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Old 29-11-2009, 14:11   #1
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We Did It!

We finally left the dock behind and spent our first night at anchor. We'd practiced before but only stayed anchored for an hour or so on those occasions; this was the first (somewhat) real test.

We chose our spot carefully and seem to be very well-placed considering how crowded it is here. We put down two anchors (since that's how everyone else is anchored) with a scope of about 7:1, took our compass bearings and waited. Took compass bearings. Waited. Took compass bearings. Took compass bearings. Took compass bearings.

This is nerve-wracking!

Long story short, Andy went to bed and I discovered computer Mah Jongg and kept anchor watch all night, taking bearings every 15-20 minutes. It's one thing to visualize the 360° swing of all the boats, but to see it in action was both amazing and disconcerting! We never moved at all and in the 24 hours since we've been here we've swung in a complete circle (albeit with 5 knot winds and smooth waters). The real worry is Tuesday and Wednesday; they're forecasting choppy/rough inland waters and 25 knot winds from the South/Southeast - the ONLY direction to which we are completely exposed. So now we have questions:

1) Do you ever relax and become comfortable at anchor? Will we ever get to sleep at the same time again?

2) Our anchor lines did cross over - should we uncross them every time that happens or just wait for them to uncross themselves? I should mention we've got 15' of 3/8" chain and 200' of 5/8" line on each anchor.

3) Given that we don't have all-chain rode, if we DO both go to bed how will we know if our anchor does break out? Is there some way of knowing short of hitting something or someone? (God forbid)

4) Even though we've been swinging with all the boats around us, our rodes leave our bow at a far more gradual angle than the boats around us. We're not sure what that means. If our scope were drastically different from anyone else's, wouldn't there have been a problem by now?

5) What is the best advice you can offer us if we fail our first REAL anchoring test and break loose in the rough weather we've got coming this week? We plan on leaving the key in the ignition so it's ready to go, but should we just try letting out more scope? (Always the first option, but what if no one else does?) Should we just pull up and try to re-set the anchors? (Not my first choice given our experience level.) Any thoughts?

Also, I might as well take the opportunity to show off our new anchor platform; when we bought her there was just a Danforth mounted on the bow rail. It might not look like much, but we're pretty happy with how it came out! And it was all done with a jigsaw, mouse sander and 10 coats of varnish.


Thank you all so much for any experience you're willing to share!

Andy and Mara


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Old 29-11-2009, 14:20   #2
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1) Yes
2) I would
3) Anchor alarm on GPS ( It will falsely wake you up in a big swing but at least you get rest)

Whoops missed one
4a) Could be your keel acting differently in the current or just the way the breeze holds your hull..I would not worry about it.( your not sailing at anchor right?)
4) Yes you will have to reset or head out to sea...if its a short duration squall you can hold position with your motor in line with your rode until it passes then reset in calmer winds but only if you totally trust your engine.

OH Ya...Nice job..
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Old 29-11-2009, 14:56   #3
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Originally Posted by Andy and Mara View Post

Do you ever relax and become comfortable at anchor? Will we ever get to sleep at the same time again?

Yes, but it takes a bit of time. You have to go through a few fronts or bad squalls to gain confidence in your anchors and anchoring technique. Eventually you'll sleep through anything, and that's not a good thing.
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Old 29-11-2009, 15:35   #4
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The only time I've ever dragged, I woke up to the sound of my dink banging against the hull. The only way this will happen is if the boat is sideways and drifting down faster than the dink. The dink is secured to my stern on a painter. After about the 3rd bump I jumped up, and was on deck in a flash. Sure enough the boat was dragging.

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Old 29-11-2009, 15:57   #5
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We have a chartplotter and a backup handheld GPS. We set the anchor alarms on them both. The chartplotter is on the binnacle right outside our aft cabin window and the handheld comes into the aft cabin with us. This has never failed to wake us when necessary. Luckily, so far, the wakey-wakeys have been for wind shifts not dragging.

You have a nice looking Delta there which is what we use and which has never failed us. But we are adding a 44 lb Manson Supreme this year. I would get more chain as well, we have 75'.
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Old 29-11-2009, 16:37   #6
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Quote:
1) Do you ever relax and become comfortable at anchor? Will we ever get to sleep at the same time again?
Yes, as experience builds, so does your trust in what you're doing. But I always get up a couple of times during the night to check everything, anyway, and I don't think that will ever change. It will get better.
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2) Our anchor lines did cross over - should we uncross them every time that happens or just wait for them to uncross themselves?
Little messes are easier to straighten out than big ones. A stitch in time, and all that. If you must go forward to work your lines in snotty weather, that will be an added complication.
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3) Given that we don't have all-chain rode, if we DO both go to bed how will we know if our anchor does break out? Is there some way of knowing short of hitting something or someone? (God forbid)
Two anchors breaking out is very unlikely; both dragging is conceivable, but still unlikely (more likely for the CQR than that nice Spade-y anchor). Best way I know is to set the anchor watch function on a GPS. Set the circle for a bit bigger than twice size of your swing circle. That way, just doing a 180 overnight won't set it off. You may also have an alarm on your depth sounder that is good for onshore wind conditions: calculate the shallowest depth that tide and an onshore breeze will produce overnight, then set it for a bit less than that. Of course, you want some time to react if it screams, so anchoring out a bit more is good.
Quote:
4) Even though we've been swinging with all the boats around us, our rodes leave our bow at a far more gradual angle than the boats around us. We're not sure what that means. If our scope were drastically different from anyone else's, wouldn't there have been a problem by now?
As long as your circle doesn't overlap their circles, you could have paid out 10:1 and not come into conflict with anyone else. If they are using all chain, their scope could be justifiably shorter than yours; if they're using tackle like yours, it's likely they are short-scoped. A lot of folks lie to short scope for reason's I don't understand. I'm typically the longest-scoped yacht in the cove, trying to establish/maintain 7:1.
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5) What is the best advice you can offer us if we fail our first REAL anchoring test and break loose in the rough weather we've got coming this week?
You have two bow anchors out, and they show every sign of being well-set. You have paid out adequate scope, while most around you haven't. From your description, you are the least likely boat to drag. You won't fail. But you may feel better by going topside and checking it occasionally, or even trading off on anchor watch so that you both can get some good sleep, knowing the other person is on watch.
Quote:
We plan on leaving the key in the ignition so it's ready to go, but should we just try letting out more scope? (Always the first option, but what if no one else does?) Should we just pull up and try to re-set the anchors? (Not my first choice given our experience level.) Any thoughts?
It would be better to move off, reset, and pay out long scope beforehand, if you're really worried. But again, you have two anchors out, set well, with adequate scope, so I can't imagine it being necessary.
Quote:
Also, I might as well take the opportunity to show off our new anchor platform; when we bought her there was just a Danforth mounted on the bow rail. It might not look like much, but we're pretty happy with how it came out! And it was all done with a jigsaw, mouse sander and 10 coats of varnish.
That's nice work.

