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Old 06-27-2010, 04:16 PM   #1
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This river achoring thread brought up my question:

What would you recommend to read if I want to learn anchoring?

I think I would better like anchoring in nice bays than mooring in crowded marinas. However I would like to have some idea about it before trying. The closest shore is the Croatian one, and it is too rocky to learn it in the trial and error way

My all anhoring experience is the following:

I am doing my daysailer certificate right now. I could have choosen the Croatian 3 mile one, which is basically a "you pay, and get a cert" type, but I have choosen the hungarian 12 mile one, because it is said to be similar to RYA daysailer, and I do want to learn. I am through the theory classes and the written exam (also interesting if you like horror stories), and came the week (actually 10 days) of sailing experience.

In the preparatory meeting the instructor said something like "Well, everyone knows that 500 miles in 10 days is _impossible_. We have sorted it out with the naval office, so you will get your training "

Ehh? 500 miles in 10 days is 50 miles daily. With 5 knots it is 10 hours a day. There should be very light winds down there...

Well, considering that the boat did not have a spinakker, there were indeed very light winds. But considering that it neither had a trysail, just a genoa and a main - both rolling - the winds were heavy at times.

This was not a problem, as we spent all but one of the nights in marinas, and a considerable part of the days motoring...

I still could not avoid gaining some anchoring experience. One night we have arrived a bay where all the places of the marina was occupied. The anchoring place has been also crowded. The instructor asked for the sounding (3m + 2 for the boat. I made a quick computation in my head; 5x5 is 25, which means at least 5 signs on the chain, or 7 if possible.) The instructor dropped the anchor some ten meters to a small red buoy. 1, 2, 3, 4 signs. I backed the boat with motor slowly, seeing the skipper of the neighbouring sailboat emerging to deck, and looking at us very suspicously. He has shouted something, I believe the length of his own chain. maybe 35. Meanwhile I recognized the small red buoy. It must be the other boat's anchor. There was a small motorboat behind us.

There was a nice night. It was a well protected bay. Navtex said something about good winds for the night, but we will stay here and motor tomorrow. And Ballast, my roommate is snoring badly. So I went to sleep to the tender. In the night some wind indeed came. Nothing serious, maybe 10 knots in that good protection. I felt the boat - and the tender with it - swinging, and heard the chain in the bow chamber. I checked our position, and slept back. Sometimes at two in the morning the tender bumped on something. Whadafak? I looked up. Okay, its just this small boat behind us. I went down to sleep. Maybe the instructor heard me, because in ten minutes I found myself ragged myself about sleeping in the tender, and the other guy got another for sleeping on top of the anchor chamber. So I figured we are dragging.

I tried to spot a good place to reanchor. Somewhere near the other sailboat, maybe some ten meters back. The instructor pointed to that location, so I manoeuvered the boat to that direction. He pulled anchor, and tol me to a point ten meters right, some twenty meters above a huge fishing vessel standing on a buoy. He should know better, so I put the boat there. He dropped it, and shortly we have found orselves busy avoiding banging to the fishing vessel. I suggested that I could drive the boat until dawn, there should be some perfect winds out there. Another reanchoring, this time to the point I have spotted in the beginning.

In the morning I have asked the instructor about anchoring from the back, to avoid swinging and dragging. I have made a passing note about differences between bermuda rigged and tall ships, and made a half-joke that I have a big towel which could be fixed between the boom and the topping lift to prevent swinging. The instructor said that anchoring from aft is done only on the Caribbean to have wind cool the cabin. And noted my earth-shaking idea about the jury rigged mizzen in the log.

(I was the star of the logbook anyway. A disobedient swimming (heck, we were crawling at 4 knots in 40C, and at the worst we would at least had a MOB drill , this sail idea, and that I picked up the instructor's glasses from the bottom at a marina.)

So how will I learn anchoring?
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Old 06-28-2010, 03:43 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magwas' date='27 June 2010 - 11:16 PM View Post

This river achoring thread brought up my question:

What would you recommend to read if I want to learn anchoring?

