NIGHTMARE AT SEA!!! (everything goes wrong) Ep. 119

Drifting out to sea, in 40 knots of wind, attached to another vessel by anchor chain. We had to be rescued by the coast guard that turned out to be an extremely old fishing boat. The Meltemi wind was blowing a steady 35 – 40 knots all day, we were safely anchored in a sheltered bay UNTIL… another boat anchored on top of our anchor and off we went, attached to one another, just avoiding running into a super yacht in the anchorage and then out to sea. The video is pretty self explanatory. I’m going to save my energy in writing a huge description to go a grab a well earned beer. What a day. The worst day of my whole life.

Song Credits:
00:00 Jimmy Pinch – Magus 
00:59 3 – Jason Lyle
05:43 Luis Trinidad – Can you see this Darkness


Videos made by Elayna!!
We would not have captured any of this incident without the help our man Daniel

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What equipment do we use?

What software do we use?
Video Editing: Adobe Premier Pro
Weather Forecasts: Predict Wind

Comments 43

  1. I sure hope you guys have come up with a plan and tools for cutting the chain and having a backup anchor & chain.

    You might want to consider getting some scuba tanks and gear to deal with issues like this and for general boat maintenance.

    how many months are you guys behind in your video’s?

    Take care guys!,

  2. Oh dear! That happened to us in Calvi, except we hit the super yacht . I was ashore while Sue and the kids had remained on board. Luckily some Italians on a Catana boarded us and retrieved the situation. I was somewhat perplexed to return to our boat and find her anchored in a different spot with our pulpit smashed up. This is always a really difficult situation because the wind always seems to be 30+, the loads are huge and anchoring equipment is heavy and dangerous. You guys did well and your “lessons learned” are spot on. I guess the only thing that was OK is that you were drifting out to sea and not on to a lee shore, though that may not have been immediately obvious as a “good” thing. I guess my lesson learned was to be especially vigilant of what other boats do near where your anchor is. We always let out heaps of chain (min scope = 5 or 30m, which ever is the longer) but this is the downside of that strategy. We had 100m chain out at the time in Calvi in 21m depth.

  3. So glad you made it through this, but really you seem to be such a calm and cunning crew, with the luck of the Irish, I’m always impressed buy your ability to think on your feet or underwater, keep having fun and showing us the world!

  4. Very glad everybody survived, apart from Riley’s cuts! On a positive note, it was a really good video with some very valuable lessons.

  5. Great work and video. From what l saw you did everything right including the amount of chain you had out, it is always an issue that others don’t understand this basic bit of seamanship and allow for it. As someone else wrote thank god it wasn’t a Lee shore! I look forward to viewing your next adventure,let’s hope it’s not as dramatic! Cheers, Steve.

  6. I was tearing up watching this, not only with joy at how you both worked and dealt with it but with empathy. I am an Ex-Adelaidean on my own boat (lagoon 450) in Croatia and I know exactly what you were dealing with. Like you we have ‘rescued” a boat adrift as it headed out to sea in a storm (only at 1 AM!) Like you I have been at the mercy of the elements as things unfolded faster than I could comprehend or process. (the Bura!!! +70 knots!!) and a rope around the propeller. The saying “nothing good happens fast at sea” is so true. If it’s happening fast it’s not good! And bad things happen really quickly. You remain an inspiration.

  7. Hello Riley and Elayna, high drama indeed and all too common in the Med when it is blowing. Lessons I learnt over our 7 years there are 1. never trust anybody anchoring ahead of you especially in those conditions, move them on and 2. always have a second anchor ready to go immediately. We had exactly your scenario in Elba when a yacht dragged onto us in 35 knots and picked up our anchor chain with his propeller. I dinghied the second anchor out on 90m of rope and chain. This stopped the dragging and gave us slack on our main anchor chain so we could untangle the propeller.
    Well done to stay so cool though.

