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redbopeep 07-08-2010 12:53 AM

Well, it was only a matter of time before we found a little corner of the Delta to run aground upon. This one was really weird but benign -- we're now "off" the shoal and anchored with our bowsprit right over it actually--but, yea, it was weird. There's a little cut between two waterways--the Suisun Slough and the Montezuma Slough. The cut is 30' deep and at the end of it, as one goes into the SS from the MS, there's a "hole" from eddies of water and the hole is over 50' deep. The channels are oh, say 150-200' wide here. We planned on anchoring just to the SouthWest of this cut--in an area that was known by locals and cruisers alike for good anchoring with approximately 7 ft of depth at low tide. We draw 6'4", btw, with 54' LOD/46' waterline. So, we go into the teeny tiny anchorage area and watch the FLS near the front of the boat read 3' while the depth sounder near the back of the boat (these two instruments are about 20 ft apart) reads 25'. Throw it into reverse, go back to the 50' depth. Think again. Go back into the anchorage (less than a boat length in, note the FLS is at 3' again which means its almost in the mud, hubby drops the anchor off the bowsprit--thunk into 2' of muddy water. Back down, oops, the mud bar extends back along the east of the boat, too, humm... we're aground for a bit, back down and turn the boat some more off the mud bar and take the dingy and pull a stern anchor into the reeds and tie it off to some pilings. Lead line says we'll continue to have 5' under the bow at low tide tomorrow am, 8' midships, and 20' at the stern. That's all good. Lead line in the dingy says we're in a "hole" just big enough for our boat and we should be able to back out of it. Goody. 15 to 25 knots of wind's on the nose and should stay there. I wonder how we're going to get that bow anchor outta the mud. No trip line. 50' of chain out there and I'm not planning on going forward one inch with this boat to get it. Perhaps we'll wade>/smile.gif

Lighthouse 07-08-2010 03:53 PM

The joys of cruising! Let us know how it goes.

magwas 07-09-2010 02:31 PM


Originally Posted by redbopeep' date='08 July 2010 - 03:53 AM (Post 1278550435)

I wonder how we're going to get that bow anchor outta the mud. No trip line. 50' of chain out there and I'm not planning on going forward one inch with this boat to get it. Perhaps we'll wade>/smile.gif

Maybe using the dinghy to pull the anchor?

Inform us about the adventure.

redbopeep 07-09-2010 06:06 PM

Oh, what fun...

It was a (not unexpected) 2 am "move the boat in the pitch blackness" exit from that anchorage. Must say that I cannot believe the anchorage is actually included in a cruising guide. I'll have to track down the cruiser who showed me the guide and get the author name/info to share that this is no longer a reasonable anchorage to use. It probably was...maybe 10 years ago before some of the slough silted in and directed quite a bit of currents through the anchorage location. I guess I need to get myself over to the cruising wiki and put in some info, huh?

Well, I was (as usual) doing my night-long anchor watch since I can't sleep when I'm worried about our holding. Looking at the gps track on the little Nokia N810 screen and taking a quick look around outside every few minutes, I could see that the stern anchor was way off to our starboard side and thus the outgoing tide was pushing us sideways towards the shallow edge of the slough. What I couldn't see (without going outside to the foredeck and it was cold and windy so I didn't go there) is that the bow anchor was also having the same problems from the same direction. Then, the bow anchor seems to have dragged off its shallow muddy bar into the deeper area where the boat lay at anchor. That shifted the entire boat aft about 30 ft and to port about 15 feet which showed up on the GPS immediately and put us within about 8 ft of the edge of the slough behind us--when I looked outside, I knew we were grounded since I'd done lead-line soundings (from the dingy) all around the boat earlier in the evening. Durn.

I started the engine, woke up Hubby and told him we're grounded, and headed outside to figure it out and try and get us off the ground behind us before we ended up further aground. Thinking: Shoulda just anchored in the major portion of the slough itself (used by boaters coming and going and well, that's bad form to anchor in what is essentially a channel) instead of trying to use this tuck-away spot which clearly had as much (or more) current going through it as any other portion of this slough. This is NOT an anchorage!

