

It was a peaceful night.  The Burnetts were fast asleep while The Amazing Marvin sat turned into the fairly brisk tidal current in their anchorage at Rudder Cut Cay.  This island is owned by David Copperfield, a name that escapes Tommy, who claims the owner is actually Copernicus.  They slept well, as they could see their Rocna anchor through the clear water, nicely dug into sand.

The only mistake they made was to anchor a little too close to French Canadians.

No, Mel.  That was not their mistake.  Just because only one of the last three French Canadians Mel encountered was pleasant does not mean all are bad.

The only mistake they made was to underestimate how tidal currents can eddy close to shore.

That’s better, but who would know that anyway?  You are too hard on yourself.

The moon had set, with only four tiny anchor lights illuminating the beautiful “No Trespassing” sign on the beach.  At 3:30 a.m., Mel was partially awakened by a loud whistling noise.  “Drunk French people,” she thought, “If you are going to whistle like that you need to share some of your wine.”  She returned to sleep.

“Captain!!!  The Amazing Marvin!!!”  Mel and Greg both bolt out of bed.  Our anchor must be dragging, they fear.  They arrive on deck to see Marvin and the Canadian boat almost touching each other’s butt.  Almost.  They were being held apart by an arm and a leg.  Literally.

Greg runs to start the engines and Mel takes the helm.  Mel was not privy to this conversation, but apparently it was decided that we should be the ones to move.  Mel and Greg get Tommy up and ask him to shine a flashlight onto the other two boats in the anchorage so Marvin doesn’t hit them as we maneuver, as we really couldn’t see well at all.  After some careful maneuvering away from the boat, Greg experiments with taking in some of our anchor chain.  Even this was tricky, as the chain was not aligned with the current and it was hard to know how to steer the boat to take it up.

After we reduced scope, we stopped the engines and waited.  Slowly we continued to swing back next to the other boat, a beautiful Jeanneau 52 monohull.  What the hell?  Through all tides the day before we were all aligned with the current.  Not tonight.  We would have to anchor somewhere else.

“Start the engines again!” Greg calls out, again having a face-to-face conversation with the Canadians at the bow.

A few seconds later, Mel sends Tommy forward to deliver a message.  “The port engine won’t start.”

“What does it say on the monitor?” Greg yells. “Check Engine!” Mel yells back.  Not helpful, engine monitor people.

Marvin was once again a few feet from the other boat, so Mel begins to teach herself how to maneuver the boat on one engine in front of the French Canadians.  “This isn’t as hard as I thought, but I should have practiced this earlier,” she thought.

She gets away from them and holds station in the current with one engine while Greg goes into the engine room and troubleshoots.  Occasionally the boat drifts again towards the other boat, and at one point Mel looks over there.

The other boat was dark, with bronze metallic hull paint, and hard to see.  In the middle of all of this, after it was decided that we would move our anchor, the French Canadians had gone back to bed.

Mel thinks they should probably do the following Google search: “French reputation rude.”

Now, Mel… maybe they just had confidence in a neurologist’s ability to handle a 48-ft catamaran in close quarters and strong current on a moonless night with one engine out.

Mel thinks they should probably do the following Google search: “catamarans leeway windage control issues”


We have Tommy shine his flashlight into their hull, and eventually they come up and turn on their boat lights at our request.  The Burnetts were polite about it.  After all, we were undergoing yet another demonstration that one must be humble about being able to understand everything about the sea…and other sailors.

The engine starts after 15 minutes and the anchor is repositioned, far away from the other boat.  Greg spends another hour in the engine room with an iPad and a clamp meter, obsessed at 4 a.m.  His verdict: “It’s the battery combiner.  It is working as it should.  But its design is stupid, stupid, stupid.”  Mel doesn’t understand much, but this has something to do with long periods of idling the engine while maneuvering, our crappy alternator, and 13 V.

Mel goes to sleep and dreams of beating people over the head with baguettes.


Mel dreams of baguettes.  What she did with them is up to you.

The End

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2 Responses

  1. Burnettsahoy!
    | Reply

    […] the boat off the wind when anchored. Anchor far away from others in this case.  Otherwise, you may kiss someone unintentionally in the middle of the night.  It’s not as fun as it […]

  2. Ken Nellis
    | Reply

    Your navigation skills were put to test and you guys responded. What beautiful pictures. Keep us posted.

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