I think I would better like anchoring in nice bays than mooring in crowded marinas. However I would like to have some idea about it before trying. The closest shore is the Croatian one, and it is too rocky to learn it in the trial and error way

So how will I learn anchoring?
There are a some basic knowledge requirements before dropping and setting an anchor anywhere.

Not in any specific order :-

Offshore Onshore winds (the diurnal winds along a coastline) here is a link C L I C K

Tidal waters, ebb and flood effect. Tide tables.

Reading and understanding the composition of the ground from chart description.

The type of anchor to use for specific types of ground and condition - a good article H E R E

Apart the above, it is necessary to know the boat's characteristics in terms of how it handles when dropping and setting the anchor - how much power is required from the engine etc.

What hazards exist in the anchorage? If other boats are already anchored, where to anchor your boat?

Then once the anchor is set satisfactorily, Transit bearings should be taken in order to know if the boat is dragging its anchor.

The above only covers a small amount of knowledge and experience required to anchor a boat safely and satisfactorily.
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Old 06-28-2010, 06:22 PM   #3
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Thank you for your suggestions.

I have also made my homework. I have found the following articles helpful:

http://www.commanderbob.com/art40.html

http://www.anchorbuddy.co.nz/anchoring.html

http://www.usps.org/ventura/art-03-1...gmadeeasy.html

I have also studied opencpn's documentation on how to set an anchor mark, and the documentation of the sounder on how to set sounding alarms.

Now I have an idea on how to choose anchor and on the anchoring procedure. I have some questions though:

Would be meaningful to anchor from astern to minimise swing?

In the Croatian coasts there are some tempting underwater rocks (not unlike this one, but there are also ones not in shipping channels and with less depth, not shown on this map).

Let's assume the forecast does not predict high winds or waves. Would it be safe to anchor on such rocks, and what extra considerations apply?
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:28 PM   #4
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So you like open roadstead anchoring, huh?

We try to position ourselves in a cove or at least a bight (little indentation of the shoreline) that offers some protection from prevailing winds and waves. I suppose if one is in the middle of the ocean and the best one can do is anchor atop an underwater uprising, that is what one would do. But, when surrounded by actual land, what is the purpose of anchoring atop such an uprising (rock)? I would find it tricky and don't quite understand the reason. I know I'm missing something here...
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Old 06-28-2010, 10:15 PM   #5
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Magwas, thank you for this topic. I would guess that anchoring is one of the most popular topics of conversation when a bunch of cruisers get together. Usually it's about "that other boat's" embarrassments and mistakes. At least in my experience, though, every boat's anchor drags at least once. Not to mention some of the more peculiar problems.

Those are good links, and give you good hints on dropping and setting your anchor. It is experience though, that

I do not recommend anchoring from the stern as a regular procedure. Some boats sail at anchor and move a lot, but not all boats can be anchored successfully from the stern. If you engine should not start, stern anchoring will make it very difficult for you to sail off your anchor, for one reason not to do it. The other reason is that all boats swing at anchor. Due to current or wind shifts, you want your boat to swing in the same way and direction as the other boats anchored around you.

Many's the complaint we heard about boats who anchor with primarily nylon rode with just a short section of chain (from 5 to 12 meters, for example). The complaints were lodged by all the boats with their all chain rode. The boats with nylon rode move differently than the all chain rode, and in a tight anchorage it can get a bit dodgy.

Your question about a rock. I interpret that as what is common in areas of the Baltic and deep fjords - tying the boat's bow or stern to the rocky shore, with perhaps an anchor put out to keep the boat from swinging. is that your question?

