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Friday, January 21, 2011

1/21/2011 - This is getting to be a drag. Or is it?

4:30 AM

Geez, I'm glad I went to bed early last night because I certainly got up early this morning. Like 1:00 AM. I was sleeping when a weird sound woke me up. Couldn't identify it so I went up on deck wearing just my sleeping shorts (a pair of sweatpant shorts that I inherited from Lucas when he outgrew them at about 13). It was blowing pretty good and kinda cool-ish. I looked around, checked the anchor , looked around again and, not really seeing anything, went back to bed. I was just warming back up and starting to drift off when I heard it again. This time, being more awake, I thought it sounded like the anchor chain rubbing on the bobstay (the wire cable that runs from the end of the bowsprit down to the bow of the boat at about the waterline). I went up, this time with a t-shirt too, and checked. Sure enough, because of our angle to the anchor line, I didn't have enough chain out so the snubber could keep the chain slack. So I let enough chain out for it to go slack and figured everything was jake.

But as I'm standing there looking around I'm thinking "Are we closer to those boats over there than we were before?". Sure looked like it but it's really hard to tell sometimes. Until you've been in an anchorage where the boats move around due to current and wind, you have no idea how hard it is to tell for sure if you are in the same position relative to the other boats or not. So, I figured I'd fire up the GPS and check what it had to say. Well, it showed us way further south and way further east than I thought we should be. Was it just because I had so much rode out? Or were we dragging? Or were they dragging?

Now I figured I was going to be outside awhile so I went back below and put on long pants, slippers and a lightweight jacket. I then sat up on the bow for the longest time trying to decide if we were dragging or not. And, if we were dragging, what was I going to do about it with no engine? And is that big power boat north of us getting closer? If he was, then he was dragging, too. Or maybe, he was the only one who was dragging. Or maybe he wasn't. Geez-O-Pete! At least there was a full moon to help see by but it was still no piece of cake to figure out what was going on.

Finally, as I got closer and closer to a neighboring boat, I decided that, yes I am dragging. If I was going to deploy another anchor, I needed to do it pretty soon if I was going to have enough room to let out a decent amount of scope and still not hit the other boat.

Now, just dropping another anchor probably isn't the right thing to do. Ideally you would motor up to your anchor, pulling it in at the same time and then simply re-anchor. But, I had no motor. The next best thing would be to load a spare anchor (a "kedge") in the dinghy, and head out to where you want to drop it (the anchor is obviously still connected to the boat by it's rode). Then drop it, head back to the boat and start pulling in the slack in the kedge's rode to, hopefully, set the anchor, and then pull the boat to a less "bump-likely" position. I could have, and probably should have done just that. But, for some reason I didn't. Instead I simply dropped the spare anchor (a Bruce) and, as the boat drifted away from it, I let out scope until I had about a 4:1 ratio. Then I took in on the primary anchor and let out more scope on the secondary. Then I waited. And watched.

After awhile it looked like we might still be dragging. The GPS certainly said we were. So I played with various combinations of rode length on the two anchors and then waited and watched some more. Eventually, I spied a staionary target that confirmed we were moving south, albeit VERY slowly. The target I spied was someone's mooring ball.

Now, this gave me an idea. I've been anchored here for a week and I have yet to see a boat on that mooring ball. So, what if I were to tie up to it, at least until I get the transmission back in so I can re-anchor properly? So, I grabbed a boat hook and waited for us to drift down onto the mooring ball. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. What the heck? Are we no longer dragging?

At this point I'm not willing to take a chance. So I let out some more line on the Bruce anchor and pulled up the Rocna (primary) anchor. Now it looked like we were going to drift to the east of the ball and I didn't want to miss grabbing it. So, armed with a long line and a boathook, I jumped in the dinghy and motored over. Once there I grabbed the ball with the hook and then tied the line to it. Then I fed line out as I motored back over to the boat. Back on the foredeck, I fed the line through a hawsepipe and then started pulling it in which pulled us towards the mooring ball. The anchor is still down and apparently biting into the bottom as I can't get us all the way to the ball. But that's OK because the anchor is holding us from going south and the mooring ball won't let us go north so we're pretty nicely suspended between the two. So, now everything's cool but I'm still going topside every 10 minutes or so just to make sure.

So now, what's the deal? What's with all the dragging? Why do I seem to be the only one dragging? And, isn't the Rocna supposed to be the end-all be-all of solid holding? It's always held us great before. What the heck's going on?

Well, I have a few theories. My main theory is that I never really was dragging to start with. Not tonight and not a couple nights ago either. When I thought I was a few nights ago, it was based on looking at the GPS and seeing that I was 94' from the anchor but only had about 75' of rode out. Seems like a no brainer except: 1.) I'm not sure how much rode I had out. The 75' was based on what I thought I remembered. I didn't look at the chain markings when I started letting more out. AND, 2.) that theory was based on where I thought my anchor was. I created the anchor waypoint after we were anchored. I made an educated guess based on what the track looked like. Could I have been 20 to 30 feet off? Easily. So, it's possible that I wasn't dragging at all and letting out more rode the other night just made me even less likely to drag.

As to tonight, all that rode that I let out a couple nights ago may have come back to bite me. I originally thought I had let out 100' but, later I looked and it was actually 140'. With a depth of 5.5 meters (about 17 feet), I had a scope of 8:1. That's a lot of swinging room. I doubt that the other boats are using that much as 7:1 is considered more than enough for nylon and 5:1 for chain. So, it's conceivable that I was a lot closer to the other boats because I had a lot larger swinging radius. Once I started reeling in chain, then I probably did drag but up until then, maybe not. And I'm having a hard time trusting the GPS since it shows that we're still moving to the southwest when I can look around and know that we haven't moved at all since tying up to the mooring ball.

Right now, the current and the wind are both coming from the north. The Bruce anchor is apparently holding us just fine because the mooring ball is still south of where it's attached to the boat. If we were dragging, we'd be dragging south (the forces are from the north) and both the anchor AND the mooring ball would be north of their attachment points, not one north and one south like they are now. So the anchor is holding. Probably was all along. But you can't take chances and you have to go with the best information you've got at the time.

I bet you can guess what my first priority job is (later) today. That's right, reinstall the transmission so I can weigh anchor, cut loose of the mooring ball and re-anchor in a new spot.

What a night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


A paper chart and a hand bearing compass are still my favorite at anchor.

When you put back in your tranny tomorrow, make sure you check your shaft alignment. Can help a lot with vibration (which wears the cutlass bearing and transmission seal).