. . . we thank God with our whole hearts!
Our last night on the water before returning home yesterday was in the location where we have consistently had difficulty getting an anchor to set. The bottom is so soft, and the soft muck so deep, that it’s like trying to set an anchor in Kleenex.
Up Mill Creek in Solomons Island there are many beautiful anchorages surrounded by lovely homes and gorgeous boats. The entire waterway is a sight-seer’s paradise, but we always have anxieties when we anchor anywhere in this long, winding creek or any of its branches. Let me just say now, that we we’ve never dragged. No, that hasn’t been the problem. Our problem is always getting a “feel-good” about the anchor set. We’ve tried as many as four times for one set, then been nervous all night that we would drag. In the past, we’ve never had weather that truly tested the set. Monday night was a different story.
I deployed the primary anchor, and we took the set very gradually. We probably took ten minutes to deploy and back down on it, gradually increasing the engine rpm to 2500 in reverse. We deployed the second anchor 90 degrees to starboard of the first, paying out lots of scope for both, allowing the second anchor to hang by itself, gradually backing down on it up to 2500 rpm as well. Then I balanced the length of the rodes so that each would pull evenly.
What happens after deploying two hooks is that the boat oscillates, swinging from one rode to the other. There is still a doubled safety factor, as it is much more likely that one hook will hold if the other drags, each one acting as backup for the other. However, I do not get the effect of two evenly holding hooks because with my current gear, I cannot shackle the rodes together and pull from both concurrently. I am going to look into this, though, as it seems to me that pulling on both anchors with the same force would offer more security at anchor.
However, Monday night I was confident with the set of both anchors. . . until midnight when a series of lines squalls blew through the area. In minutes, the wind had gusted to at least 40 mph and was exerting much, much more force on the ground tackle. I went on deck and secured the bimini, tied off a couple of halyards that were slapping, then watched the motion of the boat and carefully noted our location in the anchorage, visually measuring against fixed points on land. All seemed secured. Throughout the storm I rose and checked our position, and was assured each time that we were holding our own. Finally the squall abated, and I went soundly to sleep, rising about 0700. In the morning light, I noted that our position was perhaps 30 feet down-wind of where we had anchored, so we did indeed pull through the anchor set, but not by much. Both anchors were still holding, though the lines were nearly parallel now – separated by perhaps 20 degrees instead of 90. Had the storm lasted all night, we might have been in trouble, eventually dragging down onto a bulkhead, pier, or undeveloped part of the shore. But we were okay. It’s worth noting that the strong winds died off after a couple of hours, but the breeze never failed completely: we still had 8-10 mph in the morning, and the hooks were holding fine.
For our ground tackle I have two 13 lb Danforth anchors with 20-foot chain leaders and 100-foot half-inch line. My second anchor stows in the cockpit locker, and it’s rode stows beside it in a canvas bag. The primary anchor stows on an anchor platform with the rode stowed in the chain locker below. It is possible that 10 – 30 more feet of chain (total of 50 feet) would improve holding on the primary rode, and I’ve given that a fair amount of thought. This is impractical with the secondary anchor due to the stowage and transport from stern to bow. It’s awkward enough with only 20 feet of chain due to its weight. 50 feet of chain would be unmanageable unless I reconfigured the stowage to launch from the stern. This would involve creating another chain locker in the transom, installing another hawse-pipe and thinking through a launch-and-retrieval system for the hook. It is also probable that a different kind of anchor would be more effective than the Danforth, although these anchors are often praised for their ability to hold in soft mud.
Finally, I need to develop a means to shackle both rodes together at a single point, then attach a snubber to that point and lead it to the bow cleat through port and starboard chocks. The challenge is to develop a system that is quickly deployable, quickly retrievable, and completely secure. Sounds like a study in knot tying is in the future for me.
Please feel free to comment on any ideas you have about deploying two anchors on three-strand rode, shackling together, and leading a snubber to the bow.