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Old 02-04-2015, 11:43   #1
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What was my mistake?

TL;DR kinda-new sailors dropped the hook for lunch, could not get the hook back up. What did we do wrong?!?!?!

My wife and I are in the process of easing into cruising full time before we move on to the boat full time. We spent a few days on our boat, and sailing in rough conditions on San Francisco bay.

We sailed ourselves over to Angel Island, pulled up the charts on navionics, found an "anchorage" ideal for lunch. We motored up, and observed a boat a little smaller than us anchored so we figured all was good (no visibility in SF Bay water). We dropped the hook 30-50 yards away from the other boat in about 14 feet of water. I put out 100 ft of chain, and a danforth anchor. It was blowing 20 knots, but we were on the leeward side of the island and fairly comfortable. I monitored our situation and concluded we were not dragging (there was about 5 knots of current at the time pulling us out towards the golden gate bridge).

I went to pull up the anchor, and got all but 20 feet back up, and could not get the last 20 feet up. I tried motoring over the anchor to get it to pull up. I tried motoring around in every direction to free it. I tried getting right over the top of it, and tieing it off and letting the force of the waves lifting the boat unset it. Nothing I did helped.

I didn't have a hacksaw or anything to cut the chain, so I had to let 250' of chain and an anchor go. I can only assume it was a rocky bed, and the chain/anchor got wedged in good.

The thing is... How in the hell should I have known that? I couldnt see it, navionics marked it as an "anchorage", there was another boat nearby.

Loosing an anchor + chain is an expensive mistake. From now on, I will carry a tool to cut chain, but I am wondering if I made a mistake here which I can learn from?
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Old 02-04-2015, 11:49   #2
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Re: what was my mistake?

Hell! Thats well over $1,000!


I dont know that area, but if you know its a rocky bottom you tie a line through the top of the anchor so you can pull the top up first.

Its certainly worth it to hire a diver.

Next time u chuck the whole lot overboard tie a fender to the end of the chain, then rush home and phone a diver.


Also buy a guide book for your cruising area that details all the anchorages. But even if its sand you may hook space junk... Old wrecks, cars etc.
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:04   #3
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Re: what was my mistake?

Where on Angel Island? Tide pulling to the GGB? Were you in Racoon Strait?

If you were on the East Side of the island, there were mooring balls there for a few years, but were removed. Anchoring is frowned upon by experienced sailors because of all the crap on the bottom that eats anchors.

If you tell us where you were it might help.

Given your earlier posts about your limited experience, it might be wise to ask first next time. When it's blowing 20 in The Bay, only Ayala Cove is to be trusted and there are moorings there, it's not really an anchorage.

If you want anchoring experience, go to Clipper Cove. No currents, great holding.

Clipper Cove SF-Bay

Good luck.
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:10   #4
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Re: what was my mistake?

We didn't want to go to Ayala Cove (we should have).
Just south of quarry point on the eastern side of the island.
It was pretty well protected from the wind, and I was monitoring dragging really closely, and we had only planned to be there for lunch.

I guess the tide was going out is more correct than pulling towards the GGB.

I will keep clipper cove in mind for the future.
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:22   #5
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Re: what was my mistake?

A) not checking the paper chart for that sunken wreck!
B) Not having a cutting device..
C) Not buoying the location with a fender or etc.
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:26   #6
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Re: what was my mistake?

there's a sunken wreck there?
I didn't see any wreck markers on navionics. This leads me to a follow up question: How up-to-date is navionics charts vs paper charts?
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:31   #7
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Re: what was my mistake?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Hell! Thats well over $1,000!


I dont know that area, but if you know its a rocky bottom you tie a line through the top of the anchor so you can pull the top up first.

Its certainly worth it to hire a diver.

Next time u chuck the whole lot overboard tie a fender to the end of the chain, then rush home and phone a diver.


Also buy a guide book for your cruising area that details all the anchorages. But even if its sand you may hook space junk... Old wrecks, cars etc.


You probably snagged a mess of cable or junk on the bottom.

What to do?
Putting a marker buoy (fender) on the bitter end of your chain before dropping it over the side would have been the thing to do. Recovery could be possible in such shallow water (20 feet) and would get you back the anchor or the 200+ feet of chain. Also, noting the GPS location when you were directly over the anchor would be good in order to direct a diver, in case the fender is lost.

