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Old 27-02-2014, 13:04   #151
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Re: Anchoring and Dragging

Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
You are a far better anchorer than I am, then, or than I was. I have dragged anchor on my own boat (or on charter boats) dozens of times, scores of times. Basically any time the wind kicked up overnight, I was sure to drag, my first years cruising.

The fault was not only the miserable CQR's. It also took some years before I really learned how to properly set an anchor -- that fact should also be laid on the table. Part of the problem was that I learned from my father, who believed very strongly in "leaving well enough alone" -- so if there was a perceptible jerk from the anchor, as far as he was concerned, it was set, and he didn't want to risk unsetting it by backing down on it too hard. It took me years to understand how wrong this was. Now, like Poiu, I mercilessly bash my anchor, just daring it to pop out. Full power for at least a couple of minutes (blows out the carbon in the engine, as a bonus) and often in different directions. After building up slowly, slowly working the anchor into the seabed with gradually increasing revs.

To this day, my father cringes when I do that ("Are you crazy? Why are you doing that? You might pull the anchor out, and then we'll have to start all over again!"), but I know now that it is the only right way. If the anchor can't withstand everything your engine can throw at it, you have no business lying to it. Better it pops out while you're testing it, than at night.

And I do all the setting and testing at reduced scope -- about 3:1. After all that is done and the anchor hasn't budged, then I let out the rest of the scope and put on a snubber. Only then is the command issued to splice the mainbrace, and not a minute before.
A great post, thanks for your honesty.

I had a running battle with the skipper of a cruising yacht on which I was the hired hand/navigator, who had EXACTLY the same philosophy of anchoring as your Dad.

He would pull on the anchor as if it were a fragile flower he was trying to tidy up.

He clearly underestimated our windage and overestimated the bollard pull (the latter was admittedly quite impressive, with a big Hundestedt 3-blader)

We eventually had the inevitable drag (my recollection is that the main anchor was a 45lb CQR on a 52' yacht with a tall rig, but it might have been a 55lb - still woefully undersized if so, but at least it was the genuine article)

We were moored stern-to in what was then a newly situated marina in Nuku'alofa (with the bottomless greasy ooze you tend to get in newly dredged basins)

The skipper was off gallivanting about town and when he arrived back I was resplicing our shore lines ... which made up for the puny anchor by being massive and high quality, but they had prettily eye-spliced ends ... and another habit of the skipper, who was the rich owner's son and heir, was to drop the eyes over the bollards ashore, which made me cringe.

Sure enough (before he got back) when a gust came from the starboard beam, probably no more than 25 knots, the puny CQR dragged with indecent alacrity. We had no breast lines, only quarter lines back to the seawall. (Another source of 'friction' between the paid hand and the skipper)

Our deep spade rudder was perilously close to grounding and it was urgent to simulate a starboard breast line. It occurred to me that I could do that by applying a bit of starboard helm and motoring ahead against the starboard quarter line, which was leading aft to the seawall. But I could only do that if the port quarter line was eased, and the skipper, not wanting to dirty up too many of our lovely docklines, had instructed his crew to use the same line for the two quarter lines, AND to drop the eyesplice over the bollard ashore for the port one.

(Aaaagh ! It makes me want to scream in frustration, even at this distance. Especially frustrating seeing the skipper had many admirable qualities; he was just one of those guys who didn't know what he didn't know, and no amount of diplomacy would compensate. The reputable designer of the boat, over twice his age whereas I was not much older, was also on board as a guest .... but his considerable and obvious wisdom was similarly discounted, if not more so)

So I sent the only other crew ashore with a sharp knife, ready to cut the port dockline, just to seaward of the splice, the moment I gave the word.

He made the mistake of touching the knife to the line while awaiting that moment, and the 24mm line stranded immediately, such was the strain.

Which was a shame, because at that moment the gust abated, and we were able to hold station without easing that line!

We set up breast lines and rowed out the big Danforth as a second bow anchor, angled up to windward.

On his return, the skipper was completely unmoved and unimpressed by our story, grumbled about losing a foot of beautiful dockline, and continued to take no heed of the need to "punish" the anchor into the bottom.

I got the boat to Suva (the minimum commitment I had made), left the boat and flew home.
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Old 27-02-2014, 13:36   #152
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Re: Anchoring and Dragging

Maine Sail wrote this (posted on our C34 Forum) a few years ago:

My assertion that 80% of boaters never actually set an anchor and get very lucky using basically a "rope on a rock" seems more true than ever.

Last summer on a friends boat he left me at the helm while he went to drop his CQR. I backed down, like I always do, gradually increasing to 80% throttle and the anchor dragged!

Here's how the conversation went "Geez that's never happened before","Really? Lets try it again",.

On the second attempt it had an initial bite (starting to burry) but when I applied power it broke free. "Your giving it to much throttle and ripping it out of the bottom", "it's an anchor!", "let me try", "ok".

