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Old 09-07-2007, 06:27   #1
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Cable Wrap

We had an interesting experience in Newport this past week. The wind was blowing about 20k from the NE in the anchorage and we set down our 35# CQR with 125 of chain in 22' of water on the north edge of the anchorage opposite Goat Island.

As we settled down to our position the admiral said she wanted more space to the yacht anchored to the west. So I began to retrieve the anchor with our Maxwell VWC1100 windlass. I slowly got the boat over the anchor but the anchor did not break out and come up easily as it usually does.

Working the windlass slowly so as not to overload the circuit and blow the breaker... I slowly lifted up what appeared to be a cable. The odd thing was that the 3-4" encrusted cable was twisted in a single loop around the flukes. I tried to release the anchor as fast as the windlass would go.. and the 1100 runs very fast compared to most... thinking the anchor would drop down fast enough for the looped cable to fall away. No luck.

Called the Harbor Master who came out at 11pm and together we attempted to get the cable off. We tried to tie a 25' x 1" line to the shackle just forward of the fluke swivel and have him pull the anchor foward as I let out chain to allow the flukes to face downward so the cable would slip off. No luck. We were securely anchored to the abandoned cable.

The Harbor Master called a diver who came at 0600 the next morning. It was still blowing at about 18k and I thought that there would be a lot of pressure on the chain rode. He dove down followed the chain to the anchor, lifted it up and slipped the thick cable off the flukes and reset the anchor in less than 5 minutes! WOW that was quick.

Apparently the chain was laying in the mud at the bottom and there was not much force on the rode... at least not enough to prevent him from lifting the anchor to windward and getting the heavy cable off in 18 knots of breeze!

It got me thinking that if I wasn't "singlehanding" (wife won't work the boat)... I might have attached a long line to the anchor as we tried with the Harbor Master... but much longer... laid out lots of chain so that there was lots on the sea floor and as little tension on it as possible and then gone out in the dink and motored off to windward pull the anchor with me so that it would free itself from the cable and reset to windward.

Of course, I would want someone on board with the engine ready to power foward if the anchor did not reset so that we would not drift back into the yachts anchored to leeward. With no winds I might have done this alone, but 20K and no anchor will send the yacht drifting through the crowded anchorage. OUCH.

I still can't figure out how the cable twisted into a loop. It was quick thick and the wind did not shift after we set the anchor. Also, we have a swivel which I would have thought might have prevented the twisting of the loop. But maybe it enabled it! The Harbor Master told that every year 25-30 yachts snag cables in the anchorage.

I suspect that if the cable was not wrapped, with the help of the Harbor Master we would have been able to free it from the flukes.

I often attach a float to the anchor which I can use to pull the anchor off if it get stuck. However, several other boats complained about the float because in the crowded anchorage they were concerned about it wrapping their prop in the wind shifted as it is common for boats to have their anchor "under" another yacht in the crowded anchorage.

We won't be dropping the hook in that location again!

jef
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:07   #2
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I often attach a float to the anchor which I can use to pull the anchor off if it get stuck. However, several other boats complained about the float because in the crowded anchorage they were concerned about it wrapping their prop in the wind shifted as it is common for boats to have their anchor "under" another yacht in the crowded anchorage.
A general rule of thumb is that a crowded anchorage will easily overcrowd beyond reasonable swing room for everyone. One thunderstorm and it's a mess with damage and injuries. Just because people do it does not mean you should join in. There is a good chance two boats won't swing the same in a stirm and if the boat sits above your anchor then there is a large part of a swing circle where you over lap.

Sure they complain. Stupid people often are the first ones. The line and a float on the anchor is a good way to retrieve a fouled anchor. Looping flukes on a cable loop is of course not so easy to detangle without a diver. Your alternative would be to leave the rode and hire the diver and come back to get it by first marking it with a float. I know folks that have done that. I also know folks that lost the anchor too. A spare anchor and rode serves well in that situation.
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:21   #3
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Years ago I got my anchor caught in a huge ball of discarded wire in 90 feet. SCUBA saved the day. Anything over free dive depth I carry SCUBA.
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:25   #4
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I had read that one should buoy the anchor but after my first experience I no longer do it. I woke up and cursed thinking someone had swiped the nice clean little fender I used as a float. As I motored out of the anchorage (St. Michaels) I heard a whomp whomp near the stern. On examination it was my fender wrapped in the prop! Somehow I had drifted over it in the night and the pull or my nice sharp prop had snapped the line!

