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Old 30-09-2010, 20:10   #1
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Bahamas Anchor Advice

Next summer we will be cruising our Hunter 356 in the Bahamas. We currently have a 30 lb Ultra with 50 feet of chain and a 15 lb Delta with 15 feet of chain. We are still relatively new to sailing and feel like we might need to add another big anchor for possible storms.

Any suggestions? We'd appreciate any advice!
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Old 30-09-2010, 20:29   #2
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I don't think that there is one specific anchor that does it all in the Bahamas. I felt that the Bahamas was one of the most challenging places for anchoring during my circumnavigation. The currents in many areas are fast, and they scour the sand off a hard coral bottom, and there is nothing for the anchor to grip in many locations. You need to arrive early and find a good patch of sand that is deep and offers good holding. Many of the anchorages have way too many yachts, especially when you consider the marginal nature of the holding no matter what anchor you have. When the afternoon and evening thunderstorms come through, you get to see plenty of yachts dragging anchor.

I would use an all chain rode and whatever anchor you feel that works well for you in sand. My choice for my 39 foot catamaran is my 70 pound Beugel.

But more important than a specific anchor design is to plan your trip so that you arrive in good anchorages early in the afternoon so that you have time to find alternative anchorages if things don't turn out as well as you had planned.
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Old 30-09-2010, 20:50   #3
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The 15 lb Delta I would think pretty light for anything but a lunch hook. The 30 lb Ultra is probably adequate although I personally would go a little larger. But I've drug anchor before and do tend to err on the high side.

Dave's advise is right on. More important that the anchor is where you drop it and making sure it is dug in. Anchoring along the edge of the banks like most spots along the Exumas chain you will have a current ripping in and out through most anchorages every time the tide changes. Some spots the bottom will be a few inches of sand over hard, smooth limestone so nothing to dig into.

To make it more fun, the direction reverses 180 degrees every 6 hours. If you are in a closed harbor you won't get this but any spot that is open to shallow banks on one side and ocean on the other will experience this.

So pick your spot, set your anchor and dive it to check it. Crowded spots you may have to drop two anchors to match the other boats. One goes up current one down but both attached to the bow. As the current reversed you hang first from one, then reverse again and hang on the other. After a couple of days you will have a nice knot at the bow to untangle. Of course to do this you need two more or less equal anchors.
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:51   #4
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Dave,

Did you drop 2 anchors and if so how did you rig them. Bow/stern, both from bow, etc?
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:02   #5
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Manson Supreme works in nearly anything. For years I used a Bruce as my primary with a CQR as backup. The Bruce was useless in grass. The Manson Supreme is fine for most anything. Most of the anchorages in the Bahamas is good sand. Even in the scoured out anchorages you can usually find spots of sand. Grass is difficult, very hard to penetrate and that's where the Supreme works better than many.
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:04   #6
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I've used a Delta quite a bit as well as a Bullwaga in the Bahamas and have been very pleased with both. I agree your Delta is undersized as is the chain length.

As far as a second anchor, one thing to consider is your ability to launch and retrieve it.
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:27   #7
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I think you'd sleep better with two 30# anchors and chain than the combination you have. Currents can run fairly high (~2kt) but that's close to the channels and in some sections. It's possible to anchor with one in light currents but I'd not suggest it.

Most folks put two anchors down, 180 degrees from each other, and make sure they're set. The biggest problem I had was the somewhat thin holding (sand over hard coral or limestone). I was worried about pulling the main anchor out which is why I went to a Bruce (20kg) as it's supposed to reset itself if the pull angle gets too extreme. My other anchor was a 20kg CQR (came with the boat).

The down side to two anchors is the high probability that they will become entwined during the course of the night, making the task of retrieving them more difficult and longer.
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:32   #8
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When dropping 2 anchors almost always run both from the bow. There are some situations where bow and stern attachments are used but not usually in the Bahamas.

The 2 anchors are usually only used in a cut or channel with reversing tidal flow. The anchors will be deployed in a straight line with each other not in a V or an angle, with the boat in the middle.

Running both anchors to the bow allows the boat to swing and point into the wind or current. Anchoring with bow and stern anchors can hold the boat sideways to wind or current putting a angular pull on the anchor rode possibly pulling the anchor up. Anchors work with the pull inline with the anchor.
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:35   #9
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Don't put out two if the rest of the anchorage have only one out. This is a common error with newbies. You'll just screw things up. In most of the anchorages in the Bahamas cruisers use only one anchor. In a few tight ones such as Pipe Creek in the Exumas they may put two out.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:26   #10
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It all depends where you drop the hook! There are good anchorages and there are poor ones. Remember that there can be extremely violent winds from thunderstorms. (66 knots recorded a couple of years ago in Marsh Harbour, Abaco) Personally I like at least 2 lbs of anchor for every foot of yacht and sometimes more! If you can handle it go for all chain and a good long snubber. If other yachts are on a single anchor in the anchorage DO NOT put two anchors out. Be wary of anchoring close inshore in the lee. Squalls can come in 180 degrees from the prevailing wind. Talk to other yachties with local knowledge.....some of them have been in the Bahamas for years. Remember....."If anything can go wrong on a boat, it probably will."
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:44   #11
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There is much good advice above. I noticed that several people mentioned the problem with attempts to anchor in places with too little sand over the hard coral substrate. There is a trick to know more about this sand depth. Marine tube worms are common on the sand that is deep, but they will not be found in shallow layers of sand. Their presence in the deeper sands can be seen in the clear waters from your bow by the appearance of numerous small holes. If the bottom appears with holes, not unlike a pancake that is ready to flip, then the sand will be deep enough to hold.
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Old 12-10-2010, 05:47   #12
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The Delta anchor is a great anchor. (On our 34' tri, We've used the 35lb for over 2,000 nights on the hook.) In plow type primary anchors, It is Perhaps second only to the Rocna. (lb for lb) However the 15 is entirely too small! You need the Delta 35lb to have sufficient holding for that 50 knot storm in the middle of the night, or the steady 45 MPH fronts that can come through a week apart in the Winter.

Avoid anchoring on coral, grass, or hard pan. When ever you can, dive on your anchor! Having used my "viewing bucket", I was sure I was anchored in deep sand once... (Middle Bite Andros) After diving on the anchor, I realized that it was buried in a super light weight material like Vermiculite or something! It almost floated, and was NOT good holding.
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:17   #13
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I would concur with the advice to go heavier 20-25kg and/or add more chain. Caribbean winds and localised tides can be ocassionally very problematic.

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Old 12-10-2010, 17:33   #14
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I've also moved to rarely using 2 anchors in the Bahamas, preferring to have a wider swing arc instead. I agree with Vasco that in the more populated anchorages, most people only use 1 and will swing with them better if you do the same.

If anything I like my second anchor to be more robust than my primary anchor to act as my "storm anchor".
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Old 12-10-2010, 17:45   #15
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When we sailed from Chesapeake Bay, down the ICW and through the Bahamas on our Sabre 42 we had appropriately sized CQR and Danforth anchors. The Danforth was the heavier of the 2 and on all chain rode, and was used almost exclusively. The CQR was on 30 ft chain and then rope. The two anchors are quite different in design and therefore offer different grips on the bottom in different circumstances.

IMHO, the weight of the anchor is as important as its shape. All else equal, if it is easy for you to lift it off the bottom then it is easy for the weather to do so as well!
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