Colin on Anchoring

Anchored on a breezy day at Ingonish, Nova Scotia

It’s easy to get carried away with the idea that anchoring is simply about equipment. Sure, new generation anchors have changed a lot of things, most definitely for the better, but there’s far more to it than just the choice of anchor and ancillary gear.

There are many little (and not so little) things about the practice of anchoring that we should all consider to cruise safely wherever we sail. This summer’s cruise to Newfoundland reminded me on several occasions of things that I had for one reason or another set aside. When that happens, it tends to be a sign of complacency creeping in, so here’s what we have reviewed as a result.

Colin, European Correspondent here at AAC, is a deeply experienced offshore sailor who holds a Yachtmaster licence, and a gifted photographer and talented writer who has added a whole new dimension to Attainable Adventure Cruising. In addition, since Colin and Louise are from England and had their OVNI 435, Pèlerin built in France, they bring a European perspective to our site. You can read more about Colin and Louise and their business at their website.

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Marc Dacey

A great write-up, Colin, and a good reminder that the farther off the beaten (and sometimes ill-charted) track one goes, the greater the need for a comprehensive bag of tricks and techniques.

Rob Gill

Hi Colin, I always enjoy reading about sailing challenges on the other side of the world on this site, so thanks. Down-under, there seems to be a high correlation between owners that get into trouble (“joining the coral club” in the Pacific) and those determined to use every feature of their electronic navigation set-up – like connecting their auto-pilot with a “follow-route” function.

But if you only have few data points, say a depth contour and no distinguishing features to take reliable bearings, as with many low lying coral reefs and entrances or in your case being in fog, we do like the radar overlay feature on the chart plotter (pretty much the only time it is useful). If the radar image overlays 100% with the chart-plotter (you have a depth correlation and the channel appears visually to make sense) or you can see the whole image “shifted” by say 50 m, but otherwise is completely aligned, it gives you much greater confidence in your charting and your position.
Other cruisers have reported good experiences using Ovital with Google Earth images overlaid with GPS boat position on their iPads. The only issue here is you have to download the images that you will need, in advance, and when you are in good internet coverage.
Rob

Pascal Cuttat

Particularly like your comment “there seems to be a high correlation between owners that get into trouble (“joining the coral club” in the Pacific) and those determined to use every feature of their electronic navigation set-up – like connecting their auto-pilot with a “follow-route” function”. One of the reasons why I follow AAC avidly is the philosophy of using electronics as help where it makes sense, rather than blindly relying on it.

John Harries

Hi Pascal,

I agree. In fact of all the things I see in modern electronics set ups that scare me, and there are a lot, connecting the plotter to the autopilot is probably the one that scares me the most. https://www.morganscloud.com/2010/12/17/chart-plotters-and-autopilots-never-the-twain-should-meet/

Ernest

Actually there’s already a term for it – EAC, or Electronically Aided Collisions. Found this doing a quick scan on Googol: http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/electroniccollisions/default.asp

Colin Speedie

Hi Guys
for good or ill I grew up in an age where we simply didn’t have anything even remotely sophisticated in terms of what I call ‘electrickery’. Radar sets were the size of old TV’s, echo sounders were the height of sophistication and GPS was the sort of thing that James Bond had in his watch. Would I want to go back to that? No, I’m a huge fan of using whatever modern technology when I can – but within reason.
Even so, I and thousand like me safely navigated out way around the challenging shores of the UK, without all of the undeniable benefits we have today. And I’m glad that I had that education, because when the electrics fail I can rummage within the dark recesses of my mind and bring those rusty old skills into play. And I trust my eyes first and the plotter second…
Blind faith in anything is a risky business, not least in terms of trusting technology. Trusting your own snap judgment implicitly isn’t without its risks either. But we humans are amazingly sophisticated creatures with extraordinary senses and powers of reasoning. So I use all of the electronic wonder stuff, but trust my eyes first and treat all other inputs as they always used to be described ‘aids to navigation’.
The facility to overlay radar information on the plotter screen is a really useful way to navigate in tight approaches and we use it when we must – Louise and I are not Luddites. A great example of a way that technology can be of real value. But we still want to make sure that it matches what our eyes tell us, and if we’re not entirely sure – we go around again.
Best wishes
Colin

