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Old 08-10-2013, 05:53   #1
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Does constant anchoring wear you down?

A-ha me hearties, pin back yer lug-holes and quiet them parrots. We have tales to tell.

I know everyone is different so any thoughts may help me or others in the coming years.

This cruising year we anchored about 98% of the time. We were getting used to anchoring and the advantages it could bring. We were staying in the most beautiful out of the way places sometimes not accessible by land and it was not costing us a penny. The disadvantages were that we had to constantly watch our power consumption and the level of the batteries. We also had to monitor the fresh water we were using.

For me sleep didn't come quiet as easy knowing that anchors do come out and if it did we may find ourselves on a beach or battered on rocks. With so many boats anchored together, often only a few meters apart, there was the constant worry of swinging into one of them during the night. I found myself waking with wind shifts and sea changes but I thought that would change as I gained more faith in our ground tackle and our ability to dig it in well.

I also found that I was loathed to leave the boat and explore our surroundings in anything but the most benign conditions. (Luckily my wife made me go ashore everywhere as I would have been more than happy to stay on the boat and I would have missed so much). When we did go I always had the weather, swell and other considerations in the back of my mind. It really was hard to relax.

To be honest the fears never did completely subside and over the year this lack of proper sleep and constantly making sure we were somewhere safe in the weather conditions really wore me down mentally and physically.

Now we are in our winter berth it is only now I realise just how much it did take out of me. I was totally drained but on the other hand we would never have been able to continue financially if we had gone in marinas and we would have missed some amazing places.

So how do you learn to relax being constantly at anchor? I know I worry too much but then again we have come through yet another year and several thousand miles safely.

Tales of our anchoring and places we have visited are being updated on our blog at Home Cygnus III Cygnus III.
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:03   #2
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

A good topic.

I spent my first decade of cruising lying to an abominable (and misnamed) CQR anchor, so my introduction to anchoring was by way of complete insecurity, knowing that if the wind were to blow up during the night, we would likely drag. I didn't know there was any other way to do it, so I got used to sleeping with one eye open and never, but never leaving the boat if there were the slightest chance of any weather blowing up.

Then I discovered other anchors. I have another decade of cruising on Spades, a Rocna, and a Delta, and never dragged one single time with any of them, in all kinds of conditions. A revolution. I did drag with a couple of times with fake Bruce anchors on two different charter boats, but never on my own boats once I got rid of the hideous CQR.

But the habit of sleeping with one eye open really dies hard. I've gotten a little better in the last couple of years, and sometimes when I really need sleep I just take a sleeping pill and conk out.

I usually don't leave the boat even for an hour without leaving someone behind on anchor watch, but that's probably not really necessary. With really good ground tackle and technique built over years of experience, you start to have enough data points to know that your boat is really not going to drag during a few hours on a shoreside expedition (you will laugh at me, but I leave the VHF on when I leave, so that I can ping the boat with a DSC position request from my DSC handheld to verify that she's still there -- ridiculous, I know, but makes me feel better ). And if it does, for God's sake, you have insurance, after all -- so relax already -- I keep telling myself


So I hear you, brother! All I can say is perfect your anchoring technique, and try to train yourself to relax. It's a long, long process, judging from my experience
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:11   #3
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
A good topic.

during a few hours on a shoreside expedition (you will laugh at me, but I leave the VHF on when I leave, so that I can ping the boat with a DSC position request from my DSC handheld to verify that she's still there -- ridiculous, I know, but makes me feel better ). And if it does, for God's sake, you have insurance, after all -- so relax already -- I keep telling myself


So I hear you, brother! All I can say is perfect your anchoring technique, and try to train yourself to relax. It's a long, long process, judging from my experience
Thank you for that reply.. glad I am not the only one.. just out of interest if you send a position request does there have to be someone on the boat to answer it?
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:13   #4
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

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Originally Posted by Nostrodamus View Post
Thank you for that reply.. glad I am not the only one.. just out of interest if you send a position request does there have to be someone on the boat to answer it?
Nope. You configure your radio to automatically accept and respond to position requests, and it will do so.

I have my handheld configured the same way, so that if I am on the mother ship, and others are out in the dinghy, I can ping them and see where they are.

The non-emergency functions of DSC are absolutely terrific and I am amazed that almost no one uses them. I commend them to you.