We ended up, within a few short minutes, motoring off the mud bar that had been to our port side which we were pushed upon by the ebb tide currents (thank goodness for a stout strong engine and soft fluffy mud), miraculously turned the boat in the too-tight anchorage, her bow sweeping over the other mud bar (to starboard) and motoring into the main channel's eddy swirl by the cut between two sloughs. Within 10 minutes we'd selected a spot in the middle of the channel about a quarter mile away and dropped a single anchor, counting on the strong currents to keep us parallel to the shorelines in the narrow area until daylight in 3-1/2 hours. We were able to quickly haul in our main anchor (a 105 lb CQR that I'd wondered how we were going to get off that shallow mud bar) but decided it best to leave behind our stern anchor and rode to be retrieved in the daylight.

While the un-grounding and re-anchoring was very quick and we didn't seem to damage anything (need to dive on the boat in clearer waters) nor lose anything but sleep, several things conspired to make this experience vexing for me:

On the way out the door, I'd not turned on the back light for the depth sounder (mounted inside but viewable from the helm) so I couldn't see our actual depth (duhh!);

I'd not taken the hand-held GPS outside with me to see our actual position in the dark (another duhh!);

Our compass (in cockpit binnacle) is unlit and I couldn't see it w/o a flashlight;

We don't have a rudder angle indicator and I couldn't see my marking of "king spoke" on the wheel hub in the dark. There was no marlin wrapped around the king spoke because I'd started varnishing the wheel the previous day. Because it takes so many turns lock-to-lock, and one can lose count of the turns, I usually open the lid of the steering box anyway and take a look at the worm gear to figure out rudder position when working quickly in tight quarters.

To see the compass and inside the steering box at night, I typically have a little led flashlight in my pocket. I was in my sleep shirt with a life jacket hastily thrown over it. No little led flashlight (another duhh!).

I had brought ouside with me a bright Milwaukee V28 flashlight (basically a spotlight but not quite) to use to view the worm gear and my surroundings but it immediately blinded me if I used it so I'd not have night vision for maybe 30 seconds afterwards.

Finally, vexing and inhibiting my ability to see anything: My very long hair. Usually tied back with a band, braid, or scarf, here I was hatless and the high wind whipped my hair into my face almost constantly. I was thankful of the wind as it was blowing us away from the shoal of the slough and away from the bar we were being pushed upon by the current. But even so--I couldn't see a thing for all that hair.

We won't even get into the issue of my less-than-stellar night vision which was even more hampered by having spent the previous day outside in the bright sun only shielded by a hat--no sunglasses.

Luckily, hubby has excellent night vision and, as a former Navy pilot, is used to protecting his night vision with sunglasses during the day and by not looking at bright lights at night. Unluckily, I'm the one with much more familiarity with our boat's performance in tight quarters so I couldn't just hand over the helm to him.

I finally resorted to shining my bright flashlight on a bit of reflective paint on an (uncharted) channel marker in the middle of the anchorage area. With verbal directions from David, and this guiding star, we quickly exited the anchorage. But, as soon as I could no longer gauge distance by seeing the little bit of reflection, I was hopelessly disoriented. David directed my actions--and his directions made no sense to me since I though we were in an entirely different place than we were and couldn't see that we were being swept by the currents into the cut between two sloughs...but I followed his directions to get us away from the eddy and the heavy currents pulling us sideways. Once my night vision returned in about 2 minutes (after exiting the anchorage no more flashing the V28 to see both the channel marker and the worm gear position/rudder angle), I could see the sides of the slough, hubby could go to the foredeck and we could use our usual hand signals to anchor in the channel.

In the morning, David rowed over to retrieve the stern anchor (a 30-ish lb Norhill that we purchased for the purpose of kedging) which was easy to find because of the two fenders attached to the rhode. He had quite a time (in the dingy) getting it out of the mud bar that we'd dragged it into while turning the boat out of the anchorage. He used a rolling hitch with the dingy painter to eventually free it.

After having breakfast, we motored an hour or so over to a nearby "slough to nowhere", the Montezuma, which has no through traffic, re-anchored, and enjoyed a windy but sunny day of doing..not much. We're there now, rather wind-bound for a bit and finding no reason to move elsewhere other than the lack of cel phone signal. My Internet connection is via a tether to my cel. We hoisted the 1.9Mhz antenna up a flag halyard and it seems that I now have an iffy connection so I thought I'd post this update.

