It was about 3 am on Christmas morning and I am about half awake as I shut the hatches. A squall was blowing through the anchorage but I was soon back in bed and drifting off even though the squall was still howling in the rigging, when I hear a very loud bang followed by shouting.
Fully awake I stick my head up and have a look around to see chaos in front of me. I had anchored behind a French boat and was about a hundred and twenty feet behind his dinghy.
I was now abreast his dinghy, but the chaos was the steel boat to my port side that was motoring to keep clear and more frightening was the large catamaran on my starboard side that was lying about 60 degrees to the wind and sheering about wildly.
Pants on, engine started and I take avoiding action as the catamaran has a big swipe at Elephants Child. The old couple on the French boat are shouting at me as I slide up their port side and with a good bit of boat handling the steel boat gives me enough room.
I run around like crazy getting fenders out and watching the erratic behavior of the Frenchman and the catamaran.
The catamaran makes another pass and misses again. There is no one aboard that I can see and it is a matter of time till it hits Elephants Child. It looks like he has already hit the French boat as there is stuff hanging off his side and stern.
This when I really needed a crew member to steer and gun the engine when avoiding action was needed.
Trusting to the helm on the steel boat to avoid me I leave it in gear at tickover on full left rudder and go forward with tools and the bread knife. Blessing the electric anchor windlass I pull in enough chain to slip the snubber hook, and run out the chain.
The shackle connecting my chain to the two hundred feet of rope rode usually sticks in the hawse but for once it pops straight through. I cut the zip tie and unscrew the shackle and drop the chain.
Steeple chasing back to the helm I narrowly avoid another anchored boat whose crew are on deck but not doing anything useful but shout at me.
Getting clear I heave a big sigh of relief and have a "WHAT NOW SKIPPER" moment. Half an hour later I have the reserve anchor shackled on and laid using the back up chain. I am well clear of the shenanigans. As usual Dizzy appears when I pull the engine stop control and I have a sit down for a few moments with Dizzy. Another squall come through and I shelter under the dodger watching to make sure my [t]rusty old CQR is gripping which it is. The rain stops and the wind drops a little but it is clear that the shenanigans are continuing with the three boats getting very close to two other boats.
I decide to go and see what I can do to help, throwing an anchor warp, my 37lb Fortress kedge and a couple of useful tools including the breadknife into the dink I motor over blessing the man who invented the head torch. The moon which helped earlier is hidden behind the clouds. A local pirogue arrives with a couple of young men who try to tow the whole mess forward, they keep things clear of the anchored boats who are all now wide awake and shouting. At this point the Marine Police boat arrives and takes over. The wind has died down and I get aboard the cat shouting to the police to give me a tow and get it on a mooring buoy as it has no reserve anchor. I can now see the side of the French boat and there is some serious damage with vertical splits in the glass topsides and some deck crushing. The three big outboards on the Police boat make short work of pulling the cat and dragging the chain and anchor behind us and we are soon tied up to a mooring buoy.
I go back to elephants Child and back to bed but get wakened up by knocking on the side of the boat. It is the Police who think I am the owner or skipper of the catamaran. Neither spoke English so it was a strain on my fractured French to explain things. My papers were scrutinized and details copied into notebooks. They left and it was back to bed.
Much later that morning I was dragging for my dropped anchor chain which I found on the second pass. I don't swim in Marin. I buoyed the chain went back lifted the reserve anchor and motored over to buoy picked it up and was back to where I was last night. Well not quite as I had 200 feet of 3/8 th chain plus a 50 lb CQR which needed manhandling back to their regular reserve spots.
Job done it was back to bed with a double doze of ibuprofen to ease my aches.
The French boat has had to be hauled with a hull split thet reaches the waterline.
I was asked by the local judge who has the power to order investigations apparently Napoleonic Law Code ? ] to write out a report IN FRENCH. I said no can do Best I can offer is a report in English plus a translation by Mr Google. Had to be notarised but they did that for me.
My creaky bits are much eased by a visit to the French chiropractor and masseur.