Originally Posted by Dockhead
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)
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.