SIDEBAR – Boat Nightmares

Upon advice from a fellow cruiser and follower, I’ve decided to take a step back every now and then from our colorful chronicles to touch on a few topics in which many cruisers we have met seem to share a common curiosity: What do you pack?  How many spares did you bring?  Where did you stow the wine?  You know … the important stuff.  Since we are mid-trial – so to speak – on this epic voyage aboard the Plaintiff’s Rest, the Captain wisely recommended I refer to them “sidebars.”


The idea originally came from my friend, Mary aboard Liza, whom we met in Port St. Joe and who said she was dying to know what clothing items I had packed (and, more importantly NOT packed) for our cruise down to the Keys.  I will get there Mary, soon, I promise.  Just as soon as I finish getting all of the clothes off the boat that I did NOT wear (I think the term “boocoos” would be in order).  Let’s just say this is about half of it … and, they’re still sitting on the dresser.

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Don’t judge me.

But, for this sidebar, I’m curious whether any of you cruisers have experienced a phenomenon I, for lack of a better term, like to call — Boat Nightmares.


I’ve had them before.  The night we spent whipping around in 30 knot winds in Ingram’s Bayou during our Thanksgiving Voyage out west, I kept imagining the boat dragging anchor, running aground and tipping over.  And I thought that was a nightmare.  Little did I know …   Our night at Egmont Key was the worst we have ever spent on anchor.  The.  Worst.  After our Jenny busted, and we decided we were going to have to pull into St. Pete for repairs, we found Egmont Key in the cruiser’s guide and it seemed like it would be a perfect little tucked-away island to drop anchor for the night.


We were out of the Gulf, nice and protected from the south.  But, the winds didn’t blow out of the south that night.  They blew out of the north, northeast to be exact.  Across this great big Tampa Bay.


Pardon my French, but that is one big ass bay.  

We bounced and popped and whipped around on that anchor like a balloon hanging out the window of a semi flying down the interstate.  I literally gripped the covers in my hands and cringed every time the boat started to groan and creak, and I didn’t breathe again until her gut-wrenching wail was over.  I seriously thought the bow roller, or better yet, the whole bow pulpit, was going to break off.  We tossed and turned all night, mumbling and groaning every time the boat did, in empathy.  We debated pulling the anchor and motoring into the bay in the middle of the night, but with the wind right on our nose, that was going to be a massive chore on the winch, not to mention the crew and the engine.  And, we were holding – popping and jumping, mind you – but we were holding, so, we decided to ride it out.  Phillip kept telling me, “That’s what she’s built for.  That anchor’s designed to hold in a hurricane.”  But I have decided I don’t think I want to be anywhere near the boat if she ever has to ride out a hurricane on anchor(s).  I don’t want to see, much less hear, her scream and flail like that ever again.  It’s absolutely gut-wrenching.

We were finally able to fall asleep in spurts in the wee hours of the morning and while my conscious mind really did think the whole pulpit on the bow would snap off, my subconscious mind apparently thought that when that happened, the boat would rear back like a raging stallion and pitchpole.


Because that’s the nightmare I had.  In my dream, the pulpit snapped off, leaving a gaping hole in the bow, and the boat, in response, kicked back up on her stern (yes, this was possible in my dream) and went flying back only to have her mast stick mightily in the shore like a flying sword.


It was incredibly vivid in my dream and I remember every second of it, and the feeling of the boat underneath me, lifting up and arching back.  I woke with a jerk (and a choice expletive I’m sure) only to find myself safe in the v-berth, with the boat still gripping mightily on the anchor.  But, I was shaken.  It was real in my dream.

So, I’m curious, fellow cruisers — have any of you ever had a true Boat Nightmare?  Please tell me I’m not the only one.  What happened in your dream?

7 thoughts on “SIDEBAR – Boat Nightmares

  • Hi Annie,You are a trooper.In 50 + yrs of sailing most of my night mares have been real.There was a night after a 3 week cruise on Lake Michigan,we were living in a high rise in Chicago.My then wife woke to find me standing on a chair at the bedroom window trying to fend off the building next to us whose anchor was apparently dragging.Is it still a nightmare if I get a kick out of it?

    • Buuhahahaa! The building that was dragging anchor. That’s awesome. Don’t worry, I apparently have THAT particular nightmare while sitting up, wide awake. When we were on the mooring ball at Ft. Meyers (just down the way from Doug on the ole’ Puffin), I heard shouting and saw through the saloon windows that we were getting dangerously close to another boat. I immediately jumped up, rattled the Captain and ran up to the cockpit line in hand (ready to save the day!) only to find the OTHER boat was the object that was moving, not us (although it looks exactly the same from the saloon). But, I tell ya … the fear never subsides! Thanks for sharing! Nightmare or not, I got a real kick out of your Chicago story!

  • How about the voices you hear offshore on watch. On my recent trip across from Pensacola to Key West all three of is heard them while on watch or trying to sleep off watch (at night).

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