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Old 11-04-2010, 12:54   #1
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Use a Snubber Line when Anchoring

Good anchor gear, good sails.

Gale warning. We picked up a mooring in Echo Bay, Sucia Island at the north end of the San Juan islands on Sunday evening Mar 28 before the big winds. This location proved to be bad mistake on my part as the wind came directly into the bay from Orcas Island and Rosario Strait. Thirty knots of wind and the mooring attachment broke.

Up on deck we were almost on the rocks, engine on and no time to power into the wind. Backing up at full throttle like a sport fisher with a sailfish on we encountered the stringy end of a crab pot. Coming into the bay we saw the place dotted with the pesky floats everywhere not in evidence in the summertime.

In forward the engine did vibrate yet still made revolutions which enabled us to barely head into the wind. I knew that we could sail out, even with the wind pushing thirty, yet we could not make it out of the bay with sufficient angle to clear the land. Found a spot off the side of one island at the inlet to the bay allowing an anchor to be dropped in 63 ft on a flood tide and just enough room from the rocky side of the island to swing, if the wind should shift.

Now the wind is 38 knots continuous. The waves got larger and larger without getting further apart. The bow would dive into a trough and the white top of the wave would break over the pulpit shoving the boat over. Immediately another wave hit the side of the boat shoving her to the side at 90 degrees to the wind. The moon was almost full creating some light behind the clouds so that I could see a notch in the tree line of the island when fully shoved to the side by the wind and waves. The snubber line and rode pulled the boat back into the wind and the whole process would repeat on the other “tack”. Kept noting the location of that notch in the tree line to see if the rode parted or if the anchor was dragging. Couldn’t believe that the 7/16 inch, 25 ft snubber line attached to the 9/16 rode did not part. The snubber thimble is shackled to a stainless U-bolt backed up through the stem of the boat and presented no opportunity for chaffe. The ½ inch S/S U-bolt was strapped athwartships with S/S to keep side thrust from allowing movement in the stem. This was the savior along with the CQR well set on the end of 80 ft of 3/8 chain. Almost 300 ft of nylon allowed the stretch so that when the waves hit there was no shock to the gear. At first this does not seem to be enough scope yet the anchor hooked well. No shackles are in the gear, only a stout S/S swivel between the chain and anchor. A “crown knot” attached the rode the rode to the chain in the last link of chain (as per Brion Toss’s instructions in Riggers Apprentice).

Tide running in with the wind and waves made a few growling large breaking waves that passed under the hull with a loud sound over that of the wind in the rigging causing the adrenalin level to soar. What would I do if/when the snubber or rode parted? Didn’t have to find out.

Was so nice to see 25-30 kts of wind so that the waves lessened and the loud ones disappeared. At 20-25 kts we went below and I started the heater to warm us up and we slept. At daybreak I woke up to a calm and new that we had to get out of there as the wind warning was still valid. Winched up the rode to disconnect the snubber line. Had to use a ball-peen hammer to beat the crossover loop of the Prussic hitch in order to loosen the snubber from the rode. That, in conjunction with hard working of a marlinespike, finally released the hitch from the rode. No significant chaffe on the rode where the hitch attached. Up anchor, lots of mud on. Lucky that it did not drag on what is rocky bottom in most of that area.

Clearing the island the wind returned and we raised that wonderful Hasse main along with a Schattauer roach-battened stays’l. Tacked down Rosario Strait headed towards Anecortes where we could have the prop cleared. The water temperature is 44 deg. F and not something that could be tolerated without a good dive suit.

The boat did not make normal speed with whatever gobbed up the prop yet we were able to make good tacking along with the angle formed by the Windex without loosing drive. The main only needed one reef with judicious use of the vang and Cunningham. Those battens are great! I’ve been repeatedly thankful for the nice design and construction done by Hasse and company, knowing how each individual who worked on it played a significant part in making such a wonderfully performing sail. Similarly those folks at Schattaur know how to make a bullet-proof sail!

After clearing the prop in Anecortes we were able to leave the next day and sail home. Because of time and tide we motorsailed into the wind when entering Puget Sound, falling off whenever opportunity allowed. Using the control lines on the long Harken traveler we were able to adjust the main so that it would not flog when going directly into the wind, thanks to being able to flatten the sail and those battens! Who wants to go back on deck to raise/drop the main unnecessarily with the fluky wind directions encountered in this area? Just keep her up and keep going!

Rick Young
"I don't think there'll be a return journey Mr. Frodo". Samwise Gamgee
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Old 12-04-2010, 08:48   #2
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Thank you for posting that story and glad you are OK.

This is what one of the docklines that passed through our mooring buoy while hunkered down in Sequim looked like after the same gale! Luckily we always use two and were checking on it so we were able to thread a few more.
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:39   #3
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Originally Posted by Rick View Post
Good anchor gear, good sails.

The snubber thimble is shackled to a stainless U-bolt backed up through the stem of the boat and presented no opportunity for chaffe. The ½ inch S/S U-bolt was strapped athwartships with S/S to keep side thrust from allowing movement in the stem.
Can you explain this setup via a drawing or etc? I basically use a similar setup with chain and nylon line and a snubber using a bridle tied to the rode with a prusik knot. I have 80 ft of 3/8 BBB chain with 5/8 inch 3 strand spliced into the last link with a eye splice(no insert) rather than the back splice that you're using. Not much difference in the two except that I thought that keeping the 3 strand in tact through the end link might be more resistance to chafe vs the need to seperate the strands when doing the back splice. The bridle is 1/2 inch double braid and attaches to the boat through the starboard and port hawse and then to forward deck cleats. I could lead the snubber to the sampson post, but this would put about a 90 degree angle on the line and I want a fair a lead as possible to avoid chafe. Great information BTW!
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:02   #4
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Rick's dock line snubber pictured here
Docklines with snubbers - Dockline assembly with Dacron snubbers through fairlead and on dock cleat, rubber snubber on nylon. Cruisers & Sailing Photo Gallery
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anchor, anchoring

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