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Old 25-07-2014, 08:48   #1
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My Worst Anchoring Experience....

This seems to be the best spot on the forum to park this, considering it may involve embarassing confessions, or denunciations, or something. Hopefully instructive, perhaps even amusing.

I'll start the bidding with....

In the late 90's I shared a house with a young couple in East Brisbane. He owned a centre console runabout and invited me along for a weekend trip to Moreton Island. It was a rough trip over, typical Moreton Bay chop with a brisk easterly over the outgoing tide. Thrilling stuff, but then again I'm the sicko hopping about in his seat calling "more! more!" when an airliner hits turbulence, while the neighbours are going green and grabbing the greaseproof paper bags. I can do this because I know the pilot isn't on his first flight, and the plane can handle it. Landings are a different story, since terra firma is firma than air, or even water, and messing that up means I won't be bothered with the pleasures of baggage collection and customs.

As soon as I saw the ground tackle I sensed Problems. Polypropolene line, old and thin, and a Danforth smaller than what I used to use on the 12' fishing dinghy. No chain. Hmmmm. I mentioned my misgivings and was reassured she'll be right mate. Ok, your boat, skipper. We were anchored a couple of km's north of Tangalooma wrecks, a short swim from shore after offloading our gear. There used to be a whaling station here, and the great-grandchildren of the sharks that used to eat the whale carcasses still hang about this place hoping for something tasty.

We set up camp, enjoyed dinner and fermented beverages around the campfire and watched the sunset. At some point after turning in the wind backed full around to west and increased to gentle gale strength. At about 1am I was awoken in my hammock with the news "Stef, the boat's on the beach." Sure enough, we found the vessel frolicking in the beachbreak, and since the tide was nearing peak we got her off again.

Since the, er, "bower anchor" was now independent, we used what was left of the poly line and a reef grapnel (that I thought would be a neat addition in my fishing tackle box) to re-anchor the boat. At some point I suggested it might be better we struck camp and headed home regardless of our lack of nav lights, since re-anchoring with the glorified fishhook was not likely to be better than the previous system, but it's impossible to sway an optimist and the skipper is always boss. I bravely volunteered to be first to swim back to shore, figuring if the local finned fauna was hungry it was best not to be tail-end Charlie. Nevertheless, I made good time to the beach and it turned out the sharks were somewhere else or had already eaten their fill of other idiots. Back in the hammock with salt and sand for company, and no more fermented beverages dagnabbit.

Morning dawned and found our brave ship back on the beach (probably not long after we regained it, and possibly before we'd retired, tired). This time there was enough dry sand between hull and water to discourage any attempts at shoving off (no backhoe in the camping gear), so we visited some local friends while we waited for water. Eventually we loaded our gear back aboard and regained the mainland, and it wasn't mentioned again.

Notes to self: inspect vessel and skipper before leaving safety, else don't go. Also, rum is more compact than beer, never get caught out shivering wet and sandy on a deserted beach at unGodly hours without it again. Finally, strive to have Aussies about you in a pickle, even if they caused said pickle; they're near unflappable and just get on with getting back out of trouble.
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Old 27-07-2014, 12:27   #2
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

What, am I the only one to have had a sub-optimal anchoring experience? C'mon, dare to come out from behind your buckets and let us know what you survived! (Posthumous entries also welcome, btw).
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Old 27-07-2014, 12:41   #3
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

OK - I'll play along - but my stories are nowhere near as good.

1st story: New boaters, less than 3 months in, on our way to Princess Louisa Inlet, we anchored in Garden Bay at Pender Harbour. Unknown to us, Garden Bay is well known for its soupy mud bottom. We happily dropped our very new, very shiny, stainless steel CQR. Sometime in the middle of the night our anchor alarm went off and we spent an anxious couple of hours in the dark and wind, with inadequate flashlights trying to figure out where we were, whether we had really dragged and what to do about it.

2nd story: This spring, on our way to Alaska, we pulled into Lowe Inlet and directly up in front of the lovely waterfall. This time we dropped our no longer shiny Sarca right in front of the waterfall in 4 knots of current at 30 feet of depth. Two days later we were in over 80 feet of water and a lot further away from the waterfall with every inch of chain we owned out. Next time we'll go a little off to one or the other sides.

