So I was cruising the Chesapeake this weekend and decided to anchor
off of St. Michaels to attend the local Wine Festival. After arriving my primary anchor windlass
was not working so I decided to go to a secondary Fortress
Anchor on a 150' nylon rope
with 10' of chain. The water depth
was 17' so I put out 100' of line. The anchor set and I was satisfied (as much as one could be) about this unfamiliar backup I was using. The wind
was blowing out of the Southeast at about 15-20 with occasional gusts. A few other boats were anchored out so that gave me a degree of confidence also. I watched my postion and set a drag alarm
to see if there was any drift. After a while I was satisfied and my lady and I dinghyed off to the wine festival. Still a little paranoid I would look out at the water
whenever I had a chance and get a warm fuzzy about the situation. Of course my girl friend thinks I am just being weird about this and laughs at me everytime I run off.
And then it wasn't there. You get that horrible feeling in your stomach and realize how stupid you've been. Your fears have come to fruition. I gathered up the lady and took the dink back to conduct the search for my probrabaly aground boat. As we motor
out I see her about a 3/4 of a mile off across the river. Fortunately I see a flashing light and a wonderful red hulled boat near her. Thank God at least someone is on the scene and has begun efforts to free her from what i believe is her demise on a shoal. As we get closer I see that the Tow Boat U.S. has her under tow and is heading our way. We signal him that we are the lost
crew and meet up in the middle of the channel.
He reports that he was watching her as she made her way across the river and went off after he realized what was happening. Fortunately he retrieved her before she ran aground and there was no damage of any kind to the boat (only my ego). He reported that the anchor was fouled with oyster
shells. After offering Captain
Rob my first born and enormous praises for his service
and vigilance I exchanged my Boat U.S. insurance
info (which he did not even want!) and I headed home with tail between my legs.
So a few lessons learned:
1. Stay pierside on a windy day if possible
2. Don't use untested gear
on an unfamiliar bottom
3. Let out all of your rode
if you have the room
4. Find out the bottom composition and use an approriate anchor (Fortress Failed on Muddy bottom with oysters)
5. Don't rush your comfort factor
6. Trouble shoot problems before you need that system (the broken winlass here)
7. Stay at home and don't go sailing? No!
A bit of a hit to the ego but I can live with that. I always have something new to learn. As a pilot we talk about our failures and I wanted to share and get any advice/ other lessons learned on this subject.
Many thanks to Tow Boat U.S. Captain
Rob in St. Michaels. I love those guys and the price
is right. I plan on getting him a better thank you in the mail.