I had to get comfortable with anchoring pretty quick on our last trip. After years of chartering in the BVIs and being on either a mooring
ball or in the marina we headed to the Leewards starting out in Antigua
. First night out we anchored in the bay to the right just as you enter English
Harbour. I dove the anchor
and then we took the dinghy
ashore. While eating dinner a nasty storm line moved through with lightning
, sideways rain and what seemed to be about 40 knot
winds. I ran across to the dock
on the south side of Nelsons Dockyard where through the rain I could barely make out our boat bobbing up and down and dancing on the anchor
across the bay. The weather
lasted probably 30-45 minutes and I sat there in the soaking rain watching the boat most of that time - ready to jump in the dinghy
and brave the storm if necessary. At least there was a good 1/2 mile or so of fetch between the boat and the nearest shore if the anchor did fail - maybe I could get there in time. Finally the storm calmed down a bit and everyone finished up with dinner. We jumped in the dinghy and returned to the boat still braving the rain and occasional lightning
to the sides of us only to find the boat sitting exactly how we had left it. I slept pretty good that night knowing that it held in those conditions. I had anchored before, but mostly in benign weather
and not often overnight.
We anchored several more times during that trip and it got easier and easier to relax each time. Sometimes we had to set it a couple times and once we left an anchorage on Nevis
because we couldn't get a good set. Another time we dropped the hook at Barbuda where we had a deserted 14 mile pristine beach all to ourselves for two days with the anchor dug deeply into the sand bottom. I even had enough confidence at one time to anchor a couple hundred yards off of the Nonsuch Bay resort break wall with the wind
blowing towards the resort. Of course I dove the anchor and I also backed down to 1500 rpms for half a minute and then to 2000 rpms for a few seconds after that just to be sure. I kept a very close eye on the boat that evening from shore and I woke up several times that night to check our position, but everything held rock solid. At the end of the two weeks I was actually looking forward to anchoring and now I'm re-thinking how I will approach our next trip to the BVIs. I think we'll spend more time at the areas without mooring
balls that will be less crowded and where we don't have to show up by 2:00 to ensure there is an open ball. Or at least we'll be more relaxed because if all the balls are full we'll just drop the anchor for the night.
There are a couple things I always did when anchoring. First, I always backed down and often quite a bit more than what is probably necessary. I also always dove the anchor and took as much time as necessary to be comfortable with the set. If I had any concerns I had my son back the boat down more so I could watch the anchor while he did it. Finally, I always marked our position on my iPad Navionics
app as well as the boats chart plotter so I could always check to make sure we didn't drag. I typically checked it a couple times shortly following anchoring, anytime we returned to the boat from ashore or snorkeling, and before going to bed
. We generally put out at least 5:1 scope
and wherever space allowed we would do 7:1.
I know I am pretty green compared to many on this board and this is probably considered pretty trivial, but that was a major leap for me. Actually, it was probably one of the most significant advancements I've made in quite some time sailing-wise and has really expanded how I can approach our trips. Now, just don't ask me about my first experience docking
stern-to between two other boats in a cross wind with the bow tied off to a mooring between. I guess you can go too slow in a marina after all. However, no damage done to anything aside from my ego.