  8. outstanding Riley and Elayna, just what I would expect from a seasoned crew like the two of you. You were very kind not to cut anchor and stay attached to the second boat. I’m sure there are others not as courteous as the two of you who would have cut and run leaving the other family to fend for themselves so cheers for having a great moral compass!! Just the same having scuba gear and a spare anchor and chain, as well as maybe a bolt cutter to cut a fouled chain all sound like good precautions. You mentioned a word that i did not understand, can you explain what a “sipiyat” is and I am just guessing at the spelling of that word. anyway you referred to it as what Elayna maneuvered the cat around before you began drifting out to sea. anyway can you tell us how the situation concluded? did you have to cut the chain or were the divers able to simply untangle the two anchor lines from his propellor? did you need to use your insurance for this? how much did the coast guard charge you if at all for assisting you? you guys are still my favorite and my wife and i are still planning to purchase a cat sometime before i retire so keep up the good work and we wish you calm seas and smooth sailing.

    1. Hahaha sipiyat! Aussie speak for super yacht maybe. Elayna is easier to understand for my wife and I!

  9. Hello Elayna & Riley,
    I am a USCG Licensed Captain and retired commercial hard hat diver after 45 years in New York Harbor and the east coast waters of the USA now 73 years old. My first recommendation is like the first comment have SCUBA equipment onboard especially with the voyages that you do. I know that Riley is young and strong but sometimes you need to breathe underwater to get a task done. I have been there and done this many times in hard hat gear and SCUBA. Always take a good line and tie a double clove with a few rolling hitches to the chain up wind and then back to the vessel down wind to take the strain off the part you are trying to free up. Have bolt cutters and a sharp Victorinox knife (the sharpest knife in the world) on board with 3′ tether lines and snap hook the tools to your SCUBA harness so you won’t drop the tool to the bottom. You can use a short piece of hose for the knife sheath. Always wear gloves when working underwater or some day you will be sorry you didn’t. I still have all my fingers intact after over 10,000 hrs underwater.
    I like to watch your interesting videos and my prayer for you is that our Heavenly Father will watch over you and guide you on your journeys.

  10. Well done guys. With regards to the comment from Bob Haskins, not sure if a back up anchor would have helped. Also knowing from sailing the South China Sea in 5m seas and taking a video, it does not do it justice as to how incredibly harsh the conditions would have been. Having scuba gear probably also wouldn’t have helped much with the massive surge Riley had to face under the power boat.
    Bloody good effort and true seamanship not just cutting the anchor to save yourselves, but thinking of your fellow sailors despite them causing it. Very honourable!

  11. 2 months ago our boat flipped in rough seas. Had my 78 year old father with me and had to abandon ship (toughest decision of my life!). We floated around for a couple of hours when local disherman saved us. Luckily we retrieved the sat phone and could get a motorised boat out later. Terrifying! Glad you guys are OK

  12. Very glad that it went well (aside from the stress and minor injuries). Very dangerous with a dragging chain especially when free diving, Riley. I am glad you were not caught & drowned, or seriously mangled on the prop. Do not worry about the damn superyacht: it’s insured, to hell with their uniformed crew. I am glad you were able to save the boat and nothing serious ended up happening (damn good quick action, if not risky). Your life is worth more than a thing: whether it is a boat, a car, a house, etc. I am very glad it worked out and you guys are safe.

    I am interested in learning more about this Iceland project (I want to sail there and ski it myself). If you ever get the idea to visit British Columbia and Washington, and sail our waters, let me know.

    Glad you guys are safe. Thanks for sharing your videos with us (even the dodgy ones).

  13. Cool stayed calm great, all weather are predicted with a 40 percent deviation of above or below the predicted strength or size, its in the fine print, and usually allways above so allow this into all your forecasting. All sailing is reliant on weather forecasting the most important aspect of going to sea. Safe sailing you mob.
    From 2 cat enthusiasts from Darwin Bill n Kim

  14. Glad you guys are okay! You’re obviously well seasoned sailors now. I think about your earliest videos and what might have happened if this had occurred then. Proud of you both…

  15. WOW, looks like you guys pulled a rabbit to avoid being wrecked & drowned. a 2nd anchor & chain sounds like a good precaution, and mebbe a drogue (water parachute) too? hindsight suggests a stout helmet too, mebbe an open face motorcycle helmet to protect your head from being caved by the hull or prop if ever again in a similar situation.
    i’m glad you’re ok.