Good luck on exploring the Bay.
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:33   #8
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Re: what was my mistake?

several mistakes, several lessons learned.
Thanks everyone for your input. I wont make the mistake again
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:34   #9
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Re: what was my mistake?

It might not be a sunken wreck.

Angel Island had a lot of use over the years (immigration buildings and many boats) and it could be other marine/boating "junk" on the bottom. Or something as simple as natural sunken logs.
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:41   #10
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Re: what was my mistake?

Dear Gathem Lots of folks get anchors stuck and it can happen anywhere, so you asked "what did I do wrong"? Perhaps nothing to begin with, but then you did not have a bolt cutter or hacksaw on a 44' boat. Perhaps you did not have proper charts-but not everything is charted or up to date. Perhaps you were just unlucky, but you can always use a trip line. I was rather shocked that you did not tie a fender to it and retrieve it later. It might have been possible with basic snorkel gear in 14 feet or a commercial diver might have costs a few hundred dollars if you took him on your boat. Your second attempt to ask what you did wrong is a bit more worrisome as you asked if there is a sunken wreck there. Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know those waters but there are unmarked submerged objects everywhere. Perhaps there was a wreck from a year ago but it was never reported, or if it was, it was not charted, or if it was reported it was not marked, but maybe in was in the NTM...who knows? Every chart, no matter what kind is limited by the data. You can find the last years of datum on any chart. You should be able to determine updates to your navionics. You are on a 44' boat and planning to cruise and should know whether your charting data and NTM updates are current. Just because another boat was anchored nearby does nt mean his anchor was not stuck--but likely it was not--you just don't know what may be on the bottom, even with updated charts. See the article in the latest BOATUS Magazine about the Round the World Raceboat that grounded on a reef.
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Old 02-04-2015, 13:07   #11
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Re: what was my mistake?

The "sunken wreck" was just an example... could have been "cable" "industrial debris" etc......
It is easy to forget to check a good chart for possibilities. I hooked an anchor on a sunken wreck once. Sure nuff... the next morning when it wouldn't come up I checked the chart and there it was! I could hear it banging on the steel wreck when I loosened /tightened the rode. Eventually got it off.
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Old 02-04-2015, 13:20   #12
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Re: what was my mistake?

Next time carry a paper chart of the area, too.
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Old 02-04-2015, 13:22   #13
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Re: what was my mistake?

Another San Francisco sailor here, just echoing the previous advice. The lee side of Angel is notorious for claiming anchors. Clipper Cove is excellent for anchoring, also you can stay overnight in Aquatic Park if you get a permit.

That sucks, though. Sorry you lost your anchor!

Also, I doubt there were 5 knots of current there, maybe 2 during a really big ebb.
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Old 02-04-2015, 13:24   #14
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Re: what was my mistake?

Hi Gathem, sorry for your experience. I think having an anchor irretrievably snagged is just one of those hazards we need to accept when anchoring. It does not happen often. If you suspect the bottom is littered with hazards you can rig a trip line, but this needs to set before you drop the anchor.

As Mark has suggested buoying the end of the chain before abandoning it is good idea although in a lot of cases hiring a diver is not economically worthwhile. Anyway having a float and suitable rope available to buoy the chain is sensible. In some situations you may need to rapidly abandon an anchor that is not stuck.

Some means of cutting wire or chain is also a must for every sailboat as one day you may need to cut away the rigging.

I think everything else you did was correct, but an extra method that is worth a try is to make a short loop of chain or SS wire. Attach a separate rope to this and try to feed this down the rode. The idea is to use this to pull the anchor out backwards. With a rollbar anchor you can also try to snag the roll bar with a grapnel from the tender.

It is quite common for the chain rather than the anchor to be wrapped around an obstruction. If your chain is marked comparing the amount of chain to the depth of water may give you a clue if it is the chain or anchor that is caught. The fact that you had 20 feet of rode remaining in 14 feet of water suggests it may have been the chain close to the anchor rather than the anchor itself that was caught. (If this was to the waterline). The best technique here is to let off some slack in the chain and try motoring around in a circle (try both ways) to unwrap the chain, but I see you gave this a try with no success.

Anyway now you have an excuse to buy a new anchor. The question is which model .
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Old 02-04-2015, 13:27   #15
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Re: what was my mistake?

Another option may be to heave to for lunch instead of anchoring. Your waters may be too crowded for this, but works great where I am. Much faster and less of a hassle than anchoring.

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