3rd story: Crossing Dixon Entrance on the way home from Alaska. We got the living *^#&% kicked out of us and finally limped into Brundige Inlet on Dundas Island. Then we spent well over the next hour laboriously dragging the tangled chain out of the locker a couple of feet at a time. I've never seen such a mess and the only way out of it was to drop all 550 feet and then retrieve it again.
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Old 27-07-2014, 12:47   #4
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

Thanks Bob...I guess it's a good thing to have no dramatic anchorings to speak of; hope it stays that way! The tangling of the rode due to boat motion is a new one to me, and something I'll be thinking about preventing. What is the shape of your chain locker? Imagine going through some rough weather and finding out your anchor is hopelessly tangled just when you need it most...
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Old 27-07-2014, 13:09   #5
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

in a sloopp in gom when i was cruising opb--he had 30 ft 3/8 chainand rest rode, and we had a 35 pound cqr for a 37 ft seidelmann.. yes we did -- right into the pilings of the lil church on the bay , in st petes vinoy basin.. whooot. just missed the reebar by 6 inches.. omy someone loved us that day......
i felt the boat drag before i could see it doing so...i was cooking dinner.... bubba was hiding. he smart
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Old 27-07-2014, 14:06   #6
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

Welcome back, Zeehag!

Long time no see.

*******

FWIW, we, too have had the chain tangle itself in the anchor locker. Jim installed a power down switch for the windlass, so it vigorously pulls the chain out. Chain tangles are worst on moonless rainy nights around 2 a.m. making tiny circles near the abovementioned Tangalooma wrecks, trying to get enough chain out to anchor. Phooey.

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Old 27-07-2014, 14:12   #7
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

In the summer of '72 Nancie and I anchored for an overnight up Dutchman's Creek a little south of the Cape Fear River, North Carolina. We were down from Maryland on our first cruise with our 30' Sparkman & Stephens with a fin keel. We were unaware of the huge tidal flow and eddies out of this creek that soon had us spun broadside to the current with our nylon rode wrapped on the fin keel. Unable to unwrap and hesitant to start our engine with the rode near the prop, I decided to catch the line where I could see it aiming upcurrent from behind the keel. I tried poking a small fender under the rode at this point with a half inch line attached. Just as I managed to work the line under the rode we heard a loud "pop" when our rode was cut by the fin keel. We were drifting fast and soon to be rounding the creek entrance and flowing with the ebb toward the Cape Fear River. I decided that this was the time to start the engine, but it only took two seconds for the spinning prop to catch the half inch line that remained from my earlier plan. We were new to the game and our only anchor was lost. With no power and a dark night with no wind and a swift current, we had some effect with the rudder, but few choices. Fortunately, we stuck on the edges of a couple of mud flats for some moments before the current pried us off again and we made VHF contact with some good people who helped us tie to some pilings. The next day, at slack current, I cut the line from the shaft and prop. We made many more mistakes that first crusie and some caused us great delays. We left the Potomac River SE of Washington DC on June 17th and we did not reach Florida until December 24th! One other anchoring attempt failed on the Georiga Coast inside Sapelo Island where we motored to a nice anchorage on the Duplin River. I put the engine in reverse at our chosen spot and the prop with shaft parted from our engine and shot out the stern. I broke off the end of a broom handle and shoved it in the hole.

Beginings like this gave us a great opportunity to improve!
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Old 27-07-2014, 15:38   #8
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

Our very first night out anchored in our very first keel boat nearly ended it all there. Firstly, we badly underestimated the speed of our 25 footer and arrived at the anchorage at around 11:30 at night in pitch darkness (Homestead Bay at St Bees island for those that know the area). With no working depth sounder, I used an ancient laptop running a DOS version of CMAP with some bootleg charts to anchor at the edge of the reef as the shelving of the channel we were in meant that this was necessary.

Come the morning, the wind had backed and we were now in a situation where the boat was bucking in short period 3 ft waves. To make matters worse, we were anchored on top of the reef in uncomfortably shallow water (you know, where the rocks below have a distinct brown colour) and our plough anchor was firmly stuck. Being naive we probably didn't realise how close to disaster we had come. With the help of a friendly local fisherman, we got the anchor up and discovered a whole bunch of empty mooring balls just around the corner in a rolly but otherwise protected bay where we moved to for breakfast.

