This is the image I see on my Anchor Alert app. The yellow blobs show where the boat has been all night. When Aquarella passes the outer red ring which indicates the limit I have set (length of chain) the alarm goes off. It sounds like a fog horn with bronchitis. Nearly all the other boats you can see are moored to permanent mooring buoys.
After several very windy nights without sleep, wondering if my anchor would hold, I decided to hire a mooring buoy from "Franks Yacht station" here in Porto Heli for a few weeks. This means the boat is securely tied up with minimal risk of anything happening. I'm still free to go sailing whenever I want and I have the buoy to return to. I can also leave the boat if I need to be ashore for any length of time. The fee for the buoy includes the facilities at the yacht station/ boatyard including a shower and washing machine.
I was a little nervous going to pick up the buoy for the first time but the guy from the boatyard was there to help and he directed me in as if Aquarella was a Boeing 787.
The following day I took my washing ashore in the hope I could get it all done in an hour or so.
I got back to the boat 9 hours later after a very enjoyable day.
The machine was occupied when I came and the queue of bags of washing was long. Behind a row of old boat toilets filled with blooming geraniums a group of people were sitting drinking wine at a long table under a tin roof . "Come and join us, they said" so I parked my bag of washing in the queue and sat down with them to wait.
They were all boatowners and introduced themselves. After a short time it was clear that several of them were in the same situation as myself. Marie-Louise from Germany lost her husband two years ago and has been sailing her 42 ft catamaran ever since. Mike, also from Germany lost his wife last December and is now on board his yacht with his brother Ralf. Susie from England lives aboard her catamaran on the yard together with her sick husband.
So suddenly I didn't feel so sorry for myself anymore and it was great meeting new friends with so much in common. We drank wine and talked for hours. I asked Marie Louise about how she tackles eating alone on board. She told me how she makes a special effort to prepare good food for herself and lays a nice table with a glass of wine and sits down and enjoys it. At restaurants she thought it hard at first and felt conspicuous. So to avoid other peoples stares she surrounded herself with a book or newspaper, mobile phone or ipad, whatever. But now she doesn't need this barricade anymore, it's very much a matter of your own attitude and getting used to your new situation, she said. If a waiter shows you to a table that doesn't suit you, tell him to find you another one or leave!
I really admired her determination and attitude and felt strengthened by it myself, or maybe it was the wine.
She gave me some more tips too.
When I told her how I anchor by letting 10 meters of chain out and running back to the helm to reverse slowly. Then I run forward again and let 10 more out, run back to the helm, reverse and so on.
She said: "Don't ever run!" if you run , the chances are you will fall and theres no one there to pick you up.
That was good advice.
Then I heard about the technique she uses for returning to her mooring buoy. It's not easy to aim the boat to a tiny buoy in a cross wind with other boats at close quarters. As soon as you stop,the boat starts to drift so you don't have many seconds to tie up.
She ties an inflatable canoe to the buoy with a long line before she leaves. On return this gives her a longer scope and a much better chance of picking up the line with a boat hook .
I hope this will work for me, I don't have an extra canoe in my locker but a large fender with a long line might do the trick.
This afternoon I was invited on board Lillybelle from Scotland owned by George and Chris.
Chris showed me how to tie the highwayman's hitch, something I can use a lot when I need a strong knot that can easily and quickly be released with a single tug.
They say you are never too old to learn.
I'm learning new things every day.
Most of all I'm learning to survive, physically, practically, emotionally and mentally.