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Old 30-04-2013, 11:31   #1
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Leaving Your Boat at Anchor on a Windy Day

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.

Jacob
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Old 30-04-2013, 12:20   #2
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Re: Leaving your boat at anchor on a windy day

Just out of curiosity - in which part of St Mike's were you anchored? In the harbor, outside green 3 on the south side, or the back door - San Domingo? I suspect outside G3 as it's more exposed to the southeast.

Great to hear things worked out OK. Capt Rob was indeed the right person at the right place at the right time.
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Old 30-04-2013, 12:32   #3
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Re: Leaving your boat at anchor on a windy day

No. 8. When possible snorkle on your anchor. Mainly for warmer climes and those who are hardy.
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Old 30-04-2013, 12:38   #4
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Yes it was near G-3. I saw a few spots within the St Michaels harbor but those had boats at the time.
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Old 30-04-2013, 14:41   #5
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Re: Leaving your boat at anchor on a windy day

I wonder if most of us ever really don't have that "worried" feeling when leaving the boat at anchor, no matter what our ground system is?
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Old 30-04-2013, 14:55   #6
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Re: Leaving your boat at anchor on a windy day

I personally would not willingly leave a boat on a single Danforth-style anchor unless I had absolute knowledge that it was dug in so deep that any conveivable wind and weather change could not budge it.

In reasonable holding, they're great, I reckon, as anchors for 'mooring' in pairs, in situations where you can be sure the wind will always be from one sector, or in threes for winds from multiple or rotary directions (preferably connected to a single chain using a swivel)
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Old 30-04-2013, 15:10   #7
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Re: Leaving your boat at anchor on a windy day

Jacob,

Thanks again for sharing your experience. As you said, we can all learn from others. Your take-aways are excellent. I particularly like #2. We carry a fortress as a backup and a large next gen (no names to prevent the usual anchor flame wars) on all chain as a primary. The first several times we hung on the new anchor, I didn't trust it even when it held great. When we rode out last seasons derecho down your way (Mill Creek across from the tugboat dock) without budging, I finally started to relax. (Now I've jinxed it...)

BTW - next time you come up this way, try San Domingo Crk. Much better protection, dark mud that holds fantastic and just as easy to get to St Michaels.

Fair winds.
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Old 30-04-2013, 15:24   #8
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Re: Leaving Your Boat at Anchor on a Windy Day

Nancie and I were at ST. Michael's a few years ago (not the "back door" at St Domingos) out from the town with space close limited by the crowd. We saw a neighbor's boat drift off to the east and then hold position some distance away. It was amusing to watch the owners come back in the water taxi and hunt for their boat. The winds were light and the boat was only about 500 yards away,- no real risk, but it gave me notice that this is not a place with great holding.
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Old 30-04-2013, 15:35   #9
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Re: Leaving Your Boat at Anchor on a Windy Day

Leaving a boat at anchor is always stressful, but 15-20K should not trouble any set anchor.
When you set, try full reverse for at least 1/2 a minute. This is equivelent to about 30k of wind. Make sure with transits that there is no movement backwards.

If the wind direction is likely to change significantly a Danforth is a poor choice.
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Old 30-04-2013, 15:49   #10
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Re: Leaving Your Boat at Anchor on a Windy Day

Well, That would be more of a rode for our dinghy not our boat. Excuse me for being rude but that is a lame ground tackle set -up.
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Old 30-04-2013, 15:59   #11
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Re: Leaving Your Boat at Anchor on a Windy Day

I lived near there for 10 years and would not set a danforth or fortress in that area except as a 2nd anchor. The region is prone to late afternoon wind reversal and those anchors don't do well with 180 flips. Best anchor for that area is a spade or fixed plough type with 30+ foot of chain. The spade type will dig in and set easy in hard mud with shell and most will take a 80 flip( a Ronca and manson will not always reset because of mud stuck on bar). If you leave the boat two anchors are in order( late afternoon thunder storms to 40+ knots)
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Old 30-04-2013, 16:01   #12
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Re: Leaving Your Boat at Anchor on a Windy Day

And as he said, it was his secondary. He knew it was lame, that's why it was his secondary. About the same as my stern anchor setup but I have more chain.
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Old 30-04-2013, 19:22   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Leaving a boat at anchor is always stressful, but 15-20K should not trouble any set anchor.
When you set, try full reverse for at least 1/2 a minute. This is equivelent to about 30k of wind. Make sure with transits that there is no movement backwards.

If the wind direction is likely to change significantly a Danforth is a poor choice.
Yes thanks for all the feedback. As to your point I should have used more reverse and it is standard procedure from here on out.
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Old 30-04-2013, 20:54   #14
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Re: Leaving your boat at anchor on a windy day

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don L View Post
I wonder if most of us ever really don't have that "worried" feeling when leaving the boat at anchor, no matter what our ground system is?
Maybe. But for those of us more attuned to the wind, our unconscious minds may pick up a wind shift, even while ashore, before we consciously become aware of it.

Maybe that's what happened with the OP?
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:51   #15
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Re: Leaving Your Boat at Anchor on a Windy Day

Conditions can change and change fast. I was anchored in Eaton's Neck Basin on Long Island one time. A front came through at night with severe thunderstorms followed by gale warnings. Thought I was tucked in nice and secure after having survived the night. The next morning as the tide came in and raised my boat above the level of the protected spit of land the boat dragged despite having stayed put during the squalls over twelve hours before. I was down below when I felt the bump and really surprised to see my boat had dragged crossed the channel and was backed onto the lee shore. Quick action by me (I was alone) got the anchor up with a clump of grass attached to it and I was able to high tail it out of the basin. Lesson learned when the forecast is for winds to pick it's good idea to stay on the boat and keep a close on your position. I've now got several options for anchor alarms too.
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