If you are broadcasting AIS you can probably use a smartphone to see where your boat is in real time, using one of the various websites that publish live AIS information.
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:16   #5
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The mental processes that create worry are ingrained into us long before we are financially able to cruise. Some people just are not cut out to "not worry". I think stress reduction is something you can learn but it isn't easy. Insurance is one way to reduce stress but it costs money which may be a bigger worry.

I ask myself whether I have done everything I know to properly secure the boat. I actually run through a checklist like an airplane pilot does to be sure. Then if I am still worried it must be about things over which I have no control. I reason with myself that worrying about those things is fruitless. This is something I have done my whole adult life. By the time we are at a stage in our lives where cruising is an option we either have formed stress coping mechanisms or we are mentally exhausting ourselves.

I don't wish to depress you further but there is no such thing as a risk free life. That's a good thing because such a life would not be worth much anyway. As you experienced this season, the rewards that come with some risk are indeed wonderful. Only you can answer "was it worth it?"
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:18   #6
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

I always just drop another anchor if in question, obviously of different make then the other, two hooks are better then one. Leaves me in peace.
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:19   #7
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

I might add that we spent the better part of month at anchor this past summer on our summer cruise, and I made a lot of progress with my anchor-o-phobia mental disease.

The anchoring went really, really well this year -- not the slightest problem anywhere, perfect spot everytime, anchor set first time every time, smooth as silk. I was able to calm myself down quite a bit and even managed to get some good sleep without chemical aids.

If you work on it hard enough, it seems to gradually go away.

I think anchor-o-phobia is a very common disease among cruisers, so you are not alone!

Good luck!
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:28   #8
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

I'm almost afraid this might bring me bad luck but I sleep quite nicely at anchor unless its really blowing hard. Been doing this for about 8 years in total although not in one continuous run.
I used to be able to apply just the right amount of tension to the mainsheet so that winds over 20 knots would start to make it howl a little and that woke me up right away but it doesn't work on our current boat.
I make sure the anchor is properly set and can take the strain of 2500rpm in reverse, put on a good long snubber and note my bearing to land structures and lights at night so if woken up I can do a quick confirmation that I am where I'm supposed to be. I try to anchor where I can escape the anchorage if I have to. My mind plays the odd's as I have never drug at anchor I expect I won't but I know there is always a first time.
I didn't use to be this way when I first started cruising, like others I did not sleep well but over the years I have started to sleep better on the boat than I do on land....just not long enough these days, LOL.
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:28   #9
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

I think that it just comes with time. Since you have a very nice boat I imagine you did not cut corners with your ground tackle. This helps a lot. I find that it builds confidence to see how buried the anchor is when I dive on it or when it is time to lift the anchor. Over the last few years I have gotten more comfortable which is good when we anchored in places like Easter Island where you basically were in the open ocean and nod day we had 1+ m swells in the 'anchorage'. It would be a shame not to feel comfortable to ashore in a place like that.

At the same time there are reasons to worry. In general the further I am from casual cruisers and charterers the happier I am since I am more concerned about other boats dragging into me rather than the reverse (lots of evidence over 40 years). I find I do sleep differently on the boat than at home, as does my wife. At home she sleeps like she is dead but on the boat we both wake when the motion or sound changes.
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:29   #10
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

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I always just drop another anchor if in question, obviously of different make then the other, two hooks are better then one. Leaves me in peace.
We were in anchorages which were very crowded and often you would find yourself swinging within meters of another boat.
We anchored next to one boat who's owner had left it for several days. It caused all sorts of problems as it swung totally differently to all the other boats causing thim to re anchor.. we later found he had put out two anchors...
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:34   #11
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

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Nope. You configure your radio to automatically accept and respond to position requests, and it will do so.

I have my handheld configured the same way, so that if I am on the mother ship, and others are out in the dinghy, I can ping them and see where they are.

The non-emergency functions of DSC are absolutely terrific and I am amazed that almost no one uses them. I commend them to you.

If you are broadcasting AIS you can probably use a smartphone to see where your boat is in real time, using one of the various websites that publish live AIS information.
Darn, ... that means another 8 hours playing with buttons and menu's until I can find a way of doing it... then again I could read the manual but that is not a male way to do things!
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:35   #12
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

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Originally Posted by Nostrodamus View Post
We were in anchorages which were very crowded and often you would find yourself swinging within meters of another boat.
We anchored next to one boat who's owner had left it for several days. It caused all sorts of problems as it swung totally differently to all the other boats causing thim to re anchor.. we later found he had put out two anchors...
I also completely try to avoid the crowds...but understand you delima in busy anchors. We had the same trouble in the UK at one of those pay me 10 pounds to use our sheltered anchorage. Blody horrible and slept terrible the entire night having to make my chain the length to accompany the swing of other boats and so on.....never staying at one of those places again if I can help myself.

