Mother Nature doesn't give two hoots what the wind prediction websites have to say, She plays by her own rules.
When I'm lying in bed at night drifting somewhere between sleep and awake, the first sign of the wind building up starts as a gentle slip slap of water ripples echoing through the hull followed by a slowly rising whistling of the wind through the rigging. At a certain wind speed the spare halyard then starts rhythmically slapping against the side of the mast and A B Sea starts rocking and gently straining against her shore lines.
Things like bad weather usually happen at night so laying in bed is a strange sensation somewhat akin to the beginning of a fairground ride that you know is going to be scary. As A B Sea begins to pitch, roll and yaw there's a sensation that the bed is about to drop away from underneath you. It lasts only a split second before you feel your head and feet begin spinning in opposite directions from each other. It's a momentum that never quite achieves its full potential as suddenly your feet begin heading downwards while your head starts an upward trajectory. Each movement lasting no longer than a second before the next change in movement takes hold and the whole process starts again.
Not every night's like that, but that's how the night that we popped four fenders in 2 hours began. We'd been in Kaş harbour for nearly a month tied up to the wharf along our starboard side with all eight fenders deployed along the starboard rails. We knew that strong winds were coming, as big blows are usually predicted well ahead of time and just 2 days before, the captain of one of the Turkish gulets in the harbour had advised us that we should move to somewhere else in the harbour as our current location could be dangerous in the coming weather.
We asked Smiley if there were any openings for us to tie up stern-to further into the harbour, but nothing was available. We'd just have to wait it out where we were. Naively we didn't realise just how much swell would come through the harbour entrance. It wasn't a direct head on swell that was the issue, it was bounce back swell (if that's what it's called) from the rocky shoreline opposite the entrance that caused the problem.
As day turned to night and the wind steadily increased in strength, the waves hitting the shoreline and bouncing in through the harbour entrance became bigger and more frequent and AB Sea was thrashing around like an unbroken stallion straining against her mooring lines. During the daylight hours we'd prepared her as best we could for the coming high winds, which were predicted to gust up to 50 knots. We paid particular attention to the port shorelines, tightening them as much as possible as they were intended to hold us off the wharf as best they could. The very nature of mooring lines is that they are constructed to be slightly elastic so that when a moored vessel does move around there's a forgiving slowing of the strain against any particular line instead of a sudden jerking stop. That elasticity was about to work against us.
As the bigger swells began coming into the harbour it pushed directly against our port side forcing us against the wharf. This movement was followed by the swell bouncing back from the wharf and pushing our starboard side off the wharf. Our forgiving shorelines began stretching as all 9.3 tonnes of A B Sea created a lot of momentum and we watched as one moment we were hard against the side with our fenders rubbing and rolling against the old car tyre that was hanging over the edge of the wharf and the next moment we were 1 metre (3.2 feet) off the side. Eventually our first fender popped with the sheer weight and force of movement against it. We replaced it with one of the still good outlying fenders and went below figuring that we weren't doing any good getting cold and wet standing on the deck.
About an hour later we heard a loud thump, thump, thump on the side of A B Sea and when we went to investigate we saw the same captain standing on the wharf and pointing to where the old car tyre had been. All the rubbing and rolling had caused the rope holding the tyre to wear through and it had departed to the bottom of the harbour. The captain was with two of his Turkish friends and it was decided that we should all scour the harbour to see if we could find some more tyres. Eventually two old tyres were found and distributed along the length of wharf that A B Sea was rubbing and rolling against. With that task completed the three helpful guys wished us luck and headed off into the night.
Aannsha and I continued to adjust our lines and make sure that the ropes holding the tyres were not rubbing against the concrete wharf, we certainly didn't want any more of them headed for Davey Jones's Locker. The wind increased and so did the wind gusts, the swell increased and so did the rolling and rubbing of A B Sea.
That was the sound of a second fender meeting its end. We repositioned our remaining good fenders again only to be met with two more pops in quick succession. We were now down to just four good fenders and at least another 10 hours of the same punishment from the wind and waves. Aannsha headed off to Smiley's restaurant to seek assistance.
Five minutes later she returned with Smiley and the same Turkish guys in tow. A quick discussion was followed by a general consensus that we'd have to move and move quickly before things got worse and we sustained serious damage to the starboard side of our home.
One captain jumped on board and took the helm, Aannsha and I began untying the shore lines and suddenly we were free from the dock and the danger. We were literally moving just around the corner from our original berth but this time we were mooring stern-to. The Turkish captain did an excellent job considering he was manoeuvring a vessel he didn't know and was also fighting against the wind gusts. Pointing A B Sea's bow towards the opposite side of the harbour he instructed Aannsha when to drop the anchor and put A B Sea into reverse as we backed slowly towards our new position. It took a couple of attempts to get it right because of the unhelpful wind gusts, but 10 minutes after leaving our prior perilous position we had several lines ashore and A B Sea stopped acting like an unbroken stallion and became a gently swaying mare that gives rides to young children at fairgrounds.
Relief, gratitude and thanks were in abundance. Relief that we were out of danger. Gratitude that we had suffered nothing more than the loss of four fenders. And thanks to Smiley and the three Turkish guys who came to our aid on such a cold, wet and windy night and were just happy that they could help us out of a bad situation.
You can see the preparation we did for the bad weather and most of that night's events in this week's Sailing A B Sea video out on YouTube (22nd December) and you also get to see the ruins of a Hellenistic temple and the ancient amphitheatre, both of which are right here in Kaş town just a 15 minute stroll from where we are berthed.
Thanks for reading and take it easy.