The prudent captain never wants to arrive at an anchorage after dark, which means that we had to leave our anchorage this morning around 3:30-4:00 AM. Since we were planning on leaving early, I set up our route on the chart plotter before going to bed last night.
This morning I activated the route on the chart plotter and Michelle and I raised the anchor — and that’s when everything fell apart. The chart plotter suddenly went dead and in the pitch black, Michelle had no idea where to steer. With shallow water on 3 sides and many anchored sailboats to avoid, it was a bit frantic. I gave Michelle a heading that I felt sure was safe, but neither of us really knew for sure what the ‘best’ heading was (perhaps it was to put the anchor back down and go back to bed?).
Here’s what I learned:
1) Have an “escape” coordinate available. If something happens in the middle of the night and we need to bug out, we should know what compass heading will give us safe passage. Fatty Goodlander recommends writing the coordinate in grease pencil right next to the compass. Now I understand why that could be important.
2) Review the plan with Michelle (or any crew) BEFORE weighing anchor. If I’d taken 2 minutes to show Michelle the plan on the chart plotter and made sure we both knew the compass headings we needed, we would have had no worries.
So, lessons learned, we’re off to the Bahamas. Oh, and a couple of reboots and a jiggle of a wire or two and all instruments are up and running as they should. The Bahamas are due west of here, right?