Buoying anchors should be discouraged as it only presents obstacles to dinghies returning at night. I have considered using a float in sections of the ICW where the bottom is reputed to be covered with trees but, as it is usually shallow and diveable, I do not.
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Old 09-07-2007, 15:39   #5
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I carry spare anchor and rode, and probably could have set another anchor and released all tension on the CQR, but we would have been some room to fall back and the whole operation would have taken me hours alone to try to retrieve a fouled anchor... ruin our day. So the diver was a pretty expedient option in Newport, but the $100 was a bit steep for the entire operation.

Floats on anchors may be a nuissance in the anchorage, but if everyone used one it would sure cut down on the over crowding. When the winds are light and shifting about it is hard to know where yachts' anchors actually are and you drop yours in what lookes like the right place only to find that when the wind picks up and the rodes all straighten out you are in the wrong place!

I like to anchor when the winds are 10-15 and have been steady for a while so I can get a good picture of where other anchors actually are.

That same week a couple of guys on a 45' yacht with 3/8" chain dragged down on us as we were sleeping when the winds gusted up to 35. Their windlass wasn't working either apparently... and one of them was clearly more knowledgable about boats than the other.

I did understand why they didn't run there motor and try to stay in position and lift the anchor manually instead of dragging their anchor several hundred feet through the anchorage.

The bump to our hull caused no damage, but I was of course concerned that they would hook my rode and take me adrift with them. I fired up the engine and as they drifted astern their anchor finally reset. But they were almost on top of another yacht. Of course it was past midnight.

The skipper than shouts to me to move my boat so he can retrieve his anchor which he claims is under mine. Ha???

I told him to motor up slowly and retrieve his chain... poor fella must have been exhausted... and when he was close to wait for me to swing away and then motor off away from me to break out his anchor. The fell at the helm was not too sharp with his steering... but then again an achored yacht is not as easy to steer as a non anchored one. You need to watch the stern since that is the end which moves MOST when the bow is restrained. Anyway they got their hook, and reset it clear of all the other boats and the rest of the night was peaceful.

But it's amazing how many boats drag when the wind picks up to 25 or gusts to 30+ in Newport of Block Island. I don't think all the boats are properly anchored in those anchorages cos there always to be someone dragging through the anchor field and scaring everyone else. I've even seen some rather large charter yachts make a mess of their anchoring... and I am talking 75 footers or more... like sv Norwind last week. I think they has windlass problems as well. Bummer than can be when you have a big boat and heavy ground tackle to deal with.

jef
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Old 10-07-2007, 01:05   #6
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"I tried to release the anchor as fast as the windlass would go.. and the 1100 runs very fast compared to most... thinking the anchor would drop down fast enough for the looped cable to fall away. No luck."

I wonder if there was an opportunity to tie the cable off to a halyard with a slip knot of some kind, free the anchor then dump the cable.
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Old 10-07-2007, 01:41   #7
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What was the cable Jef? I am presuming it is old and unused. I woudl ahve also thoguht authorities would have either removed it or marked it if it was such a hazard catching that many boats per year.
I got caught up on a cable once as well. I think it was an old comunications cable and not power. It was clearly marked on the chart as being on the otherside of the bay. Someone must have got tangled in it once before and dragged it. It took a tremendouse amount of effort to remove it and free spooling didn't help at all. After we freed it, we moved to another part of the bay. Another boat cam by about an hour later and the skipper yelled out, "hey watch for a cable somewhere near you". I replied with, "yeah the one I just dragged up over there". Hmmmm, wonder how he knew
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Old 10-07-2007, 04:40   #8
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The Harbor Master told us that it is an old and unused cable. Since it was not large (to him) being 3-4" encrusted, it may have been a communicaton cable. He said there is a fibre optic one down there which is also active and a few inches in diameter.

There is a marking of a cable crossing, but not were we were anchored. If you look at Newport Harbor charts there is a line of white bouys marking the north side of the anchorage. We were well within this demarcation line. I was indeed surprized that the windlass was able to lift such a cable to the point where the shack of the anchor was at the roller and the flukes out of the water, but there was no way tie something to that cable and lift it off. The loop was truly the odd thing. I can't figure out how it made such a tight little wrap around the flukes.