Redbopeep makes a valid point, that one wants to anchor in a cove or some significant indentation to provide protection from wind-driven waves, and often a significant protection from wind as well. The Caribbean is a pretty good example. Virtually no boats will anchor on the east side of the islands, because then the wind and waves are coming into the bay with nothing to slow them, and the boat is on a lee shore - stern facing the shore and where the boat will wind up if the anchor drags. It's easy in the Caribbean because the wind is almost always from the East. A West wind is (almost) unheard of, except in a hurricane. Behind high hills or mountains, one can often find shelter from high winds, sitting comfortably at anchor with a stiff 20-knot breeze while it's howling 50 kts. outside. And Frank, I leave it to you to explain williwaws, etc.

The calmer the water, the better the anchor can hold. No matter how much rode is out, in extremely high winds the anchor rode is going to be stretched taut from anchor to the boat's bow. If in addition to strong winds one is subject to large waves, the bucking of the boat as it rises over those waves can jolt the anchor from the bottom, at which time the speed that the boat is blown backwards will usually prevent it from resetting.

Everybody wants to anchor in relatively shallow water - then you can be sure you have enough rode to let out 7:1 or 5:1 scope depending on your rode and wind conditions. However, what if you come into an anchorage where the depth is pretty much 13 to 15 meters except for one spot that's 7 meters or less. A good place to anchor? Well, one boat found that he anchored on top of a sunken tugboat and he had to hire a diver to retrieve his anchor. Another found such a spot and it was a sunken fishing boat. Same result. Sometimes where the depth jumps up 2 meters, then back down, over most of the bay, it's large coral heads. And there are other anomalies that spell trouble for retrieving an anchor - rocky shelves, for example, that can snag and sometimes break an anchor.

That's where your chart might be able to help you, but not always. My approach to an unknown anchorage is, "why?" Why this unusually shallow spot? Why is the bottom so uneven? Do we really want to be this close to shore? Do we really want to be this close to those boats over there? Lots of taking time to think things out is a good way to approach anchoring. And practice.
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Old 06-29-2010, 02:41 AM   #6
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Thanks JeanneP for a more thorough and thoughtful response!

We're having a rather interesting time, right now, in our river anchoring. Since I will be flying out to Texas, gone Wednesday through Friday, we brought the boat up to the Mare Island Straight and dropped the hook in front of a local yacht club. We've been here a couple days and are enjoying it so far. Nice access to shore and nice amenities (showers, bar, etc) even though we're outside the YC seawall. Further, if David needs help with anything, he can just pop into the YC whereas at other anchorages in the Bay area, we've been the sole boat and he'd pretty much be on his own while I travel.

Ah, well, herein lies our "interesting" With a long narrow anchorage we are amazingly close to the seawall at times. The seawall to the east of us has submerged pilings in front of it, too. So, we're even closer to those. Depending on wind and river current we range from an OK 250 feet from the seawall down to maybe an uncomfortable 150 feet from it. With tides and a steep river bottom due to dredging, our depth ranges from 9 ft (low) to 24 ft (high) and we have about 150 ft of chain out and our 105 lb CQR on the end all tucked into the nice mud river bottom. The anchor was dropped along the deeper section at about 20 ft of depth during high tide. Tides/currents of (1 to 4 or so knots) run pretty much North and South; the wind is pretty much from the West, WSW, or SW. The boat always has a little bow wave from the currents and when we row the dingy to the boat, it takes FOREVER if we're not with the currents-even though we try to time it for slack tide. When we get close to the boat, we grab onto our boarding platform and hold on tight--it feels like our tender is in a whitewater river sometimes with the water rushing and churning between it and the boat.