  16. Hey guys well done kept your cool and even kept the other crew calm.
    Your average dreaming web surfer can’t possibly understand how traumatic a situation like this can be I actually shed a small tear in empathy as I watched. Back in September my brand new mooring dragged about 40 m without explanation haven’t slept well since.

  17. Great explanation of anchoring principles and the need for constant vigilance at sea.

    One question

    Why not cast off your anchor chain after the coast guard arrived?

    Heading back still attached was not your only option and (as you said) coming alongside while still attached to the prop on the other boat was risky.


  18. There will be few Med yachtsmen who have not been involved in very similar dramas – though they more often than not happen in the middle of the night. Did you consider cutting your chain and then going round and taking the motor boat in tow?

    And well done the Fishing boat skipper who appeared to be on his own and who got the two boats, tied together by an anchor chain, in such a good position that they were able to get alongside the jetty.

  19. Hi, Riley and Elayna,

    I just wanted to say that these kinds of trials just make you both mentally stronger, if you could be stronger than you already are and make the good times even more appreciated.
    I just began watching your videos a few days ago after seeing you on Brisbane news TV and I am so impressed by your achievements and your willingness to share the dream that many of us have when we’re young.
    Thank you for living it for us. Very best wishes for calm seas and smooth sailing!!

  20. Pretty exciting stuff there! A pity you didn’t have the video running for the encounter with the super yacht. That would have interesting to see their expressions. Very glad to hear that all ended safe and well, with the exception of some minor flesh wounds (be careful of infection from such marine based cuts). Meltemi is ferocious for the unwary, as are other people’s actions.
    Advice from behind the keyboard when not in the heat of the moment:
    * The best action anyone can do is put themselves in a position to help. There’s no ethical hazard there. When tethered in the way your boats were tangled, both vessels were helpless, which is a danger to your boats, your crew and other craft.
    * Release your anchor chain from your boat and cast aside. Support the bitter end with a fender for easy recovery later. Ideally there should be a back-up anchor with some chain and lots of warp if the primary is not recovered.
    * Every anchor chain should have a bitter end of warp tied off to the anchor locker that can be easily cut for exactly these situations, with a simple knife, no bolt cutters required.
    * Cutting your anchor warp free would put you in a position to assist with full mobility of your craft, attach a tow rope to the distressed vessel, transfer equipment, transfer crew and/or provide emergency transportation.
    * Making way back upwind may not have been easy under tow but finding another area of refuge downwind may have been a possibility, though at worst, you would still have some directional control to guide away from a lee shore and await further assistance. At worst, the stricken vessel could abandon ship to the safety of your vessel.
    * A good reason to use a buoyed anchor retrieval line, which advertises where your anchor is and the aspect of your chain to alert others.
    All is well that ends well. Nice job on getting through it with a safe outcome, regardless of the path.

  21. Great vid and exciting times! Not quite sure why you didn’t just cut the anchor then tow the others in?! And second anchor should always be at the ready for situations like that. But well done for getting yourselves rescued. I hope you bought the fisherman a rum or three!

  22. Thank you for your video, and didn’t you do well in such a dire situation. Lessons have been learnt, and what I liked about it you were not afraid to show the viewers what can go wrong well done, and I hope you both are ok now.

    Take care I’m with you always.


