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Old 12-10-2012, 10:52   #1
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What would you have done?

We have just completed a five day trip up the inside passage of British Columbia. It was a wonderful trip with many sightings of whales and some sea lions, porpoise, etc and went off without a hitch... almost.
We only experienced one problem and that was anchoring on the final night.
Here's the situation and I would like to hear how others would have handled it....

I had originally chosen a different anchorage when planning our trip but when we arrived there at about 16:30 in deteriorating conditions, we found that it was not to our liking.

I decided to go around to the north side of Hanson Island to a very nice looking anchorage (on the chart). It was about a 7nm trip that took about an hour.
We arrived at the new anchorage at about 17:30 and found the best area was occupied by a stray log and I didn't want to risk bumping into it in the middle of the night, so we chose to move over to a smaller corner of the bay.

Our anchor rode is 200' of chain and 100' of rope. Distance from the bow roller to the water is 4' and there was to be a 4' rising tide. Winds forecast for that night were 15 - 20 kt, NW. The charted depth where we anchored was 28' 8" and drops off to 58'.

We put out 250' of rode.

Because of depth, we were forced to anchor fairly close to the rock shoreline and weren't really comfortable doing that but I figured that I would rather be anchored securely, even if it meant being a little too close to the rocks, than anchored out deeper and not having enough scope out to be held securely.

So we anchored and set our alarm. We went below and had dinner and while we ate, the wind started to pick up and daylight faded.

After dinner I thought it would be a good idea to give one more tug test on the anchor, so I went out and did that. All was good, we sprang forward and as I back up again to set the boat near the end of the rode, the painter line fouled the prop. I put it in neutral immediately, then tried jogging it to forward to see if it would free. It did not. So we cut the painter and jumped in the dingy with a knife taped to the boat hook and tried to cut it free. After two hours of unsuccessful attempts at cutting the painter at the prop, I started trying to pull back and forth and it did come free. Yay.

So anyway, for a time, there we were, anchored solidly too close to the rocks but with an alarm set and then suddenly were without the ability to move the boat should the alarm go off. We certainly felt vulnerable at that point and knew that freeing the prop was absolutely top priority.

Thankfully, we were able to get it freed and the forecasted winds did not materialize.

Now having had a brush with disaster and coming out unscathed, I'd like to hear how more experience sailors would have handled it. Please no answers like, I would have more anchor rode and anchor in deeper water. The question is, what would you do in this situation, with the equipment we had to work with?

I'll hang up and listen to your answers

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Old 12-10-2012, 11:03   #2
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It happens to the very best of em. Just curious about this log though. How big was that thing? Any way to have used the dinghy and secured the log in shore?
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:10   #3
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Re: What would you have done?

It was a pretty big log and was partially water logged. I couldn't see the whole thing, otherwise I would have tried to get close enough to get a rope on it and drag it over to the corner and out of the way.
Another thing about the dinghy was that we actually had two dinghies. An inflatable flipped upside down and riding on top of a 9 ft boston whaler, so didn't really want to mess with them unless we had to. Part of the reason it took two hours to free the prop, was that we had to unmount the inflatable first.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:10   #4
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Re: What would you have done?

Remember you have a sail boat and do not need an engine. Props and engine failure can and do happen all the time. I am always prepared to hoist the sail to move if I have to. The worst situation is no wind in a flood tide. I have sailed into my slip after engine problems, wind was light and it took awhile but I made it. You, sounds like had plenty of wind to move. But remember, it is better to be lucky than smart.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:10   #5
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Re: What would you have done?

well.... you certainly had plenty of rode out. I would probably be biased by a similar situation years ago. Late in the day, we arrived in a small protected looking bay. We had trouble anchoring due to rocks, but finally did. About dark, when the tide changed, the little bay I was in was crazy, the boat was moving all around and I could hear the chain rode dragging over hard pan rocks as it did! At times the boat was awfully colse to the rocky shore. Finally I dingied over to some old pilings and put a heavy stern line to those. (dark now!) Next thing I know the boat is really dragging!.. the pressure of the stern line made the anchor come loose. The wind was howling out in the Straight, causing some small swell to come in the anchorage. That little boat had no radar. (or gps) Eventually I had to abandon the stern line, pull anchor and move the boat in the dark to a differnt anchorage. So yeah... I feel your pain! Returned to retrieve the stern line the next day.
Lessons learned? Me and you: arrive early at unknown anchorages! You:remember the dingy rode behind you!
I might have dealt with the log... tried to move it etc....
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:12   #6
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Re: What would you have done?

