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Old 20-09-2017, 16:50   #1
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Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

This may be a stupid question but I come from the background where there are no stupid questions (physics).

When cruising Caribbean (I am planning to charter cruise around Puerto Rico, Culebra, USVI) do people leave yacht on anchor unattended when visiting ashore, would you do it only in a slight wind and with boat in view in a well protected cove? If I am cruising short (double) handed the option to sight see with someone left on anchor watch is very limiting.

How brave can I be while not being stupid? What is the common sense around it? I would rather not learn from my own mistakes.
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Old 20-09-2017, 16:56   #2
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

Yes, you leave your boat on it's own. Be sure to get good ground tackle (anchors), and learn how to use them. You'll get used to it. At least for short term trips.

I have never been comfortable leaving the boat overnight, but many do.

Cheers, and enjoy your trip.

Paul.
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Old 20-09-2017, 17:36   #3
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

It's quite common to leave the boat unattended. Have good ground tackle and know how to use it. All will be fine.
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Old 20-09-2017, 17:46   #4
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

In the Caribbean you have the advantage of being able to dive on your anchor pretty easily and make sure everything is set right.

It can be nerve-wrecking at first and it's important to keep a weather eye, but you can't do much cruising without leaving your boat sometimes. The good news is that other cruisers (if they're around) will usually help to keep an eye on your boat if you're going away for a few days.
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Old 20-09-2017, 17:56   #5
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

As others have said, you do normally leave your yacht unattended when you go ashore. That said, your questions are valid and contain part of the answer - you do so, "while not being stupid" about it.

That is, make sure you know what kind of bottom you're anchoring in and that you have, in fact anchored properly before leaving your yacht. We all have horror stories of people that show up at an anchorage, literally drop the anchor and speed off to shore for cocktails leaving everyone else to deal with fending off their boat when it starts to drag.

It might seem obvious, but make sure you know what the weather is expected to be like while you're gone; ensure you put out proper scope; make sure you familiarize yourself with local currents & tides; etc.

It's just about making sure you understand the conditions where you're anchoring and using a bit of common sense.
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Old 20-09-2017, 17:59   #6
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

Um, what "ashore" are you hoping to see? You do know these islands are now devastated due to Irma and Maria, right?
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Old 20-09-2017, 18:01   #7
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

Rule 1: Never trust an anchor during the first 24 hours.

If you can setup an old smart phone (cheap on eBay) with Drag Queen or other anchor alarm app.

What you really want is

1) alert to dragging condition

2) someone nearby to respond with a dinghy

Like AT Martin said almost every other cruiser in an anchorage would "cover" for you if asked.

Some will even cover unasked when they see a true problem with someone else's yacht. During early stages of two hurricanes now I've seen Cruisers out taking care of boats, unasked, for absent owners - mostly tightening lines to get / keep their hulls off pilings. Never alone (avoids problems later) and usually with a smile and the joke "hi we're from FEMA" for whoever is around.
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Old 20-09-2017, 18:10   #8
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

I often leave my boat at anchor but follow all the advise of the previous posters on this thread.
With that said. I most always have someone atleast from shore watching the boat, but cannot over emphasize knowing the bottom, watching the weather, currents, and tides, and choosing the right anchorage.

One time i returned to my boat after it dragged anchor for about 150 meters, no harm no fowl, but i was lucky!

Also i am mostly singlehand sailing
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Old 20-09-2017, 19:42   #9
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

In addition to the wise advise already given, make sure to display the proper day shapes, & to turn off your nav lights, while switching on your anchor light. Try & get an image in your mind of the bottom contours of the possible spots where you'll be beaching the dinghy, so that you know where the surf is likely to form & where it isn't. And take a chart copy with you, along with local maps too.

If you can manage it, travel to shore, upwind & upcurrent. So that should the dinghy engine conk out you'll drift back towards the mother ship (but always pack useable oars). Carry a small backpack with the necessities in case you have to spend the night ashore. This along with the usual dinghy gear.

