Hurricane Delta over the Canary Islands

Spade A-100 anchor saved my Catamaran from disaster in hurricane Delta

Monday morning 28 Novenber on anchor with my catamaran “ We Two Are One” behind the breakwater of Arrecife Lanzarotte.

The navtex gave a hurricane warning for Madeira and Canarische islands. Because the anchor place was open to the southwest, I decided to go to the harbor Naos on the another side of Arrecife to find some shelter for the oncoming hurricane.

But I was not the only one all the yachts who were on anchor behind the breakwater left for Naos for shelter, by the time I arrived there, the inner harbor was full of boats, and no safe place to anchor for me and my cat. The two jetties from the Marina were totally full and quite a few boats were on anchor inside the harbor , and the danger that anchors with their short anchor scoop will break out if it really started to blow, did not appeal to me at all.

So I choose a place behind the breakwater from the outer entrance from the harbor, with plenty of room in all wind directions.

23.00 hours the wind speed became well over 40 knots, (beaufort 9) but I was laying on 2 anchors a Spade A-100 and a Fortress 27 and was laying ok.

Not far from me was a heavy German multi chine steel yacht and his anchor started to drag and he motored up and down and anchored a couple of times, but kept on breaking loose and when he finally did anchored again his boat kept on swinging to and fro on his anchor. Of course that did not last long. His anchor started to drag again and came closer and closer to my cat and to my anchor lines who were very tight but kept holding.

So I did shine my torch on him to warn him off.

24.00 hours wind speed now well over 50 knots ( beaufort 10) my anchors were still holding ok and to be sure I did put my third anchor out a fortress 37, the wind was screaming and the waves outside the harbor were about 2 meters high.

The German couple with their steel boat and still motoring up and down made me understand that I had to go away, now that was impossible with this wind of over 50 knots and on 3 anchors.

It was impossible to look into the wind with all this black vulcan sand blowing into my face. Also the glass kept falling down and the wind kept on increasing all the time. Later I heard that the wind speed was well 60 knots (beaufort 11)

I had started my two outboard engines to lessen the pull on my anchor lines, and all of a sudden I noticed that we were drifting backwards quite rapidly so it looked that the anchors were loose, and we were going at quite a speed backwards and I thought did is the end of my catamaran, then to my relief just quite close to a big red steel buoy and near the entrance of the harbor one of the anchors gripped again and we stopped going backwards, but we were now with the noses into the high waves near the harbor entrance. The 2 anchor lines from the fortress anchors were loose so we were only laying on the Spade, so I did put out a very heave old fisherman anchor hoping to get some strain off the Spade .

The Germans i think were happy to get rid of me.

At 0.200 with a laud bang we were loose again and hit the big red steel buoy broadside with my starboard hull and were more or les surfing towards the concrete harbor wall from the container wharf, the waves were about 3 meters or so high and I realized that this was the end of “We Two Are One” we will smash to pieces any moment now and my wooden Catamaran would not have any change what ever to survive that at all.

“We Two Are One” did not give in as yet, somehow the anchors dug themselves in again and made us swing around with the noses into the wind and waves again, at about 2 or 3 meters from the concrete wall.

The wind was screaming thru the rigging and then off all things the jib started to unroll itself and was flapping like mad, I fought with the jib and managed to roll it up again and managed to put the spinnaker halyard round it.

Then I noticed that my portside outboard engine with the mounting bracket system was torn away and was hanging under water on its throttle cable so I did managed to put a rope round the engine and with a sheet winch pulled it against the boat.

I then realized that my position was very dangerous if the chain breaks of the anchors

breaks out again then we will hit the wall within seconds and that would be the end of it.

Put my passport and ships papers and some personal gear into a waterproof bag , ready to throw ashore, because this could not go on forever, with this wind and waves nothing can stand this for long.

I lit some flares but that was no success at all the first one burnt my hand the second one fel into the cockpit and kept on burning there and the third one did do nothing at all. Got out my flare pistol shot some flares of, and realized that is also hopeless in this weather. Finally called a mayday on channel 16 hoping to reach the Naos harbor board, it took a while but they answered, and told me that a lifeboat will be on its way.

The anchor line of the fisherman anchor was hanging down so the line had broken so we were again hanging only on the Spade and chain but for how long!!!!!!

After what I thought a long time the lifeboat came alongside off me downwind and the crew yelled to me to jump, no I yelled tow us to the harbor, but the Spanish lifeboat crew told no go, you will have to jump, so I did and 3 pairs of strong hands pulled me unto the lifeboat.

and here I was sitting on the cockpit floor of this lifeboat going at full speed towards the safety of Naos harbor, shocked ,dazzled, troubled and very worried the starboard engine was still running and all the lights were still on, when I jumped ???.

When the lifeboat moored into her box and it seems to me that the wind was degreasing in force, I did asked the Captain to take me back to my boat, he said no, we will go at first light in the morning we will go and have a look, your life is more important than the boat.(…the next morning…)

With Manuel’s little fishing boat and 3 man we went towards my boat, and went alongside we saw that the engine had stopped because of lots of plastic bags where stag on the propeller, batteries completely flat,

The portside engine who was still hanging under water, and with the 4 off us hoisted the engine on board, and we managed to started with the pull cord the starboard engine.

We then made the catamaran’s portside fast on Emanuel little fishing boat and went anchor up, the big fisherman anchor had not been holding anything at all, the Spade anchor was really dug in and took quite some effort with the 4 of us to break it out, the Spade blade had got stuck behind some rocks and with the 8 mm extra strong galvanised chain kept the cat from disaster. The shank of the Aluminum Spade was totally twisted but it did hang on. And thanks to my 9 KG aluminum Spade anchor who realy saved my Catamaran. “We Two Are One” from being shipwrecked.

Two day’s later with Emanuel and his little fishing boat and a Englisch sailorfriend we went looking for the anchors, water was clear so we snorkeled it took us about 15 minutes to find the anchors the line of the small Fortress had been worn through, big Fortress the pin came out of the shackle, which we found also. I did not put safety strap on the shackle at the time of the storm, which I normally do.

Later on we heard that a lot off damage had occurred all over the Canary Islands, especially on Tenerife where windspeeds off wel over 120 knots was measured. There occurred the most damage now 4 day’s later there is still no electric power as yet.

Now everybody is working hard to repair the damage and trying to get rid off this black vulcan dust. So gradually I will get my Catamaran shipshape again, and hope to, in a week or two to go sailing again and try to forget this terrible experience. (Editors Note: We no longer recommend an aluminium anchor as a main anchor because it can bend in extreme conditions or with all chain rode – but this still shows the holding ability of the SPADE).