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Old 03-07-2012, 16:12   #1
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Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

Couldn't get the wonderful Spade anchor to set today. It just goes to show that no anchor is perfect.

We are lying to the aforementioned anchor in Portland Harbor, which was a great military harbor, a huge basin surrounded by breakwaters, in the lee of the Isle of Portland, for which Portland Cement is named. Huge empty forts from the Napoleonic Wars era guard it.

Now it is for commercial ships and yachts.

We had a fabulous sail from the Hamble today. Up at the crack of dawn and then motored across to Cowes to get lifted and bottom scrubbed. Changed anodes etc. Took on water, and then set off down the Solent. Got some snide looks for motoring in a perfectly good sailing wind, but we needed to cook some lunch, then tighten backstay, change one sheave on a jib car, etc., before we could sail, so we did all that while motoring out of the Needles Channel, then raised sail. With a freshly cleaned bottom we had a smashing sail on a close reach down to a point 5 of 6 miles off St. Albans Head, in order to avoid the firing range, which was active, reefed down pretty well in the 25 knot wind. Used Bash's trick to balance the helm by reefing the main more aggressively rather than let down the traveler -- yep, works as advertised -- that is, brilliantly. Reached the waypoint, then headed off on a rollicking beam reach, all reefs shaken out, staysail set, 9 and 10 knots of boat speed. We made 52 miles in 6 hours altogether.

It was p*****ng down rain the whole time -- great, English weather. But it was a fine sailing wind, smooth sea, and pretty warm, so I'm not complaining. We sailed into the vast harbor and dumped the hook, and could not for the life of us get it to set. Soft mud. Finally got it to set just when we would be tangling with an empty mooring -- so anchor up and try again. Same story again, but finally it set. So the Spade does not work as magically in soft mud, as it does in other conditions.
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Old 03-07-2012, 16:41   #2
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

Sounds like you had one of those lovely sails that makes it ALL worthwhile :-) really this anchoring is always a bit hit and miss.

Imagine examining the sea bottom with water removed, the topography would range from rock, sand, clay, coral, grit, rubbish, slush and weed just to name a few.

Then we come along with our man made hook expecting first up, fantastic performance yet that topography varies so much. Mud can (like all strata's) have all kinds of consistency, to design anything to cope with the variance i think is a big ask.

Testing can only be done in set strata's and they can never concisely match what will be found in this huge wet world. Tests are comparisons only in similar circumstance.

When we started our life with boats some 40 years ago we lusted after CQR's they were the tools of true yachtsmen. We in Australia could only afford lead filled plough anchors, they worked well enough but always we admired the CQR....

Nowadays a CQR doesn't come close to the high holding power anchors available. We use a KOBRA i'd never seen one prior but to date we are totally impressed in sand, mud and various lengthed weed. We had a non-setting situation once and for all we know a shell may have covered the tip.

We tend to anchor here in 15 + metres of water and it's cold so we don't dive to check set. We do notice the anchor will not break out till we are directly above.

Regardless of all the tests the truth comes out with use over time.

Keep logging those magic sails good stuff!!!!
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Old 03-07-2012, 17:05   #3
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

I find that Danforths work well in soft mud.
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Old 03-07-2012, 17:11   #4
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

Thanks for the report. I think true life reports mean much more than all the marketing hype.
The Spade is a great anchor, but I do think it has a slight weakness in very soft substraites without a firm base lower down. On the other hand it seems very good at coping with short scopes. The new generation anchors are so good that even faced with their poorest substrate they still perform adequately, but it's still helpful to know the situations when they are likely to be more marginal.
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Old 03-07-2012, 17:11   #5
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

Absolutely where i grew up in Brisbane they were and maybe still are the anchor of choice, storage and possible damage (bending) were concerns on our other boats so we stuck to the ploughs and plough we did!!!
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Old 03-07-2012, 17:29   #6
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

Oh. Boy! An anchor thread!
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Old 03-07-2012, 17:33   #7
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

Wonder if carclubs have handbrake threads?????
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Old 03-07-2012, 19:29   #8
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

Someone has to say it.

You wouldnt have dragged if you had a rocna.

There. I said it. Its an anchor thread so it was going to happen sooner or later
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Old 03-07-2012, 19:54   #9
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

Rock? na... Mud? ya.........
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Old 03-07-2012, 20:24   #10
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Sometimes you just have to go a touch away from where you wanted to anchor. Done this before. I could sware I felt the anchor clunck into hard pan right before it dragged. Different anchors different places. Sometimes you have to move the expectation and find a different piece of bottom.
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Old 03-07-2012, 21:04   #11
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

Quote:
Originally Posted by sck5 View Post
Someone has to say it. I LOVE MANSON SUPREME!

You wouldnt have dragged if you had a MANSON SUPREME.

There. I said it. Its an anchor thread so it was going to happen sooner or later
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Old 03-07-2012, 22:47   #12
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

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Sometimes you just have to go a touch away from where you wanted to anchor. Done this before. I could sware I felt the anchor clunck into hard pan right before it dragged. Different anchors different places. Sometimes you have to move the expectation and find a different piece of bottom.
A different piece of bottom,,,,, thread drift!!!!!!!
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Old 03-07-2012, 23:37   #13
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

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I find that Danforths work well in soft mud.
I thought about using my Fortress. I have the "mud palms" for it. The conditions were not challenging last night and it might have been a good chance to try it. But the Spade should have set! I have been using them on different boats for over 10 years, and this is the first time I have experienced them simply refusing to set.

The problem seems to be that a sticky ball of mud forms around it and so it doesn't go into the seabed. Perhaps it is a peculiar consistency of mud which does this -- not just soft, but sticky. I am surprised because this is a well-established anchorage, used for centuries.

On the other hand -- I chose a nice wide-open spot -- maybe it was wide open for a reason! As soon as I drug the anchor out of this wide open spot and into the area with moorings, the anchor set, every time.

Ah, well.
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Old 04-07-2012, 00:46   #14
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

Sounds like clayey-silt. Liquifies around the stressed edges as the load jiggles or vibrates.
Wouldn't think it suitable for any anchor. Bit like liquifaction that occurs in earthquakes - ground holds until a big enough shake comes along. I'm inclined to think the anchor did not fail but your technique was good enough to expose the suspect soil.
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Old 04-07-2012, 00:52   #15
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Re: Couldn't Get the Anchor to Set Today

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Sounds like clayey-silt. Liquifies around the stressed edges as the load jiggles or vibrates.
Wouldn't think it suitable for any anchor. Bit like liquifaction that occurs in earthquakes - ground holds until a big enough shake comes along. I'm inclined to think the anchor did not fail but your technique was good enough to expose the suspect soil.
I don't blame the anchor-- of course no anchor will set everywhere, everytime (although the Spade comes very close). Like one of the previous posters said -- we can't even see what's down there, drop our hooks, and expect them to grab every time -- a bit silly, actually.

Concerning my technique -- I am starting to have doubts. I slowly and gently pulled the anchor probably 200 meters across the sea bed, trying to get it to set. I realize now that this was a mistake -- what if I grabbed an old ship's mooring chain? I could easily lose the anchor. Note to self: If it doesn't set right away, pull it right up and try again. Don't plow across the anchorage with it. That was stupid.
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