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Old 18-07-2008, 21:42   #1
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First "cruise" anchor issues

This post really addresses three issues.

First, I am thinking of anchoring about here on my way from Pittsburg to the South Bay. Any locals have opinions on this?

Second, my current anchor line seems pretty flaky but I am not ready to spend a bunch of money and buy my full-on cruising tackle. With somebody on watch all night and in a fairly protected area- do you think I can get by? The current line isn't frayed or anything- just old and stiffish.

Third, I don't really know how to anchor yet- this trip is premature in that I am moving the boat so I can learn somewhere other than where it is. Well, that isn't the point but is the intended result. This trip is like a preliminary boot camp. Anyway, in water of that depth how much rode should I have out?

Books with most of these answers were ordered about two weeks ago and have started arriving- at a friend's house where I am moving the boat.

Oh, maybe if someone can help with this I can delete the previous 3 issues... How do you bend the space time continuum?

Jackson L.

"It is never too late to be who you might have been." -George Eliot
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Old 18-07-2008, 22:03   #2
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I do not appear to have an anchor light. In the short term could I just haul a white LED lantern or something up the mast?


"It is never too late to be who you might have been." -George Eliot
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Old 18-07-2008, 22:04   #3
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Aloha Jack,
Your anchor line to depth ratio should be 5 to 1. Measure from the stem of your boat to the bottom. If it is 10 feet then you'll need to let out 50 feet of line. If its 20 feet then you'll need to let out 100 feet of line. Before letting out your anchor line you should rig at least 30 feet of chain starting at the anchor and then add your line at the end of the chain. That helps keep the anchor shank more on the bottom instead of pointing upward toward your boat. Make certain you tie some wire or use electrical ties on your shackles to keep them from coming loose (that's called seizing).
Your boat should be nearly stopped when you let your anchor down. After it touches bottom then let out the anchor rode (line) little by little as your boat drifts back or with the current. Once you've reached the predetermined length then tie it off on a cleat and back down hard for a very short time or tug really hard on the line just to make certain the anchor is set. You will feel the line shake if it hasn't set properly. If it doesn't set the first time let out a little more line and try again to set it. If it doesn't work the second time then take it all in and try again because you might have snagged something.
Always tie the end of your anchor line somewhere on the boat. If you have it in an anchor locker make certain the end is tied before letting out the line. I've seen folks let out all their line and then the end goes over too. If it weren't so tragic it would be funny.
Have a happy cruise and ask more questions if you have them.
Kind regards,
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Old 19-07-2008, 03:29   #4
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Jack, you say you aren't ready to spend a bunch of money yet on 'full on cruising tackle'. Up to a point, fair enough, I don't know the area you're talking about but the anchor is a major safety item if you're going to use it. Maybe better to spend some money now and have a good nights' sleep en route?
I can't comment on American regs for anchor lights, but as long as you have an all round white light, even if it's hauled up a backstay, practically speaking you'll be OK.
With the previous caveat that I don't know the area you're talking about, I'd seriously suggest that if you're going to use a line/chain or all rope combination for the anchor I'd personally use a scope of 7:1. All chain I use 5:1.
As far as anchoring technique is concerned there are many ways to skin a cat, but, sorry John, I have to say tugging on the anchor line isn't one of them. I'm cruising full time (in Spain, Galicia, at the moment). The technique I use is to get the way off the boat, let out twice the depth initially to allow the anchor to 'bite', then pay out my 5:1 scope. THEN (because I don't want to wake up somewhere else) I go into reverse (about 1/4 power) to put some tension on the anchor chain & see what happens. If that's OK I go fully astern for about 20 seconds and if that holds then the chances are I'm going to have a peaceful nights sleep. I then come fairly slowly out of astern and then watch for a while. Take note of something on the shore, and look at your relationship to it (called a transit bearing, if you haven't come across the term before). Obviously, this may change a bit with tidal flow or windshifts, but basically this will tell you if you're dragging or not. John is correct, if you feel a vibration in the anchor rode it means it's probably dragging. Be prepared to re-anchor if you aren't certain if the anchor is set or not, don't 'hope for the best'. If this all seems a bit of bother, remember that you want to sleep at night without worrying too much about the anchor. Why would you want to have somebody on watch all night unless the conditions are bad? If you get into the habit of doing things thoroughly now, before you start cruising properly, then you won't have to unlearn bad habits later. By 'cruising properly' I don't mean full time or even going long distances, I mean staying overnight on your boat, laying at anchor as opposed to being in a marina.
Personally, I've found rum 'bends the space/time continium', but I couldn't possibly suggest that you drink alcohol, now could I
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Old 19-07-2008, 05:33   #5
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A look at the chart shows an oil refinery with a dock. It means the anchorage may have barges or tankers waiting to go to the dock. We have one near us so it could be a little bit of an issue if you get between a few and they decide to leave in the morning. They don't go around small boats easily and you owe them the right of way in all situations. They might come at night but probably not. They do run the generator all night so being close to that dock would not be advised. Barges do move on the weekend even if the dock is not in operation. Same goes for tankers. That is the problem with "general anchorages" in urban areas. They attract all types of commercial boats and barges. They have to go where they are allowed to be.