Although I bet the guy who left his boat for a few days felt secure with his anchorage when he left.
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:40   #13
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

We have been at anchor for just over 2000 nights in the last 6 years .

I would not go into a marina if you paid me LOL (apart from antifouling). Swinging at anchor is just so dramatically different to being tied to shore. At anchor I have the sensation that the boat is my armchair and the anchorage my vast 'room'. In a marina I feel like I am living in a caravan park.

At anchor I also have ever changing multi-million dollar waterfront views. I am aware of every tiny shift in the breeze and change in wind strength. Most nights I am gently rocked to sleep. I have almost total privacy.

Gale force winds add a little necessary tension to life, it lifts me out of complacency. Too much of a good thing actually dulls off the experience. That contrast is needed.

I must admit though that the best improvement to this cruising lifestyle occurred when we upgraded our anchor. Sitting up during storms is one thing, but sitting up during frequent gales is a PITA.

We also have an anchor alarm on 24/7 regardless of wind strength giving added peace of mind. It is a low power draw unit next to the bed so that each time I roll over I can open one eye and take a quick reassuring glance at our swinging arc.

Also knowing the anchor is well set helps tremendously - I apply full revs in reverse for 10-20 sec and as soon as the engine is cut I am in the water for a snorkel to check the set. All possible care and precautions are taken.

Worrying about other boats is another matter. Luckily in the eastern Med we can easily find spots where we are alone at anchor even in summer during peak season. We have been known to set wind alarms in crowded anchorages when we have a poorly anchored boat ahead.

The boat is rarely left unattended, apart from during occasional dinners ashore. Even these are generally in sight of the boat though.

Yes, there are limitations, but I think the benefits dramatically outweigh these .
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:44   #14
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

relaxing at anchor is no easy task... one must be confident in skills as well as in the tackle chosen to be used.
yes confidence is everything.
i was using a system i was ssecure in using until i dragged one night in mazatlan... chain fell into a trough and i plowed the bay bottom farming a place to reset. ok.. being sola, i used fo9ne to calla friend who found me a pangero to help for one night for 400 pesos to help stand anchor watch=no sleep.
my secondary anchor was placed when i arrived at next destination. first month i was anchored with old system and was ok. went into marina for repairs and came back out using my bruce with chain. ok.. anchor upgrade number one--bottoms in mexico are perfect for bruce.

ok so what does this have to do with sleep?? getting there...be patient. stop growling....

while in la cruz de huanacaxtle, well known as a terrible anchorage as it is unprotected from anything whatsoever and is really choppy most of time, there were a few boats that dragged vs experienced chafe of rope rode and walkabout.
mine was not one of those. i was happy.
i did find the huge rock 2 1/2 ft below surface in the anchorage, however=no sleep, and a relocation.
ok... manual windlass is adequate for this....
zihuatenejo has a protected from winds (except from due south)anchorage with normal 1 -2 meter swell. not to bad, and lots better than la cruz de huanacaxtle. we anchored well and set her hard. no problem
as i have bruce in rocky bottoms i slept well. i had 160 ft down with rocks holding me well. even held thru the guy with rocna that failed for a change lol while anchoring and plowing up my chain..lol... his system fail was easy to spot, as he was trying to anchor ON a large rock. ok... no sweat.
when we pulled out, upping anchor was not too hard and my windlass worked kinda ok....got anchor up out of seafloor and found only one fluke was muddy. interesting.....
barra de navidad is reputed to be a poor holding area. ok. i found , as did many others, that use of a bruce and looooong chain in this shallow muckand rocks is a wonderful idea. bruce finds rock and settles in. i can sleep well knowing i have a rock with which to hold my bruce anchor and too much chain out. i have watched enough folks drag and separate from bottom i try to make sure i am over anchored. then i sleep.
wind picks up .
weather makes my boat song sound different-- i am awake.
in zihuat i had a plastic tarp mounted low over my forward hatch to keep sun off deck and heat less in house. 0100-ish i was awakened by the soft sound of that tarp being moved by very slight movement of air from wrong direction.
ok inspection time for boat deck..out and up i go....
i saw an active tormenta/tboomer forming off shore and not apparently moving but growing...ok.....coming towards me.
wind picks up as i am inspecting for potential storm approachment....let out 20 ft more chain, as i only had 120 ft down when i first arrived. december storms are not usual nor are they unexpected in southwest mexico coast....
i finished my rounds just as first drops of rain started....and the light show was incredible...storm lasted less than 2 hours and we had over 4 inches rainfall in my dinghy. awesome. wind--YES...but my shiplet held fast...awesome work, brucie..loving it..... so i was able to sleep in zihuat because i held fast thru an unexpected and sudden onset tormenta...
i watched as catamaran dragged anchor in barra in only 14 kts winds, watched as sailboats were lost in la cruz--that was due to mixed rode only....rope there will chafe apart within a weeks time about 5 ft from splice to chain. and my own disastrous(almost) lol dragging of anchor in 30 kt winds in mazatlan ....


