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Old 12-08-2009, 10:46 AM   #1
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What do you check when anchoring in a storm condition, and how often?

And I want to thank Redbopeep for the online reporting of the San Diego storm, it has been enlightening.
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Old 12-08-2009, 11:10 AM   #2
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What do you check when anchoring in a storm condition, and how often?
Magwas, this is one those questions that do not have a single answer :- It DEPENDS, on the type of anchorage, what is the holding like, Is the ground tackle prepared, where is the lee shore relative to the boat, what type of storm, has the crew been prepared, will the boat be able to leave the anchorage under sail, is the engine capable of taking the boat to a different location. etc etc ....
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:05 PM   #3
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There are two things one should ALWAYS check:

1. is my anchor holding or am I dragging?

2. is any other vessel dragging towards me?

In the first case, if you are dragging or suspect that you soon will be then take compensatory action which could include veering more cable, rigging a chum, easing the strain by going ahead on the engiine, letting go another anchor.

In the second scenario you need to assertain if the vessel drifting towards you is aware of the fact and can take avoiding action. If not, do all YOU can to avoid a collission or ground tackle foul. Even though it is not your fault, avoiding an issue can be much simpler than a court case.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:08 PM   #4
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I want to add to the replies of MMNETSEA and Nausikaa the following:

If you the water temperature and clarity allows always snorkel and check your anchors as well as your neighbors' anchors.
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:54 PM   #5
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There are two things one should ALWAYS check:

1. is my anchor holding or am I dragging?

2. is any other vessel dragging towards me?

In the first case, if you are dragging or suspect that you soon will be then take compensatory action which could include veering more cable, rigging a chum, easing the strain by going ahead on the engiine, letting go another anchor.

In the second scenario you need to assertain if the vessel drifting towards you is aware of the fact and can take avoiding action. If not, do all YOU can to avoid a collission or ground tackle foul. Even though it is not your fault, avoiding an issue can be much simpler than a court case.

Aye // Stephen
In our tiny anchorage, first because we were only 600 ft from a lee shore and later because we were upwind of another boat and swinging within 10-15 ft of them...we were on constant and active anchor watch from 11:00 am yesterday until 4:00 am today. For us, that meant literally scanning the surroundings at all times. We have a charthouse (like a low pilothouse) so we could sit there most of the time and see all around w/o being out in the cockpit. Other boaters in our anchorage sat in their cockpits for many hours yesterday. We pass anchor watch duties just like we "pass the helm" with active verbal communication each time. David had watch during much of yesterday with me relieving him and I had watch last night until I deemed it "normal" at 4 am and went to bed. David got up at 8:00 and sits in the chart house reading now, but we have no expectation of problems today as it is quite calm.

We were very lucky to be anchored where no one was upwind of us. We re-anchored our boat a few days prior to the storm based on the NOAA weather reports. We did it to get this "prime" spot for the expected winds (we are at a corner of the anchorage, btw). So we saw many boats go by but we were not in danger of them fouling our anchor. We were at least 500 ft closer to the lee shore than we would have been had we chosen other spots but we had more faith in our ground tackle than in the other boats in the anchorage.

Three times yesterday, we started the engine to be ready to relieve the load on the anchor chain--one or the other of us stood at the helm for maybe 15 minutes two of those times without engaging the engine, 1/2 hour the other time that we did actually engage the engine. The first time was the "big wind" event and having the engine to keep the load off the anchor probably helped keep us anchored rather than dragging.

In "normal" times, our anchor watch is simply to check the surroundings every 15 minutes, 30 minutes or 1 hour depending on the situation. Anchoring in port and less than 7 knots, we only check the anchor every 4 hours or so and it is informal.

Hope that is helpful
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:37 PM   #6
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The first time was the "big wind" event and having the engine to keep the load off the anchor probably helped keep us anchored rather than dragging.

Oh totally agree about having the engine running to ease strain!

