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Old 30-01-2011, 12:26   #1
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We Won't Need that ( Anchor ) !

So there we were...a beautiful Saturday afternoon. A group of guys on my boat left Port Townsend for a day in Admiralty Bay to end at Fort Flagler mooring field to meet families for camping. Its my boat and the first group to sail with me. ONe experienced crewman sees my anchor lashed to the pulpit without a chain attached and asks if I want to secure the chain to it. "No", we wont need that. So we cast off and things went great, stiff breeze, sun, good crew and no worries in sight. After a few hours of tacking back and forth we headed for the channel between Marrowstone Is and Indian Is. This is a very narrow, windy, shallow and fast flowing channel. The entrance is clearly marked with buoys and charts clearly indicate that outside the channel it's only a few feet deep.

In previous passages I have enjoyed the challenge and impending doom of sailing my ketch through this maze without engine power, no margin for error and my wife reading off the depth sounder as we go, practically feeling our way thru. So, naturally, I felt confident.

As we sailed up to the channel buoy I turned into the wind and commanded to drop sail. I didn't want to risk my crew by grandstanding the channel so decided to motor. My wife was on-board and I told her to flip the battery switch to 'start'. She yells, 'Mark! Its broken!'. As the boat sat motionless and inevitably beginning to drift toward the channel marker and into a grounding condition, I jumped below to see for myself. Sure enough, our portable Honda generator had tipped over during a heel and snapped the battery switch in the OFF position.

I informed the crew to immediately raise the jib and main and get us moving away from our direction of drift. Thankfully I had a couple of experienced sailors on board and they did superbly while I moved the companionway, raised the sole, grabbed a wrench and disconnected the starter cable from the main switch and hotwired the cable to the battery while smashing the throttle cable with my foot. It started after an agonizing eternity!

I jumped up to cockpit and got engine and prop controlled, told crew to leave the sails up as we headed into the channel. We sailed through the channel which was gratifying but we also left the engine running.

I guess I'll go shackle up my anchor and chain now. Then I'll write some more blunders.
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Old 30-01-2011, 12:34   #2
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The Honda gasoline generator was stored below?
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Old 30-01-2011, 12:48   #3
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Yeah, I wondered about that. Mine will go in a vented box on deck, because I think of it in the same sense as a propane tank.

I also can't see a reason for a boat to leave the dock without the chain on because poop happens and one of the best reasons to have an anchor is to just stop and think how to solve a problem, even if it's in the middle of a channel. If you are in distress or danger, it's better to just drop it, drag and stop until you can have an organized response to whatever is screwing up.

But that's neither here nor there. Glad you got the fix happening, even if it involved a bit of an Asian flammables safety exercise.
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Old 30-01-2011, 13:46   #4
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A wonderful story, excellently told!
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Old 30-01-2011, 14:04   #5
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Great story! That's one mistake you won't make again!

Thanks for sharing!

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Old 31-01-2011, 06:16   #6
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Good Story. Other than the gas below issue, I would also suggest keeping a sail up. I always have my main and/or headsail up when entering or leaving a harbor weather permitting. I figure I have two sources of power, why not have them both should one fail. I've had to abort a departure only once at the mouth of an inlet due to a fouled prop, thank God I had my main up. Just a quick turn and I had wind to safely carry me to calm water. Plus, I find it much easier to raise the main in calm water than to do it out on a bumpy ocean.
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Old 31-01-2011, 07:20   #7
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"Main up under motor" (MUUM? handy acronym!) is a good idea given that people are constantly forgetting to open the seacock or are sucking in a plastic bag or have some oil pump failure, or a corroded wire melts, and that all this stuff happens in the first 10 minutes of engine running.

It's cheap insurance and I would always rather sail away from the immediate problem than try to drop anchor in a hurry (but I would have that ready, too!)
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Old 31-01-2011, 17:40   #8
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There have been a couple of times I was exceeding glad to be able to drop anchor in a hurry and fix a problem. I sympathize.

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Old 01-02-2011, 14:51   #9
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Lucky escape, but I can't believe no one has mentioned the obvious.

Start the engine well before you need it, and certainly before you drop the sails.

Makes life interesting though
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Old 01-02-2011, 18:56   #10
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Where was backup anchor? I always carry one. One time going camping at barrier island went to drop anchor, opened locker and... it was not there. quick..grab back up and toss. Scarry for a minute. Latter found out one of my buddies had borrowed mine and forget to tell me. What r friends 4 !
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Old 01-02-2011, 19:16   #11
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I think we all need a little scare like that every few years to remind us that we've gotten too comfortable getting boats from Point A to Point B.

Having a gas generator below is the first no-no, but storing it in such a way that it can tip over is certainly the second.
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Old 01-02-2011, 19:21   #12
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Standard on Orca when not on passage:

1. Main anchor (Rocna) always rigged and ready to drop within seconds. Pull one pin, give it a shove and away it runs.
2. Back-up CQR always rigged in fore locker. 15 seconds to pull out, cleat the bitter end, and get in the water.
3. Danforth always rigged in the cockpit locker (and not covered up by stuff!). 10 seconds to get out, cleat off and in the water.

That wasn't set up that way, at first. It took a major scare (fortunately only requiring a bit of minor fiberglass repair) before doing it that way!

Live and learn.

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Old 01-02-2011, 19:31   #13
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I've seen several boats going to Ft Flagler stopping to watch the water flow til tide change, never chanced it myself, passage changes about 230degrees in a 1/2 mile and it's usually at the end of a long day. Great story and glad it turned out well.
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Old 01-02-2011, 20:15   #14
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Great story with a clear moral. Thanks for being man enough to swallow your pride and share it with us.
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Old 14-02-2011, 15:19   #15
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Thank you for sharing that it just reinforces what we sometimes take for granted, MURPHY'S LAW

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