Jeff
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Old 29-11-2009, 21:52   #7
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Try 1 rode with 2 anchors. Connect the second anchor to the first with 20 feet or so of chain. If the first anchor breaks loose the second will hold and facilltate the first one resetting with little or no drag. And no lines to untangle.
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Old 29-11-2009, 22:11   #8
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Looks like you're doing all the right things. I'd suggest getting more chain to hold the shank of the anchor parallel to the sea bed no matter what the sea state.

Now all that you need worry about is the boats around you dragging.
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Old 29-11-2009, 22:28   #9
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GPS anchor alarm, as mentioned above, gives a HUGE relief factor.
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Old 29-11-2009, 22:43   #10
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Yes, i'm quite relaxed when anchored but i do and check everthing from A-Z. I always put fenders. Sometimes i dive a bit to check how did the anchor grab the bottom. i always check/ secure the ancor by using the reverse and always drop the anchor with the bow towards the wind. I do bearings for first 30min than 1x per hour, 2x per night. with 2 anchors in the water you are very very OK. choose right anchor and give enough rope.

oldschool mechanics would say: "you never leave your keys in the ignition" in case there's somthing wrong with the key switch it drains the battery.
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Old 29-11-2009, 23:12   #11
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If that wind-shift is really gonna happen you will have to move to another anchorage.

Also, we have a "99% rule" : in 99% of all cases, use one anchor only. If you drag with one anchor, buy a bigger anchor. The 1% left is for cases like Bahamian moor, stern-to or hurricanes. One anchor means no wraps, no one anchor fouling the other plus the option to leave quickly when needed. Doing what the others do with anchoring isn't a good strategy because most do it wrong.

Good sleep means big anchor, and testing it with the engine in reverse. Just try to pull it out. If it holds, you know what it will at least take to start dragging. Don't pull too hard to quick after anchoring... the anchor needs to settle. Pull at half revs for 5 minutes or so (must hold) while setting the anchor.

Edit: I agree with the other poster that you need more chain.

ciao!
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Old 29-11-2009, 23:16   #12
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Congrats! way to get out there and do it. Sorry about the sleepless night, but at least you honed your majhong skills. You will grow to have a little more confidence in your anchor. Sometimes too much confidence! Anchor alarms are nice but for those of us on a tight budget they can be a luxury.
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Old 30-11-2009, 00:07   #13
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One thing is for sure, you'll never break your anchor rode, that's a good thing.

Another good thing is that you are worried so seem to be going about things right. Start large and as confidence grows you'll be fine. Like Jedi said, soon it'll be one anchor only.

The longer you are aboard you will get very used to the boats differing motions when certain things are happening. The motion of the boat usually changes if you lose or the anchor starts dragging. In time your body will alert you to something not quite right. Along with that is the noise, which also often changes. Again over time you'll start to notice these things.

All just part of the learning experience, which sadly isn't something that you can read much about or pick up over night.

Some good answers in this thread already. Nice work team.
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Old 30-11-2009, 01:13   #14
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I ALWAYS checked my anchor if possible by diving on it. I want to KNOW it is set properly and I'm not going to move. I have just sailed 13,500 miles in the last 20 months and my anchored dragged only twice in that time but I did set and reset it numerous times till I was happy with how it was set. I always put out as much scope as I could depending on room in the anchorage and I NEVER cared how others anchored....I did what was right for MY boat in the circumstances of where I was.....cardinal rule...KNOW THY BOAT!

Good luck with it....with more experience comes more confidence and there is an amazing world to be seen from on a boat!!!
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Old 30-11-2009, 01:40   #15
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Sounds like you're doing the right thing. Couple of thoughts

(i) agree wth the need for more chain, and wonder why two anchors. Lots of extra effort and worry.
(ii) is there somewhere you can move to which is less exposed for the weather coming in? If not, probably not a problem, but chop can cause your bows to pitch and that can have a levering effect on your anchor, so keep an eye on that. What is your plan - eg out to sea or reanchor. If you think that through it will help.
(iii) GPS alarms are wonderfully cheering. We set it at slightly less than 2x scope so we will wake on the tide or other swing (tide not an issue while in the Med) and check everything is ok
(iv) have your fenders ready to go in case someone drags on you.

You do sleep in the end, most of the time. Our last anchorage of 2009 was unbelievably uncomfortable with swell so we didn't sleep very well but, hey! It was really pretty and the anchor didn't move.
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