We are not sheltered from the winds here in the Straight but there is very little fetch across the (narrow) width of the Straight so waves aren't really much of a problem. Even with winds up to 25 knots, the waves of the tidal currents are the predominant ones and the boat stays aligned with the currents not the winds. Today is a little different--there's a gale warning in place until later tonight w/wind forecasts of 40+ knots and we're seeing winds steady at 20 with gusts averaging around 35. Very interesting as the boat is actually at an angle to the current with the wind having an effect; further, we've got a big quiet slick and wave behind us just like when we're sailing--but of course we're stationary in the river pretty much. The bow wave is quite impressive, too--We're also heeled 2 to 4 degrees depending on the gusts. Sailing without sailing

The whole "interesting" experience is "interesting" and with gusts heeling us over and that seawall essentially a lee shore just a few hundred feet away, I truly wish we were sitting in any of the several other anchorages which exist around the bay each one tucked in a little bight or cove. But, as David reminds me, our anchor seems to be holding like a rock. So.... I'll try not to think about the last time we saw over 40 knots in an anchorage (half the boats dragged) and be happy that the weather is sunny this fine afternoon. There is only one other boat anchored here--a 100 foot racing sloop that doesn't fit into the YC. Its permanent position is anchored out here so we do feel that this must be some pretty good holding ground.
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Old 06-29-2010, 05:34 AM   #7
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Brenda,

In looking at the tides for the Mare Island Strait, noted the 2 highs and 2 lows each day T I D E,

does this result in interesting tidal currents? If the your boat changes direction completely every few hours - then the 105lb CQR (and its 150ft 0f chain) comes into its own with its hinged shank. Whereas others have to reset themselves each time with the possibility of dragging being increased.

Richard
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Old 06-29-2010, 01:18 PM   #8
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Thank you for all your answers and the story.

The idea of anchoring on an underwater rock (I guess "shoal" would be the correct term, but I am not sure) came to me for several reasons.

I did see some to do that, although in daytime and for diving purposes.

Also, most of the coastline here is steep rock: there are 10 meters of water when you are 5 meters from the land. It means few anchorages, and some of them are also crowded.

When I think about how to learn anchoring with minimising the risks associated with dragging anchor (rocks everywhere, remember), it came to me that if I have one or two miles to the next island, I would have plenty of opportunities to correct mistakes before running arock. Most probably both the GPS and the sounder would wake me up long before anything serious would happen.

So I thought I could trade a couple of less comfortable nights for learning anchoring.

Daytime experience obviously not enough, as anchors wait for the skipper to sleep before dragging
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Old 06-29-2010, 02:17 PM   #9
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Anchoring here in the eastern Med is an everyday preoccupation and, of course, one my favorite topics. As JeanneP wrote it is the most common subject of conversation among cruisers.

So, please indulge me and let me add my 5 cents worth of wisdom.

After a lifetime of anchoring the most important think to keep in mind is that no mater how experienced and skilled you are, sooner or later your anchor will drag. What you can do is minimize the intervals between these events and to anchor defensibly. That is, assume a change of wind, and assume either that either your boat or your neighbor's boat will drag.

Watching many charter boats I have repeatedly observed the following mistakes:
  • Starting to full reverse before the anchor reaches the bottom, also reversing before it has chance to dig in
  • Not enough scope
  • Dropping the anchor on weed and assuming it will hold

What I consider "good", but not infallible, practices are:
  • Choose if possible a patch of sand where to drop your anchor, if the bottom has only rocks, use a buoy with a trip-line
  • Drop your anchor quickly by releasing the windlass' capstan and not by pushing the control bottom
  • Let the wind slowly move the boat downwind while slowly paying out the chain. If there is no wind reverse very slowly
  • Do not be stingy with your scope
  • Once all the scope is out and the chain is stretched, test the holding by revving the engine in reverse. Increase the RPM slowly while watching the chain for vibrations indicating dragging
  • Do not be too proud to re-anchor

Happy cruising

Vasilis
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Old 06-29-2010, 03:35 PM   #10
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Vasilis, you bring up good points. We strive to "land" the anchor in our desired spot before backing down; communication between the person on foredeck and at the helm is very important here. We usually use hand signals since it is too far for the voice to carry if there is any wind to speak of. Our windlass motor doesn't have a power-down mode, so our drop and feed of the anchor is only controlled by use of the clutch and brake.