In the same boat, we used to have constant problems with the nylon rode wrapping around the fin keel in some wind against current anchorages. Solved that problem eventually by moving to all chain.

And finally, when delivering our new to us boat back home in January this year, we decided to avoid bad weather by hiding up a mangrove creek. Now, everything I've read about mangrove creeks has drummed in how secure they are in bad weather. Unfortunately, those texts only subliminally suggest that the holding in these creeks is abysmal by discussing the tying of the boat to mangrove trees. So we get about 10 km's into this huge creek system in the Fitroy River delta. It's lovely and calm and after a bit of a search for a less than 10 m deep patch of water, I drop the anchor with plenty of scope. Reversing back, the boat doesn't as much as slow. Hmm, no worries it'll sink and set. Switch off the engine and go inside to fill out the logs. 5 minutes later, come back on deck and the rear of the boat is touching the mangrove branches on the bank. Thankfully, the banks of these creeks are so steep and the depth of water great enough that we didn't run aground (or feel it in the soft muck if we did). Quick start up and up anchor and then proceeded to find somewhere with at least some holding. During three or four days we were anchored in the creek, we nearly got blown up onto the bank again during a squall (and I should note that even in the tropics in summer, it is damned cold sitting in the cockpit in one's underpants at 6:30 in the morning during torrential rain and 50 kn winds!). After that experience we kept a squall watch and had the engine running well before time as other squalls hit.
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Old 27-07-2014, 16:19   #9
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

My wife put our anchor right in the center of a old sunken tire. (what are the chances?) Anchor was the best money could buy and the chain held just long enough to get dinner on the cockpit table. One of our guests casually mentioned she thought we were moving.
Not embarrassing in of of it self but I had removed the wheel to make more room for dinner in cockpit. Stupid indeed in windy conditions but what was most embarrassing in retrospect is that instead of clearing the dinner onto the deck in order to reinstall the wheel when I could have just immediately steered the boat which the auto helm unit and saved plenty of precious time and dinner
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Old 27-07-2014, 19:33   #10
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Lightbulb Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

In for a penny in for a pound as the saying goes.

One of our worst anchoring experiences happened in the pond at Cook Town North Queensland. There is not many anchoring spots on the town side so we were settled with several other boats evenly spaced in the pond. We had dinghied ashore to explore Cook' s Look and on returning from our walk Yaraandoo was facing the opposite way to the other anchored boats. There was quite a tidal race so we had to wait for slack tide. We could not solve the problem by turning on the engine as the anchor chain was between the prop and the skeg. It was not advisable to dive to clear the chain as we were in saltwater croc territory. So we piled all the spare chain on the foredeck, tied a rope to this pile and took the end of the rope into the dinghy. As the pile of chain was dropped from the foredeck the crew in the dinghy pulled on the rope attached to the spare chain, in the opposite direction to where it was caught under the keel. The boat finally settled in the correct direction once all the extra chain had been retrieved.

When we got out to the reef and could dive in some clear (safe) water, we discovered the chain had sawn a slot in the keel for a couple of inches and had to be fixed with underwater bog until we next hauled.

This was simply a matter of wind over tide but in similar circumstances we tend to stay aboard when the tide turns.

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Old 27-07-2014, 19:53   #11
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

Ok, I have 3:
First in Adams Creek in the ICM north of Beaufort. I think it was teh CQR that we just lowered down to the shallow mud bottom. Woke up the next morning bobbing near shore - the soupy mud offered no holding.

Second - Wife like Johny Deep so we had to go see his island in the Bahamas. He does a nice job with it. We picked a little cove, dropped the anchor and I had to dingy to shore to see the sign on the beach. After I left, my wife sees someone come out of the trees and rake my footprints away. That night we did circles first one way and the the other as tthe passing current set up a strong eddy in the little cove, The anchor line was never tight and we just did circles. Very un-nerving but we stayed in the little cove.

Third, think it was Grand Cay in the northern Bahamas. Had the Delta down seemed good. No problems the first night even with a little thunderstrom.
Next night, was fairly calm and I woke up at 4 am to find that we had "plowed" all across the harbor and ended up right over a sunken barge, adjacent to a broken concrete pier and nestled up to a wood piling. Luckily, no damage. Next morning my friend snorkleed back to the original sight following the nice furrow in the mud.
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Old 27-07-2014, 20:02   #12
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

Lymeburners Cove - small pocket near Geelong, Aus. Our first 26' sloop with 35 lb CQR, slipped in hoping for a quiet night in face of a 30 knot southerly. Dropped the hook and slipped backwards like it was not even there. Managed to slip a rope onto a bigger moored launch for the night. That bottom was the slimiest, slippery goo I have ever seen. The locals knew of course which was probably why there was lots of space.