Jhildy

I have a quick question on snubbers. I’ve read on Practical Sailor that the ideal snubber length is about 1.3x boat length. Now, let’s assume we have a 40′ boat anchoring in 15′ water. At 4:1 scope, that would be 60′ of anchor chain. But if a snubber length is 40×1.3 = 52′ snubber, would that mean tying the snubber line 8′ from the anchor?? Doesn’t seem right? Wouldn’t that risk pulling the anchor out and ruining catenary effect too?

Thanks for any feedback!
JHildy

Dick Stevenson

Hi JHildy,
I know in shallow water in up to moderate conditions, I will only use about 5-10 feet of my snubber (say, rolling hitch to waterline). My snubber is 7/16” 3 strand nylon, so there is stretch in that 5-10 feet. In this way, if things get boisterous, I can just veer more chain without changing snubbers.
In practice, I put the snubber’s rolling hitch on the chain at about the 5-1 scope I plan for the night, then veer the full length (or so) of the snubber and back down hard. Then I pull in the chain till the rolling hitch is near the waterline (or so): about 5-1 scope. This is for average conditions: the more chance I think for an unsettled night, the longer I leave the snubber.
The above is for times when I will be on the boat, not for leaving for a day hike or something.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

John Harries

Hi Jhildy,

Good question and good point. In that sort of situation Phyllis and I would (and do):

  • Pretty much always use more than 60′ of chain. The very minimum we like to anchor with is 100′
  • Shorten the snubber up to about 20-25 feet, so the attachment point would not be rubbing on the bottom (taking into account bow hight.)

As to this ideal length, while I get PS’s reasoning, we have never felt the need to use a snubber that long. With our 55′ boat we find that 35′ is just fine and that includes allowances for cleating off and tying a double rolling hitch on the chain, so actual length is about 26 feet. This has worked well for us for over 20 years including being anchored on several occasions in storm force winds, and hurricane force on a couple of memorable occasions.

I’m guessing that the difference between PS’s ideal and our experience is that we don’t need ideal to be safe. Also, I’m not in at all sure that once past a certain point adding more spring to the system is even a good idea. More on that in a future post.

Jhildy

Thanks all! If i may continue on this issue:
1a. What would you do if you find yourself dragging at night and you need to lengthen scope—but you only have an extra 4′ or so of snubber!! Motor forward to retrieve the rolling hitches and then reset?
1b. would you do anything different if singlehanded and without a person at the helm?
2. On tieing the double rolling hitch, is the 2nd knot inboard or outboard of the first knot?—i’m thinking outboard?
I appreciate y’all making me a better and safer sailor!
Jhildy

Dick Stevenson

Hi Jhildy,
I actually rarely drag: and I (knock on wood) do not believe I have dragged since I bought my first Spade in 2007/8 or so. I am careful and my gear is (what most would consider) oversize.
If dragging, I generally would raise anchor and re-anchor rather than add scope. Adding scope might work (see next para), but if dragging, I would figure there is a good chance the anchor was foul: paint can on the tip or something, that demands raising the anchor and clearing the foul.
If the wind picks up, I usually have 15-20 or more feet of extra snubber most nights to let out. If not too deep, this might bump me to 7-1 from the 5-1 I start out with.
If a sudden squall or steady gale force winds and the anchor is stuck but I want more scope for insurance, I just veer more chain throwing off the first snubber and bend on a dock line (5/8-inch 3 strand nylon) to be the new snubber. The first snubber stays attached because of the rolling hitch and is just retrieved later when we up anchor.
All of the above is easily accomplished single-handed (except maybe the re-anchoring after dragging if the wind is up and, of course, it is night). I am loath to start the engine to futz around in anchorages dealing with ground tackle etc. at night in a blow: the bow is way too easily blown off and the very few times I have done so, I feel lucky to have not done damage to myself, my boat or other boats in the anchorage.
I tie a modified rolling hitch, (an extra round-turn below and above), that has worked for me.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Rick Gleason