We had been hammered but 50kt plus westerlies for two days coming our of Darwin. Our home at the time was our little 21' sloop with a 10hp sail drive. Tides are so strong in Vernan Gulf it took us 3 days to clear the area in 6 hour mad dashes to put the pick down again, wait 6 hours and then repeat the process. Tired and frazzled we anchored close to the beach on the eastern end of Melville Island for added shelter. Yes - sure enough, 2am the winds turned completely around and we found ourselves hanging off 60m of chain almost horizontal There was nothing we could do apart from having the motor running in low revs forward to keep some stress off the chain and try and keep our bow into the wind and waves that were breaking 2' over our dodger. We were ready to abandon our little home - convinced that we would be up on the beach and spent the night hanging on in the cockpit with everything ready to take to the water. Just before daybreak the winds died.

Anchoring for us now follows the following rules and we take our time on first anchoring to ask ourselves:

What is the weather doing?

Can we swing 360' in safety?

What is our escape route if things go turtle?

Are we far enough away from either shore or bommie to allow the anchor to swing and then reset itself?

If we do drag, do we have enough room to retrieve and relay?

Are we at risk if other vessels drag and if so, how will we handle that?

Upon touching the bottom with our anchor we back slowly and try and lay our chain cleanly back and then make sure we dig it in deep and hard. If we can't dig it in, we do it again or move. We drop as much chain as possible - no matter how shallow the depth.

We dive the anchor when ever we can (well to be honest, my wife dives the anchor - she's a better swimmer than I )

We always use an anchor-buddy which consists of a loop of 10mm chain inside a hose from which is suspended a 20lb lead weight. This is then hooked around and lowered down the anchor chain by its own line which is then secured around our sampson post. The snubber then goes over top of that.

Previously, we had never really thought about suspending a weight half way down our chain to keep it as close to horizontal to the bottom to try and lessen the chances of the anchor jarring loose. But boy does it work a treat!

A couple of months back in Uraparapara - a blown out volcano in northern Vanuatua we anchored along with 6 other yachts deep inside the cauldron just off the small fringing reef outside the village. Sure enough - like all best plans, the winds changed and thundered though the narrow gap in the volcano wall straight down onto us.

Reading that shout bought back for us all the horror of being exposed with no where to go.

As it was, everyone dragged apart from Mico and I think we only just escaped the same fate because we had 70m of chain out in 3m of water, our anchor buddy out and our engine running in forward. Had we dragged we were stuffed anyway because our anchor winch decided to have a major seizure only minutes after we had first dug in and there was no way known on this earth we were going to be able to haul it by hand in the blow that caught us all.

We are still making stupid mistakes but we hope we're gradually learning about trying to increase our chances of staying put in a blow

Thanks for the great shout and so glad you guys are ok

Fair winds

Uraparapara pics:

Storm_2.jpg

Storm_1.jpg

.
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:53 PM   #7
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We were anchored in 60 ft off Marina Taina in Tahiti, four months ago, when the wind began to howl! It was early evening and I was ashore and my wife & son were preparing dinner aboard Gallivanter.

I quaffed my beer, jumped into our dink and raced back out to the anchorage! It was a mess and boats were dragging... including us! Cath had already started the engine and had my foul weather jacket in the cockpit by the time I arrived. My cockpit instruments showed it was blowing 40 knotts and the sky was turning real dark, real fast!

The anchorage was crowded with over a hundred cruising, charter, private & delelict vessels and a lot of them were in trouble. Our first reaction was to pay-out more anchor to increase scope, which solved (according to our chart plotter) our dragging... but this placed us in a very tight situation as we were now right between two catamarans which were swinging on a wide enough arc to cause more than a little concern. But their crews were aboard and everyone was doing their best to get a grip on the situation and the bottom. Boats were dragging all around us! Yikes! The VHF airwaves were crowded with people calling for help in countless languages!

The wind calmed down to around 25 knots and conditions seemed to improve... but when I switched on our radar I could see another big wave of rainsquall coming! I asked my wife to turn on our navigation lights and our foredeck light and watched in fear as the first traces of rain returned. This time the wind was gusting to 50 knots. With the enging in gear I steered the boat to avoid closs encounters with my neighbors but it became apparent that weather conditions were getting worse as more vessels were dragging our way. We were holding - but our neighbors weren't.

So - I made a difficult decision and asked my wife to go to the foredeck. We needed to raise anchor and seek a safer spot to ride-out this tempest. I knew it was a dangerous move but it was clear that we would be in big trouble if we stayed where we were. I asked her to be very careful and just leave the hook hanging off the bow, as we'll be putting it back down soon. She did a great job.