The only thing which makes sense is that there was a large loop and our hook caught it and when we weighed anchor it pulled the loop closed. But why would there be a large loop in this cable?

Anchorages such as Newport and the Dockyard in Antigua are fouled with all sorts of rubbish on the sea floor and people are victims of it and will be forever.

jef
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Old 10-07-2007, 11:04   #9
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So just how much does a marine-grade plasma lance cost, and what size do you need to burn through a 4" thick cable in one pass? < G >
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Old 10-07-2007, 13:19   #10
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I imgaine the anchor droped to the bottom in one direction and on the cable. As you started puling, the anchor probably grabed caught the cable and then turned and looped the cable around itself. Not something you will ever be able to do again in a million years of trying to do it on purpose. Rememeber, the impossiple only happens when you don't intend it to. Hmmmm, a good candidate for a murphy law that line.
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Old 10-07-2007, 14:39   #11
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Wow, Jef.

Having spent a good deal of time in Newport Harbor, I can definitely appreciate your story. It's a very crowded place. It's a shame to hear you had a tough time there, but good to hear it was realatively easy and painless to finally get free.

We started using a float and release line on our anchor at all times specifically because of Newport harbor! It's so crowded that people do anchor and drift right up on top of your anchor/rode. It can be very difficult when people are doing that and you need to get your anchor up, with them on top of it or worse - entangled.

So now, I always use the float and anchor release line. Keeps people at bay and lets you retrieve your anchor in the event of an emergency.

FYI: He is right. A good 25% of all boats in Newport and Block Island do not put out sufficient scope for the 20+ ft at MLW, nevermind accounting for the tide. We have seen many a dragging there as well.

No clue about the loop, other than maybe it existed already and you tightened it as you fired up the windlass.

Hope you're having a great summer. We're FREEZING up here in Maine! ha ha ha

One time we had a guy in front of us start dragging mid-day in a very small and crowded spot (outer harbor at Naushon Island). He popps up, looks directly downwind at us and yells, "Is that you??!!?!" My wife and I had a good laugh since obviously a boat downwind from you (in 20-30kts) isn't dragging *toward* you.
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Old 10-07-2007, 15:20   #12
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"One time we had a guy in front of us start dragging mid-day in a very small and crowded spot (outer harbor at Naushon Island). He popps up, looks directly downwind at us and yells, "Is that you??!!?!" My wife and I had a good laugh since obviously a boat downwind from you (in 20-30kts) isn't dragging *toward* you. http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...lies/smile.gif"

During our Mexico cruising, we spent a restless night in a rocky bottomed anchorage just North of La Paz. Most of the bay was very deep with a fabled reef of which no one seemed to know the exact position.
The rest of the bay was very shallow, only about 2 feet deep. The only place anyone could anchor was on a rocky shelf between the shallow and very deep area.

Of course, it blew about 30 knots all night long. My wife kept nagging me every 15 minutes, saying we were surely dragging. I'd dutifully get up and look outside, and report back saying that the other 3 boats near us were still in the same relative positions and not to worry. She just wouldn't let go of the feeling that we were dragging.
Finally, I went outside and noticed that the biggest boat in the anchorage had definitely drug themselves upwind at least 200 to 300 feet.

Of course it was obvious out of 4 boats in the anchorage, 3 of us had dragged the same amount.

We then had to up anchor at 3 AM in 30 knots of wind with no moon and full cloud cover to try to find another place to anchor without hitting the fabled reef. Ain't cruising fun?



Steve B.
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Old 11-07-2007, 01:28   #13
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pirate Cable Cutting Solution

DeWalt make a nice battery powered angle grinder. With a zipcut blade you could have hacked it up pretty fast. Just hope it wouln't have been live.
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Old 11-07-2007, 06:30   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais
A general rule of thumb is that a crowded anchorage will easily overcrowd beyond reasonable swing room for everyone. One thunderstorm and it's a mess with damage and injuries. Just because people do it does not mean you should join in. There is a good chance two boats won't swing the same in a stirm and if the boat sits above your anchor then there is a large part of a swing circle where you over lap.
I agree with this. Consider the flip-side of other boaters complaining about your buoy... it is essentially doing half its job, which is to alert others to the location of your anchor - and keep them away from it.

If you use heavy chain, or a kellet, so your boat doesn't always lie to the anchor, then it can be particularly useful.

Just make sure it looks as little like a mooring buoy as possible - no prize for guessing why.
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