Here’s a nice description of an adventure a Roeboats owner had on their Cape Henry 21′ this past summer.Enjoy:
I’ve been carefully watching the weather forecast hoping for a few settled days with light winds. I want to do an over-nighter, but the weather so far has been extremely changeable. You just can’t plan more that a day or two ahead and even then you might not get what was forecast… Blame it on the Jet Stream, which has been hovering right over southern Ireland. One day it moves a bit farther north and we get a good day, the next day it moves a bit farther south and we get a bad day.
The forecast says that by mid-week it’s going to head a bit farther north and stay there for a few days. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all look good, with Thursday being the best day. So we plan to head up the Ilen River on Wednesday and spend the night at anchor somewhere near Oldcourt. I ask Con about good places to anchor, and he suggests the Northeast tip of Inishbeg, near the boat house. He also suggests we use an anchor light as there is a small chance you might get a trawler coming down from Old Court during the night.
Wednesday arrives, and the weather is not as good as forecast. Preparing the boat takes a bit longer than usual, since we also need to fill the water tank, and add flush water and chemicals to the portapotty. By the time we are ready to head off, the wind is blowing quite strongly. I’m confident that it will be much calmer once we get to the river’s mouth and turn east, with wind from astern and the flood tide carrying us along. Then we should be able to find a sheltered spot tucked in behind Inishbeg.
We motor off the mooring, with Laura at the helm as usual. I must be getting soft, because I agree to hoist the staysail only and proceed under engine and staysail. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’ll have the wind directly on the nose going through The Sound, then wind from astern as we turn into the river, so keeping this setup will avoid a lot of bother in these gusty conditions. And for some reason Eileen and Laura are reassured by the engine. They seem blissfully unaware that engines can conk out with bad fuel, electrical problems, overheating, ropes tangled in the prop, etc. In which case you’ll need to either sail or anchor.
As predicted, as soon as we turn east around Quarantine Island everything calms down. Soon we kill the engine, and with favourable wind and tide we’re making good progress under staysail alone. We pass the seals sunning themselves on Inishleigh, a field of seagulls on Ringaroga where a farmer is cutting silage, and immobile cranes patiently looking for prey on the river bank. Life slows down and everyone is relaxing, enjoying the ride. Bliss!
We’re winding our way up the river, running wide in the bends and keeping an eye on the depth sounder. I pull up the centre-plate a bit just in case. As we round Inishbeg the boathouse comes into view. We spot the orange mooring buoy but it has a couple of ribs tied to it, and there are people sitting out on the front deck of the house. This is slightly worrying because there are often loud parties there in the summer, blasting their music across the river to Creagh. Fingers crossed that we won’t have to move to a quieter spot later on.
Looking at the chart, it seems like the best place to anchor is in the bend between Inishbeg and the pier at Barry’s. The farther we can tuck in there the more shelter we will get, but it also gets very shallow very quickly once you leave the channel. I prepare the anchor, then we start the engine and Eileen and I take down the staysail. I ask Laura to do a u-turn and then come back towards the edge of the channel, pointing into the wind and tide, where we will drop the anchor. She slowly turns up towards what should be mid-channel and deeper water but something doesn’t feel right… I don’t think we’re moving? We’ve gone aground! Crap! A bit of confusion ensues, but a little reversing gets us off quickly. Now turn and approach the edge of the channel, watching the depth sounder. When it gets to about a metre I drop the anchor and we start drifting back with the current.
It’s our first time using the anchor (a 7 kg Manson Supreme) so I’m not really sure what to expect. I can feel it bite almost immediately. I let out the seven metres of chain plus about twenty metres of rode and tie off. The boat comes to a halt and doesn’t move. We sit in the cockpit for a while, keeping an eye out to see if we are moving but we’re not and the hunger soon gets to us.
Soon dinner is ready, and I don’t know how Eileen managed it but we all agree it’s the best pasta ever! We enjoy a glass of wine with our meal, and take in the peace and quiet which thankfully hasn’t been broken by any parties at the boat house.
There were many “firsts” this evening; first time anchoring, first time using the fresh water tank, first time cooking aboard, first time using the portapotty. I’m happy to say that everything worked perfectly! Night falls and I want to see how effective the anchor light is, so I suggest we take a midnight dinghy ride.
The wind has died down during the evening and it’s flat calm now. We call it a day and tuck into our sleeping bags. I set an alarm for 04:30, about the time when I expect the tide to turn. I want to make sure the anchor holds as we swing through 180 degrees. Sleep comes quickly, but after a while I’m awakened by a clunking noise. Is it the dinghy hitting the boat? No, sounds like the rudder. Just ignore it and go to sleep. Clunk. I’m trying, but it’s really loud, the boat acting like a hollow drum to amplify the sound. Clunk. No, I’ll have to get out and do something. I crawl out and tighten the line holding the rudder amidships. That should do it. Now back to my toasty-warm sleeping bag. Ahhhh. Clunk.
The alarm goes off at 04:30 and I get up to have a look at the anchor. Eileen wakes and takes a look out as well. Despite the tiredness we’re glad we got out. Not because the anchor is dragging. On the contrary it’s holding perfectly well. But the night is so calm, the river is like a mirror, there’s a bit of moonlight, and every once in a while a bird or duck calls out, the lonely cry echoing across the water. Pure magic!