  23. Guys fantastic job….but those who have advised the use of bolt croppers are dreaming. Before I started cruising I went to my local rigger and had a go at cutting wire shrouds 9mm and 12mm. Was just possible to cut the 9mm ( with the croppers on the floor and all my weight on the arms) but the 12mm was impossible. That not only brings about some doubt as to how effective croppers would be to cut the shrouds of a broken mast but I suggest it would be impossible to cut anchor chain on dry land let alone in the water with no purchase. I have also been amazed how many boaters DONT have a rope piece on the bitter end in the locker. When we bought our boat, an HR42 the chain bitter end was shackled to a ring in the locker…….!!! I concluded that the only cutters worth having are either hydraulic assisted or explosive charge …….

  24. What a close call, well done on recovering from a dreadful event. Do you think an anchor buoy would have helped to avoid the problem developing? That way other boats can see the position of your anchor.

  25. Well I hope you have a better day tomorrow! Thank you for all the hard work you put into the episodes. Cheer up Elayna, it will be okay. You have many loving fans and fellow sailors, who would be glad to help if you get into any trouble. Riley too.

    Maj. Dean

  26. Glad you both are safe and all concerned as well. Keeping an extra anchor ready to deploy is always a must in case a problem arises. I have had the same experience many times in my life living aboard my Morning Star for the past 20 years on the hook or mooring ball. HOWEVER the extra anchor doesn’t work all the time as we just had our NIGHTMARE AT SEA when Hurricane Irma came thru the Keys in September. I foolishly decided to stay aboard thinking the storm was going to head north and up the east coast of Florida and we should have only experienced tropical force storm winds like Hurricane Mathew the year before. Having been thru many tropical storms and Hurricane Charlie in 2004 I felt confident in my boat and still do after loosing her to Irma. Saturday night about 9:15pm we came free of the mooring ball and I went forward to deploy the anchor with winds of 40 – 50 knots, rain, and 4-5 ft. seas. The anchor didn’t hold and we were dragging and headed towards the Navy base to pay a visit to the rocks and cement along with the 15 or 20 sailboats that were wrecked there earlier some stacked upon each other. Actually the anchor acted like a drouge or sea anchor to keep us off the graveyard only to keep us in the channel, moving along at about 6kts with the tide and the upcoming Fleming Key bridge which is only 18ft and we’ve got a 50ft mast. Needless to say we were demasted then proceeded to be hurled upon and scraped along a 2,300 ft seawall belonging to the Navy and Coast Guard on the north side of Key West. Having absolutely no control of the boat which was heading out to sea within minutes I made the decision to abandon ship and my girlfriend and I jumped off the boat and onto the base much to the Coast Guards dismay. My beloved Morning Star, our home for over 20 years then went out in the main Key West harbor channel and out to sea facing the upcoming fury of Irma and her 150+ winds and probably 15-20 ft seas. We wound up spending the night and next day on the 3 floor of the city parking garage…I plan on writing a more detailed story and buying another boat soon to go back to Key West to continue my life on the water. We lost our home and everything we owned but thank the Lord above we have our lives and desire to continue our life on the water. Keep up your great life and continue to video your exploits both good times and bad. I have been watching you since the beginning and you both inspire a lot of people out there. Calm seas and fair winds and may God Bless. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Captain Dave.

  27. Hi Riley, and Elayna, and Kayla and Daniel,

    Well done! Both Yachts saved, everyone safely ashore. That’s a great result, it could have been very different.

    What I particularly liked was that you (crew of the Vaga) made your choices and quickly acted upon them. You used your skills and experience learned over the last few years to do everything you could to resolve the situation. Great work on the helm to avoid becoming a 3 vessel mess and diving on the prop early before the Seas got to messy. (Poor decisions buy the other boat perhaps)

    Good decision to come out of the water when you did Riley. I’d have been out earlier.

    I have to send a big hug to your crew, Kayla and Daniel, that must have been one shocking experience for those less familiar with their surroundings. Great work you two, being part of the solution and not adding to the problem.

    You could have dealt with it diffently, but what you did worked well for you. That’s what counts.

