Barry's Blog # 41 - Oh shit, we're on the rocks!

None of our training prepared us for the events that unfolded at 10.30pm on a moonless Friday night in August 2018.

Thursday afternoon at 6.30pm we arrived in the big bay at Javea and after our previous uncomfortably rolly experience on the free mooring balls just outside the harbour wall we decided to take one of the free mooring balls at the southern end of the bay. After an interrupted night's sleep due to the wind shifting hourly we woke to strengthening winds and swell coming from the north east. The forecasts said that the wind was going to peak at 15 knots by lunchtime with gusts up to 20 knots. We were not in a protected position at all.

Our reason for visiting Javea was to catch up with my brother Phil and his family and we had tentatively made plans to meet for breakfast at 10.00am, however that morning my gut feeling was telling me that the rolling sea was going to make it difficult for us to lower our dinghy into the water without issues and there was no way we'd be able to get it back up on the davits should we need to.

The dinghy on our davits

I was still pondering whether or not to lower the dinghy when my phone rang, it was Phil. He was standing on the shore looking at us and the huge swell that was causing A B Sea to roll like a Saturday night drunk. He said he'd been to look at the northern mooring balls outside the harbour wall and that it was quite calm up there. A decision was made, we started our engine, slipped our mooring lines and headed across the bay. Later at lunch Phil did say that he hadn't realised how big the waves were until he watched us leave the southern mooring and the whole hull of A B Sea was completely hidden from view as we dipped between the incoming waves.

Arriving at the northern end of Javea bay the huge cliffs offered reasonably good protection from the wind and swell and we decided to tie up to one of the new yellow mooring balls, which had only been installed 3 months ago. We chose it over one of the older white mooring balls because we'd previously seen how poorly maintained the white ones were.

White and yellow mooring balls at Javea

As always we put two separate lines from our foreward cleats onto the mooring. Scuba diving has taught me that redundancy is better than regret, so there's always a second option should the first option fail.

Happy that we were doubly secured to the mooring and pleased that the wind and swell were easily manageable due to the protection of the cliffs, we launched the dinghy and motored off to our meeting with Phil.

Plan A was to take the dinghy into the small protected canal at El Arenal, however eight minutes later I took one look at the huge waves rolling into El Arenal beach I decided to abort the approach. I know only too well from scuba diving off my kayak how easily a small vessel can be turned over if it gets itself side on to big rolling waves. I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid.

Plan B was to sneak our dinghy quietly into Javea marina, tie her up in a secluded corner and wander off before we got spotted. Javea marina is quite exclusive and there is nowhere in the harbour to park a dinghy. Plan B worked out perfectly and we headed off to lunch. At some point as we sat enjoying good food and good company I pointed out A B Sea's wildly swinging mast which was the only part of her visible over the harbour wall and jokingly said "As long as we can see her mast doing that, she hasn't lost her mooring and crashed onto the rocks." Everyone laughed. Little did we realise how true those words would become.

After a great day out we motored our dinghy back to A B Sea and by 8.30pm we were settled in our cockpit with a cold beer ready to enjoy another sunset. I noted that it was good that the wind had dropped and the swell was lessening, we were hopefully going to enjoy a good night's sleep. At 10.00pm Aannsha announced that she was going to bed, I said I was going to watch an episode of Sons of Anarchy to wind down before I hit the sack. After a final look around to confirm that we were the only vessel staying the night and the weather was calming down significantly we went below.