I would probably anchor further inshore or further offshore if I thought it was due to kelp/seaweed. I would definitely increase scope on our boat, particularly if was caused by over used anchorages with a badly disturbed bottom. (certain areas of Block Island, Salt Pond, for example)

John Harries

Hi Jhildy,

As far as lengthening in the night, we have simply never dragged since we got our SPADE, so it has never come up. I have thought about it and our strategy is just to cast off the inboard end of the snubber and then use a dock line once resettled.

That said, as a general rule, if we started dragging I would be more inclined to retrieve the anchor and start again.

On the double rolling hitch, the second knot it outboard of the first. See this post: https://www.morganscloud.com/2015/03/05/the-only-five-knots-you-need-to-know/

Alastair Currie

Thanks for the article and information. I particularly agree with the anchor ready to deploy when approaching ports. I learned to sail as a trainee mate on a small sail training vessel, advancing to mate and then skipper and it was a pretty tough period. Preparing the anchor was always part of my routine, drummed into me. Once berthed it was always stowed again. This went on for years and in the flush of youth I questioned it (but internally), as we could always launch the anchor, so why prepare it. Fast forward some 30 years later and I have purchased my first yacht, a Rival 41C.

My brother and I went down to the marina where I purchased her, to deliver the boat to my marina, about a 4 hour sail. It was November in Scotland and there had been a series of gales from the west, all a lee-shore in this part of the world. One gale blew a yacht ashore, onto a rock island just off the departure marina and she had been high and dry for a week, sails flapping forlornly, lonely and lost. She was later towed back into the sea and recovered.

As we left between gales, we had a nice motor up the coast as the wind was right on the nose, gusting up to a F6. We turned the headland and got shelter from the islands as we approached the marina. The next gale had started to arrive and F8 gusts were now common, but still around the F5-6 mark. We entered the marina between the breakwaters and headed for the visitors pontoon which involved a 180 degree turn and head into wind approach, to berth starboard side onto the pontoon. The pontoon was just a weather shore with the wind blowing slightly off the centre line.

The Rival 41C has a flared bow, so carries a bit of windward well forward and will blow off when steerage is lost. As I made my first approach, I stopped the boat not quite close enough and she blew off rapidly. The wind was now up at F7/8 and gusting F9. I went round again, lots of room no big deal, and made a more powerful approach. My brother was ready to step ashore and drop the line around the cleat. As we approach with a bit more power, I went into neutral and then went into astern, increased the power and nothing happened. The bow blew away and it was obvious that I no longer had any propellor control.

Down wind was the marina wall and while we would have touched bottom first, she would have healed and probably got the rigging and mast entangled. I left the wheel, walked onto the foredeck and thanked my long deceased skipper that he made me prepare the anchor all these times as I pulled the dog off the gypsy and the anchor splashed into the sea. After running a bit, I snubbed on the chain and the 60lb CQR dug into the marina silt and pulled her head up.

I later found that the shaft coupling had sheared, the propellor had pulled out the back and the shaft bent, stopping the whole assembly from striking the skeg. In a way, it was fortuitous, as I replaced all the stern gear and added a Halyard Marine thrust bearing and new engine mounts all ready for the new season.

The moral of the story, is that we do these things for the unexpected, not the expected, but by their nature the unexpected can let complacency rule.

Colin Speedie

Hi Alastair
thanks for the excellent example, nerve-wracking indeed. Those of us who have been around a while have had something similar happen at one time or another – I know I have.
No matter how good the electronics or how reliable the engine (seems to be), complacency is the enemy and usually (happily) the problem that arises to jolt me out of my torpor isn’t so dramatic. But just enough to remind me to mend my ways….
Best wishes
Colin

John Harries

Hi Colin,

So true. I don’t think a sailing season goes by where I don’t think to myself, a few times, about a few different subjects: “hum, I’m getting a bit sloppy about that, time to smarten up”.