So I now go up to let the anchor down & he puts the boat in reverse gets it moving and then puts it in neutral and we get an initial bite. "There see it's set", "No it's just starting to dig in it now needs to be set", "It's always held me before", "Have you ever experienced a 30 knot blow on the hook?", "No" "Well a 30 knot blow on your boat is the equivalent of roughly 900 pounds of pull on the anchor did you know that?", "No", "Did you know that the motor on this boat can barely re-produce 350 pounds of pull wide open?" "No", "Well let's let it set your way and in a couple of hours we'll simulate 20 knots of wind with the motor and see and happens", "You're on". You can probably guess what happened. Because we never properly set the anchor it dragged! We did get it to set that day using a 10:1 scope then shortening to 5:1. My friend could not beleive that the CQR could hold his boat using 80% throttle and was totally surprised by it! Scary I know.... From my experience I find a CQR likes a minimum of a 7:1 to set but it sometimes prefers more..

He now understands that an anchor should hold your boat at wide open in reverse without moving. This is a guy who has been sailing for 25 years and admittedly dragged "perhaps 20 times but never with my CQR"! Once is to much! It's imperative the anchor gets "set" properly. Yes the CQR sets better in soft bottoms than in sand but not all boaters are lucky enough to always drop the hook in a soft bottom. So if you're in a hard bottom make sure to get it set. The CQR will set well but it may take more than one attempt. Don't ever be fooled by the "initial bite". With a CQR this is a situation where the anchor is laying on it's side with the tip just starting to dig in. Like the picture at the beginning of Sail Magazines article. If you stop there on any sort of wind or current shift the anchor will twist out. A CQR needs to be vertical and buried to the shank or it's not properly set. If it's properly buried it can sometimes survive a 180 shift without "breaking free". I suggest some of you begin diving on your anchors in a shallow spot to see what's going on down there I think you'd be surprised...
Stu Jackson
Catalina 34 #224 (1986) C34IA Secretary
Cowichan Bay, BC, (Maple Bay Marina) SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)
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Old 27-02-2014, 13:39   #153
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Re: Anchoring and Dragging

I was thinking about dragging (on other peoples' boats, naturellement <wink>)

and a thought popped in to my head which left me rather hilarious, given what has just been written on the other thread, about unattended anchoring: namely that if the OP were to leave his boat on a single anchor for a week (provided it was a good anchor, well dug in) he could rely on finding it where he left it.

And another reason to be hilarious was reflecting on the conventional wisdom: Just as Rolls Royce axles never break, "NewGen anchors never drag".

Well, let me tell you a story about that.

- - -

The last time I recall being on a boat which had recently dragged was when I was sailing with the (justifiably) highly regarded designer of one of the gold-standard NewGen anchors. This guy is a legend as a sailor.

He had anchored his own boat, with the very first example of the now ubiquitous anchor, (which he'd built with his own hands) with his customary skill and care. The boat was big and heavy. The anchor was BIG and HEAVY.

Until making his acquaintance, I had mistakenly thought it was probably me who was the fussiest bastard on this earth, when it came to anchoring.

We went ashore to explore the highlands on foot - we wound our way up to some historic timber dams, and it was engrossing.

When we got back to the yacht, not even six hours later, it was not where we had left it.
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Old 27-02-2014, 13:59   #154
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Re: Anchoring and Dragging

Thanks, Stu for posting that great piece by Maine Sail.

I can't shake the feeling that we have been persuaded (by a lifetime of being marketed to) that convenience trumps everything, and nobody could accuse old-school anchors of being convenient.

So here's a riff on convenience trumping utility:

Recent research suggests that (contrary to previous advice) milk is good for us. Our grandmas were right!

However this may not be so true for homogenised milk, because it seems the reduction in size of the fat globules, intended to nullify their buoyancy, means they pass through our membranes and get to places we would be better off if they did not to get to.

And it struck me that many people probably don't find it a huge imposition on their time to waggle the milk bottle before pouring, in fact, it opens up choices (eg you can pour off and reserve the cream, and serve low fat milk to those members of the family who prefer it)

.... and yet, instead of being a minority option for those who DO value the convenience, and don't care about their choices being constricted, homogenised milk quickly became the de facto standard. I find it quite striking that a very small gain in convenience could convincingly triumph over significant questions of utility and choice.

And somehow the health implications seem a wry reminder that dicking with things which are not broken can bite us in the bum ...
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Old 28-02-2014, 16:18   #155
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Re: Anchoring and Dragging

I remember watching the skipper of a very large charter cat attempting to dig in his anchor by full throttling both engines before even giving it a chance to dig in, with a huge jolt eventually an both bows dipping considerably!

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Old 28-02-2014, 16:26   #156
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Re: Anchoring and Dragging

I always put the eye spice over the bollard. Always tie the boat to the dock, not the dock to the boat. look at ships. I agree re over using a single line


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anchor, anchoring

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