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Aannsha’s Blog #56 – Popping fenders

Big winds predicted

You never know what you’re going to get with a yacht when you’re tied up in harbour. One day it’s sunny, the sea is flat calm and night time brings uninterrupted sleep. The next day, and sometimes with or without wind prediction apps confirmation, you can be caught in the path of a big wind front that howls through at 25-30 knots with gusts up to 50 knots in strength. When that happens, you’d be hoping that you’ve already battened down those hatches, tied everything down and secured the boat as best as you can with various lines and strategically deployed all fenders.

The other day we had a heads up that it was going to get windy around Kaş and even in the town harbour, we knew we had to take all necessary precautions and get A B Sea as wind-ready as we could. We were tied side to at the time, with our starboard side against the dock and that evening the big winds came.

We’d been advised by some local sailors that we ought to move from our position but when we’d enquired there hadn’t been anywhere else in the harbour we could move to. So after we got as ready as we could, we went down below and sat tight, hoping to weather the wind storm.

Things started to get rough once the sea swell began slamming us against the dock. It went in waves – literally – and we’d rise on the swell, move towards the dock despite being tied by two lines on our port side that were positioned to keep us away from the concrete. Then as the swell receded, the boat surged away, but the lines tying her to the starboard side would prevent her from going too far and we’d snap back, catch the next swell and flow back to the dock.

Now, A B Sea is a 9.3 tonne vessel and that, coupled with the force that the waves were surging her towards the wharf meant that a large pressure was pressed up against the fenders. Of course, one burst!

Some local sailors came along and asked if they could help and we asked them for tyres. With the fenders popping, at least tyres would help keep A B Sea’s hull away from the solid battering ram of a concrete dock that threatened to scrape her sides at the very least.

We checked our lines, and then another 3 fenders popped! While Baz busied himself with adjusting the lines that held us both to the dock and away from it, I watched the boat getting ever closer in its surging, ever harder in its slamming and ever more likely to get damaged as its fibreglass hull was swept on waves towards the concrete dock. The tyres were almost more of a hindrance than a help as the remaining fenders rode up on them, so there was even less cushioning between A B Sea’s hull from the wharf.

I noticed that there were a couple of scratches on the thin piece of rubber that lines the top of the hull sides. Those scratches were new. I looked at how the boat was now getting closer with every swell, riding higher with every wave, threatening to slam against the wharf with the next surge …

It was only a matter of time before one more swell would have our boat – our home – cracking its side against hard concrete!

I desperately searched around the harbour for more tyres, because although they were causing the fenders to rise up, they were our last point of cushioning. The only tyres left were secured to the quay walls with steel loops.

Baz was doing his best with the lines. I just knew that nothing was going to help.

“I’m going to Smiley’s,” I shouted through the wind. “He may know someone who can give us more fenders.” As a novice sailor, I naively thought more fenders would work. It hadn’t occurred to me that more fenders would just end up as more burst fenders.

Fortunately, I found Smiley out the front of his restaurant talking with someone. I interrupted as politely as I could and after telling him our situation, and I think hearing the concern in my voice, Smiley immediately ended his conversation and came with me to find some help. We couldn’t see any spare fenders anywhere, short of taking them from boats on the hard, which wasn’t really an option. When we got to the harbour master’s office, the guys who had helped us earlier were sitting in a car, I think waiting in case they were needed again that night to protect their own boats.

It was now nearly midnight and I could hardly wait to get them all back to A B Sea to help assess the situation and do something that would save her.

Once back at our boat with Baz, it was quickly agreed that we should move immediately.

One of the guys (a skipper of one of the large tourist boats) jumped aboard and took the helm while Baz and I managed the lines. I went forward and waited for the skipper’s instructions to drop the anchor, and after a couple of attempts, we had moved from being side to the dock, to stern to, literally just around the corner from where we originally were. The guys helped tie us to the quay and to the large tourist boat next to us and after giving an impassioned message to our rolling video camera that Turkish people love everyone and do not want war, the guys left with a promise that we’d buy them coffee.

A B Sea seemed to much prefer her stern to position. Instead of bucking and bracing like one of those rodeo ride bulls, she settled down into more of a rolling, rocking hobby horse movement. Instead of almost slamming one side against the dock, she was now much more able to move gently with the force of the wind and waves, enabling us to finally breathe big sighs of relief.

If we hadn’t moved A B Sea when we did I’m certain she would have suffered extremely severe damage to her starboard side. I was almost midnight when we moved and the wind and surge didn’t recede for another six hours and I know the four fenders we had left wouldn’t have lasted more than a few more minutes. As it was, Barry and I were able to go below and, after a quick debrief and hug, we actually managed to get some sleep. Okay the sleep was fitful as we had to get used to altered sounds as the ropes pulled and creaks echoed differently through the hull from where we had been, and we occasionally checked that our position hadn’t edged closer to the dock or the other boat.

We're now next to the tourist boat

The next morning, we were greeted by sunny skies and lighter breezes. A B Sea settled into her new mooring happily and as I type we’re still here – until a berth becomes available on the other side of the harbour with lazy lines to keep us in position, which means we’ll have less strain on the anchor, anchor chain, snubber and windlass.

Also that morning, our friend Jens who lives on his yacht in Kaş marina, surprised us by bringing us two of his old fenders that he said he didn’t need any more. What a lovely gesture! We’ve agreed on the price of a few beers and will pay him those when we meet up some time in the new year.

Thank you Jens

Of course, with the boat stern to, we needed to affix the passerelle (complete with newly made wheels). That turned out to be a bit of a work in progress, but that is definitely a story for another day.

We made the most of the sunny weather and visited the local Hellenistic sites in Kaş – the amphitheatre and temple. And we made a sumptuous big breakfast with the bacon and pork sausages that we bought in Fethiye last week. With the addition of some eggs and baked beans it was exactly what two old English newbie sailors had dreamed of!

Now the only thing we haven’t done is find those wonderful sailor guys and bought them a coffee or two…

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