David B. Zaharik

Alastair, great closing comments. As a former airline captain I am reminded of our emergency reviews at the start of every series of flights, not that we expected anything to happen, but we refreshed the grey matter so we would react without scrambling trying to remember what to do when the stress peaked. Furthermore, your calm response, “walked to the foredeck,” is another valuable note. Certainly there could be times to react instantaneously, but more often then not, a calm approach to what could be a disaster is a prudent approach… men have shut down the wrong engines on aircraft because of haste!

Colin… great article… I’m looking forward to our adventure with you!

Colin Speedie

Hi David
your final comment is very pertinent – far too often in the heat of the moment, we rush to do the wrong thing….Calm is good.

Bill Balme

Hi Colin,

I remember when we entered Culotte Cove in 2016 (remains my most favorite anchorage ever), as we entered, our GPS track had us up on dry land! It was nice to see we ended up in a blue bit! We didn’t have any difficulties anchoring there – I think we were using a Manson Supreme at that point.

The guide says that Culotte Cove has some nice swimming holes up above the anchorage – I don’t think so! The water was so dark brown it was not palatable at all – so we went back to the boat. 20 minutes later, a bear came strolling along the beach we’d just walked across!!!

Colin Speedie

Hi Bill
yep – we had the same thing in Culotte Cove, so we should have been well prepared for such an eventuality at Doctor’s Harbour – which we were, in a way.
We didn’t get ashore, and have yet to see a bear, but we live in hope. At a distance, that is….

RDE

Gooday Colin

Perfect time of year to have her trucked out to BC and cruise to Alaska next summer! I guarantee you will see a bear if you do! And we keep a lot of water over most of our rocks so you can keep your keel down if you want—.

Colin Speedie

Ha! Richard, don’t tempt us!
It’s an option – that’s all I’ll say for now…

Dick Stevenson

Hi Richard,
Give us a couple of seasons to work our way to the west end of Lake Superior and we will ship to the west coats and look to you for a tutorial on Alaska.
Till we share an anchorage, my best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Andre

Nice write up Collin. You make the point of always having the anchor ready at the bow… it remember me of 2016 when I was alone on my sailboat motoring (no wind) down the st Lawrence in the channel in front of Cap aux Oies a few hours of navigation east of Quebec City toward Riviere Saguenay, a nasty place where current is about 4 knots in either sense of the tide. So I was motoring east bound at 6 knots + current at 4 knots = 10 knots SOG. A nice day…looking at a large cargo coming in west bound, the channel is less than 100 meters large. The cargo was producing a not visible huge bow wave, when we cross my boat went down the trough and the Rocna hit the water with great force. Because I had not fixed the anchor AND also because I forgot to lock the clutch prior to leave, at that moment the anchor was free and went down with a terrible chain noise. I was touchless for half a second… there is fifty feet of water, I have 280 feet of 3/8 grade 40 chain attached in the anchor well by a 1/2 inch rope. The noise of the chain going down at great speed was terrible. In a moment I put the boat on neutral… ran below to find the hand tube to lock the windlass clutch and emerged 20 seconds later by the front hatch … immediately locking the windlass. At the same moment the anchor catched the bottom and the 88 pounds Rocna did it job: the boat instantly flipped 180 degree to face the descending current. It was so fast I had to grab myself not to fall. The whole event lasted less than 45 seconds … but seemed like 3 minutes. By chance the channel is shallow because I could have lost the anchor and chain… never tested that 1/2 inch rope. This is a tribute to the Rocna which happened to set even while the boat was doing 10 knots SOG !