Also, if you can, put patches of SOLAS reflective tape on the mother ship's gunwales every 3m or so. Ditto around the circumference of the mast at 2 or 3 different heights. That way the boat's easier to find in the dark, should her lights fail, & or she goes on walkabout without permission. Which, it's good to do this on the dinghy as well, to enhance it's visibility.

Know too that after a few harbor hops you'll often run into many of the same people & boats. One's who've you've already met before & befriended, & gotten a feel for. And if you'll be gone for any length of time, let those you trust know your rough sked so that they can watch over your boat. Odds are they'll do the same with you in reverse.

You might read the Dashew's books, particularly the one on seamanship, & also weather. They're free at www.setsail.com/free-books There are lots, & lots of good tips on this kinds of thing in there.


EDIT: If you can, take a surfing class or three, even if you only use longboards or boogie boards. It's a LOT of fun, & you also learn how to read the waves, as well as interpret the local bottom contours. Both from the ocean side, & the beach perspective. It'll help you avoid accidentally winding up in breaking surf in the dink, & how to handle it better on those occasions that you do.

Also, rarely is it a bad idea to leave a 2nd anchor ready to deploy in whichever bow roller that isn't in use. That or on the boat's stern. Just in case a kind soul has to rescue your boat from dragging.
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Old 20-09-2017, 20:06   #10
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

In most of my Pacific island wanderings there were no facilities, marinas or moorings to use.

In Rabaul harbour, New Guinea, I put down my 45Lb CQR anchor, with 50Ft of 1/2" chain & 130Ft of 3/8 chain in 60Ft of water & used it as a mooring for 15 months.

I regularly anchored around the Pacific islands for reasonable periods, often in 80Ft of water or more. If It was to be for long, I always used that bit of 1/2" chain on the bottom, for the extra shock absorbance it provided.

I had more trouble getting an anchor that had been down a while, back up, than with dragging. I always carried a full scuba tank to use to go down & get chains unwound from coral heads where coral beds were the only area with water shallow enough to anchor.
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Old 20-09-2017, 20:20   #11
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

BTW, it's worth reading this blog post, along with some of the blog in general. It has lots, & lots of good info, plus some really funny s**t too. Including stuff on anchor alarms, & remote boat monitoring.Denali Rose: Siren Marine Boat Monitoring System
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Old 20-09-2017, 20:57   #12
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

In Culebra there are some free mooring balls near the main harbor, Dakiti, dive on them to check security, might be worth tying a safety line direct to mooring pin. Easy walk to Ferry or airport. There may not be any moorings floats left after hurricanes, but you can dive down and find the pin.

There seem to be a few long term anchored boats in Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas as well. Security might be an issue. Good place to fly in / out of and provision up.

Don't know about PR.
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Old 21-09-2017, 06:38   #13
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

Thanks a lot, it was very helpful. On charter boat I will not have much input on the gear, but will be critical to what I get and how I can trust it.

As for what is left there , it is horrible, but not that I am taking advantage of their misfortune, I booked charter long time ago. I do not think it would be a right thing to back off now .. do you? In terms of shore activities I would be more interested in nature than bar scene anyway.
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Old 21-09-2017, 07:39   #14
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pskudlarski View Post
As for what is left there , it is horrible, but not that I am taking advantage of their misfortune, I booked charter long time ago. I do not think it would be a right thing to back off now .. do you?
You'll likely find that this decision will be made for you. From what I understand, many (if not most) charter boats have been lost, and the infrastructure to support chartering and other forms of tourism will not be available for a very long time. If you haven't been cancelled already and you haven't purchased trip insurance, you might see if you can sneak a policy in... Pete
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Old 21-09-2017, 07:43   #15
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Re: Leaving boat unattended on anchor, when is it reasonable and for how long.

By the way, in terms of nature, many of the islands have been completely denuded of their foliage. Any native wildlife that managed to survive must be having an awful time finding food, water, and shelter. Have a look at this NASA before/after photo of the Virgin Islands area...

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