Slowly feeding out the chain--yes! the controlled back-down is slow and best. But I note--I found that when anchoring in high winds, I must not back down but rather must keep a little power forward on the boat so that the boat will back down in a slow and controlled fashion. David works the foredeck and usually "matches" paying out the chain to our backwards speed. On our trip up the coast, in one anchorage where our goal was to have out about 250 ft of scope, the first 150 feet went out in a flash because of the very high winds--I wasn't even backing down, I was in neutral and amazed by our backwards speed with the wind alone and realized (because I could hear the chain paying out so quickly) that something was really wrong so I added power forward to slow down the backwards motion. I say "usually matches" because early in our anchoring experiences on this boat we were BOTH trying to match each other's speed--I would speed up the backdown based on what I was hearing in terms of chain paying out and he would speed up the paying out based upon the boat speed. One day, when it was almost suicidally fast, we conferred on the matter and realized that we'd both been compensating for the other's actions. Now, I just focus on keeping the backing down nice and controlled and slow.

Lots of scope--yes. Also, testing the anchor holding is important to us. I slowly rev up the engine from idle to about 50% power, David gives me the thumbs up that it is holding, I then more quickly rev up from 50% to 80% power, typically at somewhere from the 50% to 80% point, the boat becomes like a boomarang, the chain pulling taut, I take off the power, and the boat surging back forward at least 1/2 boat length if not more. Happy anchor setting, we smile, give each other the thumbs up and figure we won't be dragging. If we don't drag at 80% but the boomarang hasn't happened, I fret a bit, usually letting things be as is but sometimes, if really concerned that we could drag, I'll rev the engine up to 100% power to see if we will drag and to get my "boomarang" confirmation that we're really set hard. The boomarang usually happens at full throttle.

We've been at anchor for most of the last 14 months. With stays of 2 to 3 days typically, we've set anchor at least 100 times in this year. We've only dragged while setting the anchor twice--once in really bad holding silt in Newport Harbor and once on a floor of river rock in Dana Point. In Newport Harbor, we were anchoring during a hail storm and it was cold and awful to have to reset but we did it. When we brought up the dragging anchor, it came up with a plug of about 6 feet diameter of yucky silty mud, we're amazed that it actually dragged. On the second set, we still dragged at 80% power but noting that with the wind direction and all, we'd drag a good mile before hitting anything...so rather than reset the anchor yet again, we just did active anchor watch In Dana Point, there was really no wind and we decided to just have an active anchor watch through the night. We dragged all night a few feet every 15 minutes or so but it was relatively low-risk because it was so calm, even so, we sat an anchor watch all night. Re-anchoring wouldn't have helped there as there were boats in the sandy part of the anchorage (full) and we had no where else to go. Had it been even the slightest bit windy, we would have headed out to sea. Dragging in general--hasn't happened, we tend to be so "over anchored" with the weight of the anchor and chain that we don't seem to budge.

Heavy anchors and heavy chain seems a good thing. Our 1/2" BBB is 3 lbs/foot so when we have 100 ft out in shallow waters maybe 50 feet or more is sitting on the bottom--that's a lot of good weight in addition to the anchor itself.

Different anchors for different sea floor conditions--while lots of weight goes a long way to helping, using the right anchor for the conditions is useful too. We carry a 95 lb Danforth as well as a 120 lb fisherman/herreshoff style anchor to give us choice in style. We have a backup of a 105 lb Delta style anchor (like CQR without the hinge) and a small 30 lb Norhill kedging anchor. Everyone opines about what works best--you'll likely just experience what you have and figure that out on your own.

Richard--about tides and currents, yes, they're a bit of our "interesting" anchoring here. This Strait doesn't have "tide rips" indicated on the charts as some of the other straits in the Bay area do. However, there are definitely times when there's swirling currents and the "pointy" wave tops from the wind/current/counter-current all having their fun together. Late last night, our weather went from gale-gusts to milder 10 knots with 25 knot gusts. We no longer look like we're sailing with a big slick and bow wave And, yes, 4 times a day the boat changes direction--the thing which was strange was that yesterday was the first time that the wind had any say at all in which direction we faced! Now we're back to facing the tide current in the river rather than the wind. Oh....and that's an interesting point of anchoring--you back down in this river with the direction of the current NOT the wind. When we anchored, that direction was perpendicular to the wind. I started out facing into the wind and then quickly realized the tide was sweeping the boat sideways and modified my anchoring.

