Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to (Not) Claim Permanent Lagoon Residency

It was a very calm and sunny day in the St. Martin lagoon (where else) earlier this month. Irie was anchored close to her usual spot near Explorer Island (aka Grand Ilet on the charts). There was no wind and the green water was still and flat like glass. Contrary to what most people might think, the lagoon is pretty clean in our area and on days like this, we can see the grassy bottom. Only, this time, right off Irie’s stern, there was no grass to be seen. All I noticed was something white. Something large. Was it a sandy spot? Was it a block of concrete? A wreck? The next time a shower was needed, I stayed in the cold water a little bit longer and brought my snorkel mask…

It was shallower underneath me and two huge concrete slabs stared me in the face. One of them had steel loops coming out of it and the largest chain I’ve ever seen. The links were as big as my hands and I –for sure- had stumbled across a massive hurricane mooring, suitable for a barge! What a great place to install our own mooring equipment and “sit” on that instead of our precious anchor and falling apart chain. If that would work for the next few months, our own ground tackle would get a break from deterioration. The “our own mooring” plan was formed and all we needed to do was find the right ingredients. In the meantime, we marked “our spot” with a fender.

A very friendly chap Charlie provided us with a ten foot ½" chain in great condition, our single handed girlfriend Patti gave us an enormous shackle she didn’t have any use for on her small sailboat and we dove into our own anchor locker to claim a ¾” line for mooring purposes. We gathered these parts over the last couple of weeks and Mark got to work and spliced the line onto itself in a loop with a piece of hose and onto the chain. With all the preparations taken care of, it was time for our good friend Angie to offer her assistance…

Mark, Angie and I braved the water to assess the situation. Massive shackle in hand, Angie dove down 8 feet, only to come up with the news that it didn’t fit any of the even more massive chain links on the bottom, nor the thick loops! After a few more tries, she found one spot to fit the shackle a certain way. Mark redid some of the attachments on our mooring assembly and Angie retrieved her dive bottle. Now, the serious work could start. Our friend went down again, with plenty of air this time, and managed to attach the shackle to one of the big loops, screwed the finger thick pin in it and secured the contraption with seizing wire. Job well done!

So, that’s how we happened to inherit our own serious mooring in Simpson Bay Lagoon. Irie is now safely (we hope) sitting on her home base, pretty fish eating off the barnacle covered concrete block underneath us. We are a bit apprehensive about the fact that nothing (like an anchor) will slow us down if we drag or get loose. We also have to check the underwater scene once in a while to make sure all is sound. But, that’s a small price to pay to “own” a private piece of property in the glorious Simpson Bay Lagoon. And, for the record, no!, this new mooring development is NOT an act of (semi-) permanency!

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