Colin Speedie

Hi Andre
sounds like a nerve-wracking experience – it was lucky you didn’t pull the windlass out of the deck at that speed!
Best wishes
Colin

Drew Frye

I’ve done a lot of anchor testing and come to three conclusions:
1. There is a LOT of scatter in the data. This can result from inconsistency of the bottom and small mistakes in placement. A properly sized anchor will hold a LOT when placed properly, and thus nearly all dragging is the result of either a bad spot or careless lowering. Place the anchor mindfully and test carefully.
2. Two thirds of the force is not wind, but yawing and surging. Use a snubber or a lot of catenary in some combination that absorbs force at the required wind speed, and do what ever is necessary (riding sails, drogues, hammer lock, bridles, second anchor) to make sure the boat sits quietly. No one answer, but the boat must sit quietly.
3. Yes, the anchor needs to be ready to go in moments when near shore. I’ve had 4 engine failures (or similar) over the years that were in really bad spots where sailing out of trouble was not an option. Each time being able to coast into a safe spot and get the hook down fast saved my bacon. You should be able to get the hook on the bottom before the boat stops moving forward without running. There is enough time, but you have to have things ready and use the time efficiently. Let out a lot of scope and snub gently; you have one shot!

Dick Stevenson

Hi Drew,
Nice comment. Casual observation tends to support your contention that 2/3rds of the force down the anchor rode is, indeed, yawing and surging. But reading that figure was sobering and deserves some thought.
I quite support your comment that “a lot of catenary” (i.e. a lot of rode) makes a huge difference but, too often, a lot of scope is just not possible. I would wish to suggest, that for most reasonable scopes (and even going up to 7-1 or 10-1), catenary is over-rated as an energy- absorbing and force-averaging part of one’s ground tackle when things get to Near Gale F7 and over, especially if there are any significant waves or swell. It is then that the snubber bears most of the brunt of energy-absorption and force-averaging. Catenary, in my observation, just seems to disappear with some degree of regularity in these conditions (boat thrown back by a big wave, bow rears up at the same time as a gust hits) and the rode, even all chain rode, gets close to two-blocked causing the catenary to effectively disappear when needed the most and the peak force travels right down the chain to the anchor. It is in these conditions that a snubber effectively evens out, to the extent possible, the forces on the anchor and contributes to its staying put.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

John Harries

Hi Dick,

You are right on catenary disappearing just when you need it most. I have seen the same, and I also have a spreadsheet from Eric Klem proving it numerically.

Also, I’m not at all sure that having a lot of chain out with a lot of catenary actually decreases shearing, even at lower wind speeds. In fact I think the exact opposite may be true. (I need to write about both that and Eric’s spreadsheet.)

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
This shearing about at anchor is a tough one.
I have been on moorings where there is almost no scope and felt like I would get whiplash from the back and forth. One might think that long tethers/rodes (distance from bow to where the rode is “fixed”- usually where the chain is scraping the bottom and even then, it is far from fixed) might contribute to sailing about. And it probably does, but perhaps the motion is far gentler, the transitions smoother, and the strain as felt by the anchor less.
Most likely there is a sweet spot for each boat and its particular configuration coupled with the wind and seas at the time. As well, there is snubber length and diameter and the scope to consider. I know that I feel I find a sweet spot for my boat where Ginger and I feel quite comfortable and safe, but I would be hard pressed to verbalize the ingredients that go into each particular choice or how they inter-play with the other ingredients.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

RDE

Hi Dick

If you really want to see the Anchor Dance, set your hook in a bay where one of those Lagoons with the vertical windows and a lounge/cockpit on top is anchored. Where your Valiant will be sitting as quiet as a dog who has ate the last steak off the barbie, in a gentle breeze they will be running from one end of the leash to the other.

John Harries

Hi Dick,

I agree, determining the optimal scope to reduce veering around at the anchor is probably both boat dependant and extremely complex, so I’m not at all sure that there is any rule of thumb that will be useful.

The bottom line, I’m pretty sure, is that for boats that veer around a lot, the core problem of imbalance between the centre of effort (windage) and the centre of lateral resistance must be changed either with a riding sail or Colin’s drogue on the chain trick.

