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Old 14-06-2015, 03:33   #1
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Anchor vs Cable

In my decades of cruising, I have picked up all kinds of carp on my anchor, including an old bicycle, an old lawn chair, old mooring cables, fishing gear, you name it.

But the other day, I finally picked up that thing which we all dread so much: an electrical cable.

When I saw it come up with the anchor, my heart sank. My first thought was "I'm dead". Then I realized, that I wasn't dead yet, and therefore probably wouldn't become dead in the immediate future, so set about trying to figure out how to get free.

This was in a cozy anchorage in the Finnish archipelago, ironically one I've anchored in many times before. It has shelter from three sides, but rocks all around (the rocks are usual) less than a cable on each side. It was blowing 25 knots, and I was single handed. So from the moment I lost holding on to something, including this bloody cable, I had only seconds to get to the helm to prevent being blown on to the rocks. A pretty pickle.

I looped a piece of rope around the cable and drew the loop up tight on my bow cleat, dropped the anchor clear of the cable, then raised it out of the way. Dropped the cable, pulled out the rope, then tried to get the anchor into the bow roller. Damn, the clutch on the windlass opened and the anchor dropped away again. No winch handle to hand -- I keep meaning to put a pocket for one in the anchor locker.

So I had run back to the helm to maneuver -- in terror that I would hook the cable again -- to stay off the rocks. I left the engine in gear with the helm locked to try to offset the drift, then went back to the bow with a winch handle. Got the anchor up and finally headed out to safety. Whew.

Had a nice sail in winds gusting up to 40 knots, using my blade jib alone, mostly unreefed.


So here's the question -- why did I not die? Has anyone else hooked a cable with an anchor? There was no sign and the cable was not marked on the chart -- maybe it was unused and that's what saved me?
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Old 14-06-2015, 03:55   #2
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Re: Anchor vs Cable

Well for starters submarine cables are heavily armoured. Most of the cable is many layers of steel wire and various plastic overings and fillers. Only a tiny amount of the cable is actually carrying electricity and that is right in the middle

The cable you snagged could probably hold your boat in any blow without damage
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Old 14-06-2015, 03:58   #3
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Re: Anchor vs Cable

Of course, if it was a length of house cable, then it was just some rubbish discarded into the ocean.
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Old 14-06-2015, 04:08   #4
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Re: Anchor vs Cable

It was about 4" thick. My anchor ruined the outer rubber case, revealing a steel mesh casing.

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Old 14-06-2015, 04:17   #5
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Re: Anchor vs Cable

Google images of armoured submarime cable and see how tough they are .

They can be a bear to terminate, you spend most of the time removing the outer casings before you finally get to the conductors.
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Old 14-06-2015, 04:38   #6
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Re: Anchor vs Cable

Whew, indeed!
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Old 14-06-2015, 05:55   #7
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Re: Anchor vs Cable

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
It was about 4" thick. My anchor ruined the outer rubber case, revealing a steel mesh casing.

Sent from my D6633 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
When I worked for Dow Chemical, We made armor for such cables. Usually two or three layers of accordion formed steel & aluminum fused to several layers of various coatings. They are pretty tough. One that size should have been marked. It could be power or communication (low power bundles of stuff or coax or fiber optic. Perhaps recent & in Notice To Mariners or the regional equivalent?
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Old 14-06-2015, 07:50   #8
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Re: Anchor vs Cable

We picked up a fibre optic cable that runs between Ibiza and Majorca once. It was marked on the chart, but located 200m or so from the marked position. Being a fairly popular anchorage I assume we weren't the first to snag it and it had been pulled out of position. Oh the joy! Fortunately conditions weren't too bad, although it was dark which added to the complications and the cable only had enough give to come to 1m below the surface. A lot of dicking around and we eventually got a line around the cable, took up the tension and were able to lower the anchor clear. And we didn't die, nice result all round! The cable was around 75mm diameter in a black casing. It may have been electrical not optic, or a combination, I can't recall why I was thinking optic fibre at the time, wishful thinking maybe
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