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V_Surya View Post
Remember you have a sail boat and do not need an engine. Props and engine failure can and do happen all the time. I am always prepared to hoist the sail to move if I have to. The worst situation is no wind in a flood tide. I have sailed into my slip after engine problems, wind was light and it took awhile but I made it. You, sounds like had plenty of wind to move. But remember, it is better to be lucky than smart.
This is the PNW... the tidal current may be running 6 knots or even more.....
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:14   #7
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Re: What would you have done?

The log was my first thought as well. If the log was just a floater would it be a risk of damage if the boat happened to drift and rub against it?

I can see the hassle of unrigging the dinghy to try to move the log but I would have taken the trouble to do it this situation. A little hassle with the dinghy but to secure a much better anchorage with a strong wind forecast, definitely worth it.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:21   #8
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Re: What would you have done?

Yes Cheekako is right, there would have been no chance to sail off that anchor. I forgot to mention that it was a flood tide but even in a, ebb tide, if we'd have raised a sail, we'd have been like a good scotch and water... On the rocks!
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:34   #9
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Re: What would you have done?

I fouled a line in my prop in Lake Michigan. Had to dive to cut it. Seriously cold water. Now I keep a wetsuit on board for just such a situation.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:41   #10
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Re: What would you have done?

haha, the next day when we were discussing the situation and what we should take from it, we agreed that the acquisition of diving gear should be moved up on the priority list of things to buy for the boat.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:15   #11
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Re: What would you have done?

Was it a log, or a piling? If it were a piling you could have tied off to it. And even a partly submerged log (dead head) will move. One thing you have to remember up North is the tides. Always calculate for the tides when mooring to nature.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:28   #12
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Re: What would you have done?

It is only sailors that have not anchored much that have not had a few anchor adventures

A couple of points scope is always calculated from the depth you drop in so even at high tide you had 6.7:1 which should have been very secure under the conditions.
If its a shaft drive boat you can try rotating the shaft by hand from inside to unwind the rope.
If a knife on a boat hook does not work (it usually does not) its a dive I am afraid. I am not a fan of cold water, but think of those mad people that cut holes in the ice for a refreshing dip.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:37   #13
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Re: What would you have done?

We experienced something close to what happen to you. Our engine failed and we sailed into an anchorage dropped the anchor in the evening. Set anchor alarm, and the wind picked up later that night. The alarm went off and we where drifting noticeably towards the rocks with no way to sail out. We had all our anchor and chain out at a 7.1 scope. What I did was drop the dingy, throw an anchor in it with a line tied off to the bow drove out and dropped it at about a 45 degree off my other anchor. We stopped dragging about 10ft off the rocks.

The next AM when we pulled up the anchor we pulled up a sunken motor boat that we where dragging on the bottom with the anchor stuck in its foredeck.

Think its always good to have a spare anchor on board with rode.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:42   #14
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Re: What would you have done?

Scuba gear and a wetsuit or dry suit are a must as far north as the OP is. I prefer a dry suit myself actually for these waters.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:44   #15
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Re: What would you have done?

Seems like you did just fine, except for fouling the painter. So, #1 a floating painter and tend to it when the prop is spinning, and #2 a wet or drysuit (my preference in really cold water) as you can always get stuff in your prop.

You had plenty of scope - I would probably have been happy with 175'.

Otherwise . . . if you are feeling insecure and don't want to move, putting out a second anchor is always an alternative.

I might have looked for a small cove in which to do a stern shore tie - that is a useful technique in anchorages where the bottom is deep or which drops off pretty quickly. There are often such little coves around the PNW. But you need shore lines - floating is best (a spare anchor rode will do but is more work and two lines are better) to do it. The cove needs to be shaped to protect you from beam winds - winds blowing from offshore (onto the shore lines) are best, or on the bow (onto the anchor) are ok (you tend to lay out a lot of scope when doing this because you usually end up in decently shallow water.
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