Drew Frye

I intentionally wrote “catenary” in place of scope; if you do the math or the measurements, it’s really more about how much chain is deployed (feet) rather than scope (ratio). Once over 200 feet of chain is out it starts to help and with 400 feet out it helps a lot. But no, in many cases chain will not be enough. That is when long snubbers are valuable. As a multihull sailor I’ve always needed a bridle, so making it a little longer in rough conditions is pretty simple.

A number of investigators have confirmed through measurement that the ABYC table 1 values are realistic worst case values (shallow water, no snubber) and that the wind load alone is 4-5 times less than that (no waves). Where any given boat falls in that continum–and 450% is pretty broad when it comes time to size an anchor–depends on minimizing motion and absorbing shock.

Colin Speedie

Hi Drew, Dick
I think we’re all on the same page here. Catenary is helpful but of little use once it’s exhausted, which will make the shock loadings awful at either end of the chain – which is when things break. Reducing (if not eliminating) shock loadings is critical.
Over the years we’ve developed our own ways to deal with this, starting with long snubbers and encompassing such novelties as a drogue on the chain to stop the boat careering around in gale force conditions – all of which are explained in articles here on AAC.
Many people who have never anchored in really wild conditions opt for nylon snubbers that are way too short – I reckon 20m is about right for a 45ft monohull in an appropriate thickness (c.18mm) and in really wild conditions we double that up with one taking the most of the strain initially before the other takes up. That way we have system that really soaks up the gusts and waves.
Best wishes
Colin

Ernest

Two years ago we experienced a 3-day Meltemi in Greece and were anchored in a shallow bay with the wind coming perpendicular from land to the sea, around 35kt gusting to 42. I had dropped the anchor at the shallowest possible place where I could get with the bow, approx. 1.2m, just before the keel started to scratch. Had me blown back 50m (150ft) or so, and set a snubber bridle, only short (~2m) because I hadn’t more available on that charter boat.
The fact that the anchor was set in the shallows had the effect that the chain was lying on the ground for more than 1/3 of the paid out length even in the strongest gusts, and despite the fact that the Oceanis is horribly sailing around the anchor it held without problems.

Rick Gleason

This is somewhat off-topic. I need to replace 30 yr old anchoring 3-strand nylon which has been end-for-ended (probably not a recommended technique). Should I replace with 3-strand nylon or get 8-plait? We anchor a lot and leave lots of scope, but unknowing “boaters” have more than occasionally run over our line leaving anti-fouling paint. I’ve taken to tying a fender on 6′ of scope to the line, but it’s a miracle that the line has not been cut or wrapped. I am concerned the 8 plait will snag easily and not stand up to this type of abrasion. Perhaps we should move north where there are fewer boats. Any suggestions?

Rick Gleason

Sorry I should have put this under Q&A. Did not know it existed.

Colin Speedie

Hi Rick
8 plait should be fine, and I find it easier and nicer to handle. Splicing it is straightforward enough once you’ve done it a few times.
But I see no mention of chain in your comment – which I’d suggest would be the best answer – less scope required, virtually damage proof, catenary etc.
Best wishes
Colin

Rick Gleason

Thank you Colin, That is very helpful. Yes I do have chain, but not much. It is 20′ of 3/8″. I have been reluctant to add weight to our long ended Ted Hood 1969 design CCA boat. Since it is just 32′ and since John has found that chain safety factors are very good, I could probably add 50′ of smaller chain, but I am very careful about adding more weight to the ends. We are coastal cruisers 1-2 weeks at a time and some longer sea trips. We have a 35 year old Bruce 10kg (22lb) that got hd galvanized two years ago for free because they considered it small, and as a favor. We have been anchoring almost exclusively (few marinas) for years.

A pail of Acco 5/16″ Grade 43 G4 Chain x 90′ weighs 97lbs (Working Load Limit: 3,900 lbs). – Sounds kind of heavy stored forward of the v birth above water. I worried about a backstay mounted B&G Radar that was about 19 lbs.

