Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things that work when it gets ugly...

We had an evil tropical wave blow through over the weekend...

According to the weather wonks we had winds of 40 knots and lots of rain. The winds were seriously evil as they gusted in short bursts and changed directions with a whim and vigor. Just the sort of situation that is perfect for dragging anchor!

Two things everyone should know who plans to sail off into the sunset and spend a lot of time at anchor is that...

A. Everyone drags (at some time or other)
B. Anchor tests never quite get it right.

So, being no different than anyone else, we dragged (apparently our turn yet again). The holding in the lagoon is always iffy but we have been sitting here for awhile and the anchor was well dug in but the erratic wind gusts did their thing and there we were dragging at speed towards shore.

This is where all the anchor tests get it wrong as every bit of foul weather and mayhem I have experienced in anchorages has always been most evil when the wind and wave action made for an erratic motion. Which makes you wonder about just how accurate all the straight pull tests done on anchors are... Just something to keep in mind when you read that X anchor has Y amount of pounds of holding power!

Luckily we were onboard at the time or it could have become a messy situation, but being that we are experienced at handling scenery changing without permission situations the drill is pretty clear cut. First step is always to let out more scope in the hope that it will stop "that dragging feeling" (apologies to the Righteous Brothers) and in this case as it did not, the next step is to up anchor and re-anchor.

I should add at this point its blowing like hell and pouring a Noah's worth deluge! I can't hear whats going on in the cockpit and the cockpit can't hear me. Taking care of the anchor is easy as we have a Simpson Lawernce manual windless also known as the Anchorman (which very sadly is no longer made). Easy because as it is manual I can crank the anchor up without worrying if it will work. The SL is bombproof and fueled by a soaked pissed off guy like me with an adrenalin rush the anchor comes in FAST!

Back in the cockpit the smarter half (remember I'm the one on the foredeck looking like a drowned rat) under the new hard dodger turns on the motor and we move the boat up to re-anchor. The fact that moving the boat against 35ish knots of wind does not even have our Electric Yacht motor breathing hard and using 35 amps an hour in the process. Color us very, very happy campers!

The whole point of course is you really need to be able to depend on the stuff you bolt to your boat. I don't fault our anchor as most likely we would have dragged with any type of anchor in the same situation or maybe not. Which is something of the conundrum factor of anchors in that there are just so many variables ... anchor type, scope, bottom, wind , wave, current, windage and just plain luck that it is almost impossible to always get it right which brings us back to the "Everyone drags" and "Anchor tests never get it right".