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Aannsha’s Blog #28 – Accidents happen so fast

Baz getting the Mantus anchor ready

“Stop!” Baz called from the dock as he held onto our massive shiny new anchor that we were fixing into place.

“Okay!” I took my toe off the button of the anchor winding mechanism at the bow of the boat, but there was a delay before the windlass finally stopped rolling.

“Stop NOW!” Baz shouted urgently. This time, the tone in his voice caused my stomach to lurch. I knew something was wrong.

“I have!” I assured him as I watched the anchor chain slowly stop its trundling.

“Let it OUT!” Oh shit, it looks like his hand is trapped!

I tried to prevent my mind from going into panic mode. Which was the Down button again? This was the first time I’d used our windlass and neither button was marked. I’d used both Up and Down buttons within the last few minutes, but both of my toes were off the buttons now and I realised that if I stepped on the wrong one, I could make matters worse. In those few split seconds of decision, Baz cried out again, and I flew into action.

Windlass with unmarked buttons

Oh God, I prayed as I put one toe on one button, let this be the right one! I held my breath as the windlass whirred into gear and blew out thankful relief as I saw the anchor chain trundling away from me.

Baz pulled the anchor towards the dock and promptly went over to the nearby tap and washed the back of his right hand. I stood there stunned. I couldn’t understand how this had happened. Baz is normally so careful, and generally surveys a situation to minimise risk. I figured it must be because the Mantus anchor that we’d just had delivered and were fixing to the boat (in place of the original Delta anchor) was so goddam oversized that he’d miscalculated how far up it would go when winched in.

A nasty accident waiting to happen

The Mantus anchor has a huge semicircular roll bar over the top of it, so if it lands upside down on the sea bed, it immediately rolls over and rights itself. Our 39Kg Mantus was also slightly over-specked, in that we’d ordered it on line and had bought the one recommended for cruise yachts between 45ft and 50ft. Out yacht is 45ft long, and so we have one that technically keeps a 50ft yacht in place. Between that and the fact that the pulpit (the pointy end of the stainless steel railing at the bow) which sticks out over the anchor rollers was in the way of the new Mantus, meant that it was an accident waiting to happen.

The worst part of it was, there were bolts sticking out under the little wooden seat at the front of the pulpit that we’d planned to have filed off. It was one of these bolts that had stabbed Baz straight into the back of his hand, as his hand became sandwiched between the anchor roll bar and the steel of the pulpit.

When I saw blood running down his hand, I asked Barry if he was okay, and he said, “I’m fine, let’s get these old anchors put away.” He shoved a paper napkin around his hand, despite my objections, and went off to get the heavy old Delta that we would stow and keep as an extra in a storm. We carried that 30Kg anchor down the steep companion way steps to the back storage under the bed of the Princess Suite – but it didn’t fit. We then carried it back up on deck to the forward locker – but after taking everything out (mattresses, suitcases, beach chairs, canvas privacy screens) it didn’t fit well enough. It would have crashed and banged down through the floor in high seas. So we carried it back down the companionway (all with Barry’s hand bleeding remember), to the port aft cabin.

Did it fit? No, of course not.

We then made our way with this bloody awkward heavy bastard of an anchor back to the Princess Suite and tried it in the side stowage. This was more of a V-shape, and the anchor sat nicely in there, cushioned on old engine hatch padding. Held in place by the folding cushions that are used to make up a bed in the saloon, we felt the anchor was in the best place, and left it there.

After finding a place for the smaller CQR anchor in the port aft cabin stowage, all that was left was to put all of the beds back and all of the things back into the forward locker.

Tending Barry’s wound

After that, Barry was happy to have his hand tended to. I reckon he’d needed to sit down about half an hour prior to that, when he began to look grey. But you can’t make Baz do anything he doesn’t want to, and despite my insistence, I knew he wouldn’t stop until everything was stowed. So concern about his hand had to go on the back burner along with the muscles in my back which were screaming to stop lifting heavy weights!

Tending Baz's wound with love

Finally we stopped and I allowed myself to listen to the niggle in the back of my mind that had been stressing about the fact that the First Aid Kit that we’d ordered hadn’t arrived yet, and all that I had to treat Barry’s hand was cold boiled water in the kettle, a fresh roll of toilet paper, 96% alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide, or iodine. And one large elastic band aid (plaster). I thanked myself that I at least had these. The small range of band aids came out with us from Australia and the three unopened cleaning liquids came from the original First Aid Kit on the boat. (Everything else from the original Kit had been thrown as use by dates were years out of date).