Old and stiffish isn't a good description. Some technical details would help. How big is the boat and how long and thick is the line? What type of anchor do your have and how big is it? How is it attached? If the wind blows you probably want to have 70 feet of line available and even a short section of chain is better than none. One boat length of chain is good and all chain is best.

The process used by Trout bridge is more what I use. A pull on the rode with the engine is more than you can do with your arms and far less than a stiff breeze will exert. Since this is an anchorage used by commercial boats the bottom can be chewed up so setting the anchor may take a few tries. If it does not set then start all over again. Fooling around in a place where it won't set might drift you into trouble by the time it is set. It's easy to focus on the anchor and not where the boat is or is headed. Currents might swing you 180 degrees overnight. Allow room for that. A change in wind direction would be expected as well. If set properly you should handle that without additional effort but account for room to do that.

From the chart it looks like you can anchor once you get to 14 ft of water so getting to about 8 ft looks good. That would leave room toward the shore as well as keep you away from shipping lanes.
Paul Blais
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37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 19-07-2008, 06:43   #6
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Thanks guys.

My thought on buying now vs. later is that this is just one night, I will have a buddy with me, and we will both be plenty excited. Somebody being up on watch won't be a big burden and then I can take my time and make sure I buy the right gear.

I know this is a *bad* assumption but, again, given the circumstances of this particular trip I wasn't going to worry too much... I "sort of figured" that the tackle on the boat was working for the previous owners so I didn't sweat size and so forth. BUT SINCE YOU ASKED!!!

Anchor is a Danforth 13 according to the survey- it felt heavier to me. There is about 30' of 1/4" chain (it looks thicker to me), and about 50' of 1/2" three strand. There is also a secondary anchor.

Okay, I need to go and finish getting the spreaders back up. Wish me luck!

Thanks again,
"It is never too late to be who you might have been." -George Eliot
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Old 19-07-2008, 21:30   #7
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Some thoughts...

Everyone's already told you that you should check over your anchor and get some better details. You should know what kind of anchor you have, how long your rode is, whether or not you have a section of chain at the anchor end of things.

Now, one nice thing about where you're planning to anchor is that it's a general anchorage, according to the chart. Officially this means you don't need an all-round anchor lamp. But, due to the nearby channel and the marine industries working in the area, you'd be a fool to anchor without anything up.

It would be best if you could get an all-round (360°) white light, for example the emergency version sold at West Marine that looks like a flashlight. Bring an extra set of batteries. Make it the job of the anchor watch person to check the light and log that it is lit every hour. (Bring lotsa batteries.)

It's hard to stay awake on anchor watch 'cuz it's so boring. Bring a good book or two, and ensure you have some place you can sit and read without keeping the other watch person awake. I use a kitchen timer to remind me to look around the boat/harbour every half hour.


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