On our list of things to do: install light in binnacle. On my personal list of things to do before going outside at night--take my regular jacket with flashlight, turn on the depth sounder light, and tie back my hair! Also on my list--use sunglasses during the day to protect my night vision and do not use the V28 as a flashlight unless I really want to be blind in the night. We both agreed that we'd stick with our own impressions of anchorages--not what the cruising guides say.

Well, I'm running the Honda EU2000, doing a load of laundry (we got amazingly muddy from retrieving the stern anchor and washing the dingy afterwards) and catching up on my web surfing.

Fair winds,

Lighthouse 07-09-2010 06:51 PM

Thanks for the most interesting update Brenda.

SeaVenture 07-11-2010 03:07 PM

Brenda, what fun that was! Sea Venture lived in the Delta for a number of years after we brought her north from MX. I remember the first time we took her out -- with guests on board, mind you -- Michael was having a blissful time, chatting up the company, and not paying a whole lot of attention to the buoys. This came about because he knew the area. He'd been sailing it for years. Only, he knew it based on the 4-foot draft of his 30-footer and not on the 6.5-foot keel of SV. So, of course, we bumped into mud. Michael grinned, backed us off (don't you love those big engines and soft mud), and then pointed down the channel. Only, on the way back, he got to chatting again, and not paying attention again, because, hey, the San Juaquin is wide and he's sailed those waters for years. On the second bump -- fortunately, no grounding -- I waved him off the wheel and told him to go play with the company.

And the winds! Oh, my, trying to bring SV back into her slip at Delta Bay, where the wind blows only sideways, and the current runs the same way, we had some hair-raising moments trying to get up enough speed to get in (with an itty-bitty turning radius available in that narrow slough) and yet not so much that we would worry if the brakes (reverse) decided to fail at the last moment. Tricky! And, honey, let me tell you, I NEVER took the wheel on that maneuver. I figure my own Navy pilot could do the runway maneuvers and leave the easy nav stuff to me.

Fun, isn't it?

By the way, we've changed our blog/website to one of Wordpress that allows us to have a blog with pages. So, now if you go to you get it all.

We're presently back in Puerto Escondido, linked to Internet while I await word from my agent. We'll move at some point, but other than it being very hot, 'tis lovely here.



redbopeep 07-12-2010 01:54 AM


Originally Posted by SeaVenture' date='11 July 2010 - 08:01 AM (Post 1278860840)

.. Tricky! And, honey, let me tell you, I NEVER took the wheel on that maneuver. I figure my own Navy pilot could do the runway maneuvers and leave the easy nav stuff to me.

Ah, Normandie, from the time of our big re-launch of the boat 4/2009, she's been "my baby" and I do all the tight maneuvering. The logic is that David is stronger than I am and he is also more agile, thus, he should be the one running around deck (if need be) fending off, he should be the one messing with our heavy anchor out on the bowsprit, and he should be the one warping us into or out a tight slip. This is a very traditional heavy displacement boat full keel/cutaway fore keel. The bow catches the wind and because of that cutaway fore keel it can be tricky to deal with. This boat wants-to-do-what-she-wants-to-do. She and I have a "special" relationship from our time together with me at the helm. I can typically get her to do exactly as I want with easy control (oh, yes, I have to be able to SEE where I'm going though!). With all the anchoring and docking we've done, I'd say David has only been at the helm once for every 50 times I've been there. When things get dicey in tight quarters, thus, it's me getting us through it unscathed. On the other hand, when coming into new ports--it is ALWAYS David at the helm. When coming into port over a bar, or surfing into Mission Bay Channel, that would be David you'd find at the helm, never me. We each have our little "specialty" and mine is getting in-and-out-of-tight-spots-on-and-off moorings/anchoring/slips/docks, and so forth.

Thanks for the update! on your web address and location. Keep us in the loop about where you've been and where you're going. Go check out the Cruising Wiki and build a page (or two or more!) about the places you've visited or add to pages already there. Now that I know you've done a lot in the Delta, perhaps you could do something on it? I'd be happy to add my little bit of Delta exploring to your more extensive knowledge>/smile.gif

Fair winds,

MMNETSEA 07-13-2010 05:44 AM

Not to start a new topic, but in the same neck of the waters, report that the PDQ 32 catamaran Catalyst, which flipped last week in heavy weather and eventually drifted, upside down, into a reef-fringed North Coast 'doghole', has been successfully rescued and righted. Reported in today's edition of LAT 38.


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