After washing Barry’s hand with the cold boiled water, I opted for the iodine, dried the hand with clean toilet paper (I know, sounds gross, but it was fresh out of the packet), and plastered on the band aid. Then unbeknownst to Baz, I spent a fair amount of time talking to the Universe and unseen helpers to assist his body heal quickly, cleanly and completely. I told Baz that if his hand looked or smelled bad the next day, he was going to hospital. No arguments. This time, he agreed. While he had luckily not got any broken bones or tears to ligaments, both of us know that microorganisms can do nasty things very quickly, and neither of us was prepared to ignore that.

The next morning there was seepage under the band aid but a quick look ensured us his body was holding its own. We took a taxi, hired a car and went shopping for first aid gear until the Kit we’d ordered arrived. Returning home, I dowsed Barry’s hand with iodine again and eased some into the top of the wound. I figured it had bled out a lot, so there probably wasn’t anything nasty in there from the actual bolt, but it was still weeping and so it wasn’t 100% happy yet. The iodine would hopefully kill anything that was still in there. I secured a sterile pad on top which would at least let it breathe. The following day, the weeping had stopped, the swelling had gone down a tad, and Barry’s hand looked as if it was ‘happily’ doing its thing and on the road to healing.

Nearly better

One week later, with daily changes and wipes around the outside of the hand with alcohol but using no more iodine, Barry is sporting a nice, clean scab as a reminder of how easily things can go wrong on a boat.

Ironically, the First Aid Kit turned up the day after the accident!

How do I feel about the whole incident?

Apart from the damage it caused to Barry’s hand, the anchor cost AU$2,062 to purchase, an extra AU$477 (310 Euros) in import duty tax, plus whatever we are charged for the pulpit modifications.

I also felt bad for quite a while that I hadn’t acted faster when Baz had shouted. But looking back, I acted as quickly as I could, given the circumstances.

That bloody anchor had better live up to its reputation.

Now we can find things

After hiring a car and going shopping, we had lots of cans of food and other items to stow in the various storage lockers in the saloon. We’ve been talking about making a list that lets us know where we’ve put what, because neither of us particularly wants to rummage through two or three lockers looking for something that may or may not be there. It’s not just a waste of time, but lifting then replacing the seat cushions and wooden storage lids gets a bit tedious when you’re looking for something in one of several places.

Excel isn’t what it used to be

So I bit the bullet and decided to get my head around Excel and make a proper worksheet. I wanted one that not only told us where things were, but how many items we had, and also how many we needed to buy at the next shop. I originally learned how to create Excel spreadsheets back in the 90s when it was a fairly new program. Since then though, I’ve really only been at the data entry end of Excel in my last workplace.

After opening the program on my laptop, I realised how much better Excel is than it used to be. There are now lots of useful ways to enter formulae, so I spent an hour going through the tutorial. Another hour or so later, and I’d created a fairly decent spreadsheet that breaks the lists by storage area and shows individual items by amount, size, use by dates, how many used, amount left and reorder amount. Formulae automatically work out amounts remaining, and reorder amounts. I was pretty chuffed at the finished document!

Excel spreadsheet

I think it will prove its merit when we’re actually on passage, or preparing to go underway, because at the moment, it’s simply a case of writing what we use directly onto our shopping list. But for now, we can tweak what we really need to store and also the amounts we will use over the course of a week or two in preparation for casting off the lines.

Do you use a spreadsheet for your pantry items? If so, I’d love to hear how you’ve set yours up.

No more mozzies

Mozzie zapper!

They breed big mosquitoes over here (compared with the Australian ones)! And with open hatches at night, we've been prey to all those hungry suckers since Spring came along. One remedy was the electronic zapper that looks like a tennis racket with wire strings - only this one delivers a nasty shock to small flying insects. Baz and I tried it ourselves and it gives a nasty electric zap so I'm sure this is instant death for anything we aim it at - including clouds of little moths that seemed to waft around in the evenings. Gawd knows where they were developing, but we didn't want them eating neither food nor clothes! After the strangely macabre enjoyment of killing things while watching Black Sails and feeling like a pirate, we got fed up of being buzzed awake in the early hours by the ones that got away. So we decided to invest in some insect screens.

Insect screen on hatch

Baz spotted a great solution in the local Aki store which is a bit like the Australian Bunnings Warehouse. It is basically insect screening netting that you cut to size yourself and secure in place with their sticky backed velcro strips. Perfect! It's easy to pull on and off too, so there's no problem opening and closing hatches.

For now though, stay alert and in the present. Until next time!

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