i watched as i have only rowing dink which is not enough to save someone elses boat much less my own. i do use radio to alert others.


so...knowing what you have on seafloor is important and so is impending weather and your ability to awaken due to any changes in environment --all affect sleep .
some folks donot adapt well, others are used to the interruption in sleep patterns due to career choices-.-those of us who have had to work all night seem to have the ability to catnap for 15 or so minutes without problem nor interruption in necessary sleeping.

yes anchoring out is a wear on your sleep habits, unless you are able to modify your sleep needs than you wont enjoy the lack of sleep.i never sleep during storms, as anyhting is able to happen immediately.
i donot sleep when i have just recently anchored in a new place as i am still on anchor watch, which i do with my own eyeballs, thankyou.
even in marina situations i do not sleep well at all during storms as the marina is not a trusted anchor system..anything can happen. i have seen dock cleats break away.
i have seen moorings fail.
i have seen boat parts fail causing a breakaway situation.
i have seen much and tried to prevent these things from happening to my own boat.
so far,so good. keep knocking that wood....
the only time i find i have excellent sleep is on clear nights when there is no wind..oops i forgot the mosquitos...lol...so clear nights without wind are out.,.lol

the night after i placed skeeter netting screens on my boat i slept like a brick.
most of us find that sleep deprivation is directly related to the trust we have in our boats systems. and mommy nature who is a really mean momma sometimes. .

anchoring out is not necessarily a wonderful nights sleep.
anchoring out is also not necessarily a bad nights sleep, either--just depends on how much you trust your tackle. and the weather and your own responses/reactions to that weather and its changes
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:59   #15
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Re: Does constant anchoring wear you down?

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A good topic.

I spent my first decade of cruising lying to an abominable (and misnamed) CQR anchor, so my introduction to anchoring was by way of complete insecurity, knowing that if the wind were to blow up during the night, we would likely drag. I didn't know there was any other way to do it, so I got used to sleeping with one eye open and never, but never leaving the boat if there were the slightest chance of any weather blowing up.

Then I discovered other anchors. I have another decade of cruising on Spades, a Rocna, and a Delta, and never dragged one single time with any of them, in all kinds of conditions. A revolution. I did drag with a couple of times with fake Bruce anchors on two different charter boats, but never on my own boats once I got rid of the hideous CQR.

But the habit of sleeping with one eye open really dies hard. I've gotten a little better in the last couple of years, and sometimes when I really need sleep I just take a sleeping pill and conk out.

I usually don't leave the boat even for an hour without leaving someone behind on anchor watch, but that's probably not really necessary. With really good ground tackle and technique built over years of experience, you start to have enough data points to know that your boat is really not going to drag during a few hours on a shoreside expedition (you will laugh at me, but I leave the VHF on when I leave, so that I can ping the boat with a DSC position request from my DSC handheld to verify that she's still there -- ridiculous, I know, but makes me feel better ). And if it does, for God's sake, you have insurance, after all -- so relax already -- I keep telling myself


So I hear you, brother! All I can say is perfect your anchoring technique, and try to train yourself to relax. It's a long, long process, judging from my experience
I could have written the above myself as my experience exactly mirrors that of Dockhead. We swing on a 110# Spade now and keep the 75# CQR as ballast. Even in Alaska this summer with fierce winds, 25 foot tides and man-eating bears ashore gathering on the beach at night just waiting for the anchor to drag we slept like babies.

Cheers.

Dhillen
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