The 105lb CQR hasn't reset. Our path is plotted on the GPS mapper as a loosely defined arc around the point the anchor dropped. The anchor remains to the west of us, but depending on tide/current we're either North or South of it or traversing one way or the other North and South.

In our smaller boat (5T and 30 ft) we used to love to anchor (and weigh anchor) under sail. We haven't tried it with this (30T and 54 ft) boat, yet...
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:16 AM   #11
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Ah,a story about heavy anchors and lots of chain.

Bonaire is a lovely island in the Caribbean. One of the 'ABC" islands, where the wind blows hard and sometimes harder, famous for its Divi Divi trees that are permanently leaning to leeward from the constant hard winds from the East. It's just off the coast of Venezuela and well downwind of the Windward and Leeward Islands. It is a mountaintop with a very narrow shelf around it, dropping precipitously to 100 feet or so (incredible wall diving). Since it's such a diver's paradise with exquisitely clear water, and back 20 years or so ago not very tourist-ridden, cruising yachts would stop there on their way to the Western Caribbean or the Panama Canal. It was very easy to stay there too long, but though the winds are strong in that part of the Caribbean, Bonaire's harbor provides a high mountain to block and moderate the winds, making the anchorage very comfortable, even if it is a narrow anchorage where one is quite close to shore.

Story 1. We had stopped in Bonaire and dropped our anchor in about 10 feet of water close to the beach, as was necessary to anchor in less than 100 feet of water. By this time we had traded our mylon rode with an all chain rode, but Peter steadfastly rejected installing an electric windlass. There wasn't a lot of sand over the hard rock of the mountain ledge, and one day the wind blew harder and we dragged anchor. Off the ledge. All that chain and anchor hanging staight down, touching nothing.

Peter couldn't winch it back up. No way. Too heavy. What I had to do was motor towards the beach, and as the chain lay on the ledge Peter could winch up as much as was slack. I then motored forward again to gain more of the chain resting on the ledge with some slack he could winch up. He finally got it back onto the boat and we reanchored. Nervously, even though if we dragged it was about 80 miles 'til we ran into anything. Worth the worry; as I said it's a lovely island.

Story 2. Not amusing. Bonaire again. Though going to windward for more than a few hours in the Caribbean is something that masochists do when they're bored, the constant and consistent strong winds out of the East make for some exhilarating sailing and safe and predictable anchorages on the lovely bays on the western beaches of the chain of islands. It's too easy to get complacent and let your guard down.

One day the wind blew very hard. From the West. And all the cruisers anchored 10 to 20 feet from the shore in Bonaire were caught by surprise and driven toward the beach and the other boats. The hard wind lasted for quite a while, and left a lot of boats broken on the beach. Among the problems: dinghy painter getting caught in the prop when the panicked owner started the engine to try to drive out of harm's way (this happened, I believe, to more than one boat). Tangled anchor rodes and trying to get the anchor up rather than abandoning the anchor to get out of there. Prop fouling on the anchor rode, the boat's own, or another. We passed by Bonaire the following year, and some of the boats still sat on the beach, broken and abandoned. This happened in 1990 or 1991. Although there are some moorings in Bonaire now, I venture a guess that the memory of the switching of the wind has faded, and some day it will happen again when the gods find themselves to be bored again.

Divi Divi trees don't stand upright, the wind doesn't ever stop.
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Old 08-10-2010, 08:30 AM   #12
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Another lesson learned:

Respect the anchor and privacy of others. If you have as few clue about anchoring as me, ask the ones already anchoring to suggest a good place.

See http://www.cruiserlog.com/forums/ind...=0&gopid=43935
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