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Old 27-07-2014, 20:29   #13
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

Quote:
Originally Posted by micah719 View Post
Thanks Bob...I guess it's a good thing to have no dramatic anchorings to speak of; hope it stays that way! The tangling of the rode due to boat motion is a new one to me, and something I'll be thinking about preventing. What is the shape of your chain locker? Imagine going through some rough weather and finding out your anchor is hopelessly tangled just when you need it most...
I agree - boring boating is the best kind.

We've been beat up before but never turned the chain pile. On this particular occasion we were beating into square faced waves and falling off them. I think the combination of falling off and turning slightly each time just happened to be right to get the pile moving. Our locker is pretty standard I think. We don't have the option of powering out but it sure would have been nice that night although I'm not sure that would have worked either. I had to literally untie some portions of the chain.

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Old 28-07-2014, 01:24   #14
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

It was on a mooring. A big NW blow while I was living aboard. I had to work the next day, the dinghy lived astern on two painters, but a good white squall flipped it. I lost one oar so decided at 11 oclock at night with 50 odd knots that I would chase it down for some heavy weather manuvering practise (stupid idea..) I dropped the mooring and quickly recovered the oar, then spent the next hour trying to pickup the mooring. The bow just kept blowing off to quickly.
Eventually I decided to drift down on it, and got it fast. Unfortunatly the boat rode over it and the damned thing got caught between the keel and the rudder effectively mooring us by the stern. Waves where pounding the stern and flooding the cockpit and the dingy was trying to take out the self steering. I hung the dinghy off the bow closed the cabin door to stop the spray soaking below, dropped the swim ladder and took a line from the bow, aft to a winch and then outside everything. Stripping off I swam out to the mooring bouy astern and made this line fast. I was then able to cut the original line and she swung head to wind, I winched her back up and collapsed shivering into bed. I felt ill the next day so didn't go to work... It was a good learning experiance, but poor seamanship. Collecting the oar was OK, but I should have put the dinghy on deck and then headed downwind to a secure anchorage. Better yet I should have had two sets of oars onboard and just left the damned thing.

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Old 28-07-2014, 06:44   #15
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Re: My Worst Anchoring Experience....

Returning from the Bahamas I anchored below one of the lift bridges in W. palm Beach. Anchor holding fine with a number of other cruisers under my stern and turned in on a quiet night for some needed rest. In those days I anchored with short chain and nylon rode and never had a worry in my 10 ton steel sloop.
But something was amiss at O:dark thirty that got me on deck. Before I was fully awake I could see that even with the now strongly running tide that my neighbor astern was driving straight at my stern and a heavy collision was immanent .But how could this be when there was no one on deck and no running lights showing? Furthermore as this boat was leaving a wake through the fast moving water so was his anchor line stretched out before him. ???? Huh?. No! That not it…..I'm dragging down on him!
The heavy collision got my neighbor up on deck in a hurry and in time to scream at me as I continued on downstream. Well at least the worst was over I thought, but no, my dragging danforth now slides up his rode and hooks onto his bowsprit as my nylon rode goes bar -taut after stretching to its limits so I am now anchored to him close enough to hear him repeatedly call me a"damn fool" in his best W. Texas accent. All he wanted was to be rid of me but could not release my anchor with all the tension on it. "Let out some scope so i can git rid of this f%$#&ng anchor you damn fool"; but I couldn't ,since my line was now a huge elastic band and any that I veered just shot out of my hand and remained taut.
Well he finally got my anchor free and I resumed my journey sternward through the anchorage as his curses became fainter but still loud enough to rouse the other crews to observe the fool sailing backwards in a strong tidal stream.

When I finally got my anchor back I had acquired fishing rod and reel with a huge tangle of line that somebody must have lost while fishing from that bridge, my anchor held well enough in it until the tide started running strongly.

To this day "damn fool" has remained one of my favorite expressions.

I have even learned to say it in a number of other languages.

………………………….Luv you all………………mike……………………………………………………………..
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