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Dropping the Hook in Leinster Bay

In the days before the National Park Service supplied moorings, I dropped the hook, just before sundown, deep into the west side of Leinster Bay (St. John). I have seen charts that call it Waterlemon Bay but I’ve never heard anyone call it that out loud.

Leinster Bay

I had three charterers from California aboard the ol’ HELEN R and we arrived at Leinster later than I would have preferred. It was getting dark and close to dinner time. I had no salad girl aboard so I was doing all the cooking and as soon as I let out an appropriate amount of scope, I dove below to start dinner. There was no breeze and the chain rode hung straight down.

While the steaks and potatoes cooked, I passed up drinks and snacks. In the cockpit, the clientele were getting looped and enjoying the meteorites that streaked across the clear August sky. It was an hour before I was ready to serve dinner and I had passed one plate through the companionway when I heard an outboard rattle up close by the port side.

“Ahoy!” an invisible voice hailed. I poked my head out of the hatch and repeated the greeting. “Ahoy back to you,” I said. The voice shined a flashlight in my eyes to ensure that I could see nothing and said, “Did you notice you’re kinda drifting?” I shaded my eyes, looked around and to the northeast I could make out the lights on the west end of Little Thatch and even a few lights on the house at Steele Point. Damn, we had drifted west clear down to Mary Creek—which isn’t a creek at all, much less a navigable waterway— and were moments away from going aground.


Pusser's is a favorite throughout the BVI.

Uncharacteristically, the HELEN R’s cranky Yanmar started instantly and after winding the rode in with the windlass, I motored back to the anchorage as nonchalantly as possible. I gave the helm to one of the charterers and went forward to drop the hook…again…and again… and again. But I never got it to grab. Hundreds of anchors over the years had dragged all the sand down to the deep middle of the bay and all that was left in the center of the anchorage was a hard, dead coral moonscape.

The cove was filled with boats and we were in the only spot left to anchor so after about an hour, I gave up and motored over to West End and picked up a mooring.

The really painful part of the story is that my supper was ruined and I ended up getting stuck for dinner and drinks at Pusser’s.

The moral is, don’t start dinner ‘til you know the anchor is set; you may pay for it in the end. And you now know why the National Park Service politely requests that, whenever possible, use its moorings and not an anchor.


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