    Ive not had a similar experience, so watching your video has brought a few thoughts to mind along with the comments above, I’ll be checking some of my gear, (ropes at the chain /hull connection thanks Philip) and adding a helmet to my diving locker.

    I’ve been following you guys from the very start, you’re an inspiration.

    I hope I’ve got your crews names right , my brains frazzled from the video.

    Love, hugs, fair winds and calm seas


  28. I don’t of course know how the inner end of your anchor cable is secured in the boat but it should be secured by a length of rope and not a shackle so that it can be cut in an emergency; and, if you’ll forgive me, yachts should carry more than one anchor. I used to carry three and a goodly length of spare chain.

  29. Riley you made a call as a captain and despite the other comments I can see that you have evaluated the situation and will be equiped when it happens again and it will!
    I could also see how much Elayna loves you so be wise before going under boats in those conditions.
    Merry Christmas Chris

  30. In my 50 plus years making my living on the water l’very seen this time and time again. I have pulled my anchor and moved to another spot when i’ve seen that stupidity is alive and well on the boat that came up wind and dropped anchor on top of me.any one can learn to do things right if they just use a little common sense these videos are a good place to start or ask questions to people who have experience on the water.never anchor up or down wind near another boat and leave the alcohol alone in severe conditions. stupidity is an awful thing it don’t only do boat damage it can cost limb’s and live’s as vagabonde with 2 engines should have tried to maneuver side ways to the stupid boat and pulled up close get slack in the anchor chain and back down wide open keep doing this until you jerk the prop, shaft and strut out from under the stupid boat.then if your still not free then you cut your anchor chain so they don’t drag you down while they are sinking.some times stupidity deserves harsh treatment.

  31. Hi folks, so glad you were able to resolve the situation with minimum damage all round .Wade’s comment is spot on .When you take on full responsibility for a deteriorating situation you become part of the outcome good or bad. In the heat of the moment we tend to minimise personal risk while maximising perceived severity. Easy to say hard to do at the time. . She’ll be right.
    Take good care , merry christmas and a safe and happy new year.Oh Arhhh!.x

  32. I’m very happy the situation did not deteriorate after the foul. Riley, if it were not for the kink in the chain at the prop you would have fixed everything, of course the anchors would have been the next job to untangle but you would have figured it out.
    Now, what could be learned from this experience? Gorge should have known the geometry and applied depth to boat mathematics. So that would mean his boating education was lacking. Notably, sighting a anchor rode and determining the distance the anchor is from the boat by the rodes angle from boat to sea level continuing the imagined rode to the bottom is not good enough. Now he knows I’m just sorry his lack of seamanship is the reason it happened. But, what could you learn to do given the next similar situation in a bay ?

  33. Glad you are both OK. It is amazing how some people don’t know how to anchor and don’t realize that your anchor is already down there, a fair distance in front of your hull. We used to anchor in Newport Beach, CA a lot of weekends, and would always try to get into the upwind corner of the buoyed anchorage so no could anchor upwind of us, but there was always someone in a big powerboat who tried to do it. I would stand out on the foredeck and warn people away. Some people would get testy about it. More than once I said I would call the Harbor Patrol if they insisted on anchoring there. One time a large power boat did drift down on us when the owner and professional captain were ashore. They’re guests didn’t have a clue what to do and we fended them off for nearly an hour until the captain arrived. My bow light got smashed. But, it’s all part of the game.

  34. I know the feeling of being helpless. In August of this year, 3 hours out of Milford Haven in moderate to rough conditions at 01.30 in the morning we tangled with a lobster pot marker that stopped us in our tracks stalling the engine. We were in 30 metres of water! Sails down except for the headsail we tried to untangle ourselves to no avail. Radioed for assistance and the Angle life boat who got to us in less than 2 hours were able to cut the rope from around the prop shaft and tow us back to Milford Haven. A diver later that morning cleared the remnants of the rope and we were back on track for Dublin late morning. Further inspection on arrival home showed a bent prop shaft and gouges out of the keel and rudder. Lucky escape!

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