When she returned to the cockpit I turned the deck light off and, using radar, the cockpit chart plotter. depth sounder and all our senses to maneuver the boat out into the open channel. I'm talking full throttle and the wheel going stop-to-stop maneuvering because the gusts were so strong I needed full power and rudder to keep from getting broad to the wind and blown back down into the chaos we'd just left behind us.

We'd left a mooring on the opposite side of the channel two days earlier and the track was still on display on the plotter. The moorings were all upwind and all moored vessels seemed to be holding well. When we were just downwind from the first line of moorings - I asked Cath to go forward again and lower the anchor and to be safe about it because I knew things could get dicy if the wind grabbed us and threw our bow off while the anchor was making initial contact with the bottom. I asked her to put out all of our chain and rope until the last marker - 300 ft of rode in 50 ft of water. We'd never needed to put out that much before!

When she returned to the cockpit - drenched in rain & seawater, I began to ease-off the throttle and wheel and slowly set the hook. Finally, after a few surges, slips & slides the hook grabbed and held us through the night. We were now anchored right in the middle of the commercial channel with foredeck, afterdeck & anchor lights on and a kerosene storm lantern glowing in the rigging. But we were well dug-in and nobody was going to be going anywhere that night. I knew it was illegal to be anchored where we were but it was the safest place to be under the extreme circumstances.

Our chart plotter, zoomed in close, provided assurance that we were not dragging and we kept the boat well lit and a look-out posted throughout the night.

There were five distinct waves of high wind and rain between 6:00 PM and 3:00AM that night. Behind us were collisions and groundings and sails torn to threads throughout the ordeal.

At dawn I counted at least four boats aground and one sunk. My wind instrument recorded a max gust of 59 knots. We only sustained dammage to our nerves.

If you were to stand in the back of a four wheel drive pick-up, and drive offroad at 65 mph, in the rain, at night, while trying to lasso a rhino - you'll get a fair idea of what we were dealing with that night.

Lessons learned? Increasing our anchor scope stopped us from dragging... but we were still anchored in a dangerous situation. Motoring may have reduced some of the strain on our ground tackle but it also increased our side-to-side movement which sometimes presented the wind a much greater surface to grab and I believe it would be impossible to maintain such a stressful steering technique for long. At times we were at the mercy of the wind and may have been subjecting our anchor to heavier loads. Our powerful, electric anchor windlass is what saved our *** that night. And the decision to move and anchor in the open channel was definitely the right thing to do... even though anchoring in the channel was against the local law... nobody said anything about it before we departed, three days later. It's something I'd prefer to not have to go through again.

But I did learn a few things by doing it.

To Life!

Kirk
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Old 12-10-2009, 04:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
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...

The anchorage was crowded with over a hundred cruising, charter, private & derelict vessels and a lot of them were in trouble. Our first reaction was to pay-out more anchor to increase scope, which solved (according to our chart plotter) our dragging... but this placed us in a very tight situation as we were now right between two catamarans which were swinging on a wide enough arc to cause more than a little concern. ...

... but it became apparent that weather conditions were getting worse as more vessels were dragging our way. We were holding - but our neighbors weren't.
That is the problem!

To be able to anchor also in tidal waters with currents up to 4 knots we carry a rather over sized gear with 50m of 8mm chain and a *main 35lb CQR on a boat of 32ft and 5,2 metric tonnes and with that we never really faced the problem of dragging yet (except on the poor grounds of the anchorage in La Coruna/Spain). With this gear we even weathered a 50kn Levante that lasted two days in a lagoon of Sancti Petri (south of Cadiz,Spain), with changing tidal streams from abeam. But we were alone, because all other yachts left for the marinas.

Dropping the anchor on a more or less crowded anchorage creates the problem. Anchoring in company is nice, as long as the conditions are favorable and stable. But as soon as the wind picks up and you give chain, or if the wind direction changes, you pretty soon end up very close to your neighbor... and you have to leave when you were the last one who dropped the hook.*

Some others don't give chain or rope or they use a too small anchor and go adrift. Lucky, if they just pass by and - nerve wrecking - *if they raise anchor, go back to windward and try it again right ahead of you. Also nerve wrecking, if you are in the way and you have to start working with fenders and all that. And maybe they pull out your hook as they pass by.*

So, most time we don't hesitate long - we leave early and find a more remote place a little outside the main anchorage or we avoid it right from the beginning, when the weather is not perfectly stable.

So, our strategy is to use the more remote anchorages, use a lot of chain and a rather heavy hook.

Uwe

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Old 12-10-2009, 04:33 PM   #9
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... even though anchoring in the channel was against the local law... nobody said anything about it before we departed, three days later. It's something I'd prefer to not have to go through again.
I assume you moved back to a legal position by the time conditions improved. I would have done the same thing. I doubt anybody wants to come out in those conditions to tell you to move.

I have used the "Nobody wants to come over here and stop me in these conditions" theory to do a lot of interesting things. Kayaking to Black's Beach and spending the night, for example. If telling you not to do something is, say, 10 times worse than doing something else, most authorities will pretend to not see you.

Thanks for the story.
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Old 12-10-2009, 04:43 PM   #10
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So, most time we don't hesitate long - we leave early and find a more remote place a little outside the main anchorage or we avoid it right from the beginning, when the weather is not perfectly stable.

So, our strategy is to use the more remote anchorages, use a lot of chain and a rather heavy hook.

Uwe

SY Aquaria
Agree with you in general! Stay away from crowds However, here on the west coast of California, anchorages are few and they are often crowded. Most cruisers are going to places with more choices than here of course. In our bay which is also a major harbor, all the "best" anchorages have been taken up by large mooring fields for permanent non-cruising boats. The few places where one is allowed to anchor are small and anchoring is by permit. There is also one very large but fairly shallow (10 ft to 15 ft deep waters) open area of the bay which would be our emergency place to go and anchor if things got too tight in a permitted anchorage. That area is unprotected but large enough that you could drag for over 1 mile north and south and 1/2 mile east and west without getting close to danger in any direction if you happened to anchor in the middle of it. No anchoring is officially allowed there but people go drop the hook during the day and fish, etc. If you grounded, it would be a soft grounding on a sandbar whereas all around the "official" anchorages there are numerous rocky embankments which tear up boats.

We are not "cruising" rather we are outfitting our boat and testing it after its rebuild. We're rather tied to this geographic location for resources until we've worked out the kinks. Most cruisers, luckily, have already worked out the kinks--and they can just move on to a better place if they are in an unsuitable anchorage area.

Fair winds,
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Old 12-11-2009, 05:53 AM   #11
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Jordan says that anchoring from stern is better in high winds, because it slings the boat less, so less strain on the hook.

Any first hand experience on this?
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Old 12-11-2009, 06:06 AM   #12
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Jordan says that anchoring from stern is better in high winds, because it slings the boat less, so less strain on the hook.

Any first hand experience on this?
I understand where this is coming from but don't think I would like to do it. Most boats with rollerfurling headsails will want to lie head down wind if left to their own devices and as a result will want to dance around the anchor in a blow. I think a better fix would be a bit of sail well aft sheeted in hard... difficult to achieve unless you have a yawl.
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Old 12-11-2009, 02:30 PM   #13
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Jordan says that anchoring from stern is better in high winds, because it slings the boat less, so less strain on the hook.

Any first hand experience on this?
Never thought of that.

But for a couple reasons this would not come to my mind.

1. On a traditional aft cockpit yacht the cockpit is well sheltered and under the spray hood is a good place to be during an anchor watch even under windy and rainy conditions.*

2. This same spray hood is not the aerodynamic best thing to have on deck with wind from astern when at anchor.*

3. What happens when a swell of let's say 2ft (or or more) developes with the stern to the sea?

Uwe

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Old 09-29-2012, 12:10 PM   #14
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If bad weather is approaching, especially in an area of strong ebb tides I use 2 anchors. My main, a Delta is connected to a Danfort by a 4 meter chain. One after the other. I drop the Danfort first and then lower the Delta. From my experience I have never dragged in any sort of conditions. Scope is important but with the two anchors in line I find that I can reduce scope and still insure a perfect holding. This is important to reduce swing in tight moorings. One important point: my advise is to never use 2 anchors in the V shape. If the chains become twisted and entangled it is very difficult to retrieve the anchors. With the anchors on line I get the Delta in by windlass and then by hand I take the Danfort in. In emergencies if you need to move fast it is a good, fast way to get the job done.
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