Rick Gleason

https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/bristol-32 Since we often anchor in 12′-20′ our scope is 90-150′. 90′ of chain might solve the wayward boat running over the rode problem, but we’d want the chain stored further back. Then I’d be considering a windlass and I’m not sure I am ready for all that entails! I need the exercise anyway.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Rick,
There are a couple of considerations not yet touched on: it sounds like you do not have a windlass which makes handling chain problematic when it gets to a certain length: one’s age and physical condition dependent.
The other consideration is hurricanes: Is your cruising in hurricane country? If you get a week away from home base with a hurricane forecast in the northeast US, you will want very good ground tackle.
I have limited experience with 8 plait, but this includes being irritated at how easily it seemed to get snagged and have a strand or two break or pucker out. I have been quite pleased with NE ropes 3 strand nylon with some sort of Caprilon finish for abrasion resistance. I use them for ground tackle in the NE US until I went to all chain and have been using them for dock lines in (sometimes) pretty ornery conditions and have been pleased at how they stood up.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Dick Stevenson

Hi Rick,
One consideration for keeping your rode out of harms way is an anchor kellet. I think they are of questionable help for maximizing ground tackle effectiveness (there are better ways), but they can help in keeping rode from getting into mischief (wrapping of a nylon rode around keel for ex) and will help with your concern, but will likely not make the concern go away.
BTW, I anchored with most nylon for decades and certainly collected a rainbow of bottom paint colors on my nylon rode. It concerned me, but I do not remember any real damage occurring, although it is certainly possible.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Rick Gleason

Alain Fraysse has an excellent website which shows the factors and math behind these kinds of decisions about anchoring.
http://alain.fraysse.free.fr/sail/rode/static/static.htm

Calculated the load on our boat at 50knts as 2206lbs according the ABYC, but this is just a conservative approximation for many factors that Alain goes into in this website.

garry crothers

Colin, do you have a chain stopper fitted.
I have been pondering about how to retrofit one onto my ovni 435?

Colin Speedie

Hi Garry
no we don’t, and I’m not a huge fan once the gear gets too heavy for manual handling (unless the windlass has a workable manual function). But it should be straightforward enough to have a simple aluminium once fabricated and then bolted to the deck. Careful alignment will be necessary from whichever channel you lead the chain from, I’d guess.
Best wishes
Colin

garry crothers

Thanks Colin..
I mc considering fitting one for use in the event that the windlass failed, and I needed to use a cockpit winch to retrieve. My staysail is on a furler which makes use of the manual operation all but impossible, so I reckon a cockpit winch and a chain stopper may be my next best option. But not easy finding where to fit one. The shank of the anchor takes up most of the channel, then its just fresh air over the anchor well untill the gypsy.

John Harries

Hi Garry,

Maxwell has a nice looking one here : http://www.maxwellmarine.com/gen_accessories.php?bowrollers

That said, if you have a good snubber well secured, I don’t think chain stoppers are vital, although, when it’s blowing the dog off the chain, it is nice to know that if the snubber fails in some way, that there is a backup.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Garry, John,
When it is blowing the dog off the chain (love the expression, new to me) and I want back-up to the snubber, I bend on a dock line to the chain emerging from the windlass and leave a few feet to run. If the snubber breaks, I will hear any chain movement out of the locker and can then investigate. With the dock line already bent on, it is easy just the veer the remaining dock line and use it is a snubber.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

garry crothers

Thats a mean looking piece of kit..
Why are you keeping the dog on the fordeck…very cruel…
Good call on the dock line Dick..

Chuck B

Colin, thank you for the excellent reminders! I recently had some difficulty anchoring in soup, even with a fancy-pants two-sizes-up Spade anchor. In this case, letting out more scope did the trick. Another thing to consider/try if having trouble getting it to set.

Best,
Chuck

Colin Speedie

Hi Chuck
anything that helps is good. It can be frustrating to get an anchor to hold in really soupy stuff, but never give up! And I have to say that I rely heavily on a Fortress with mud palms set to the 45degree setting as the best there is in such conditions.
Best wishes
Colin

Rick Gleason

Alain Fraysse has an excellent website which tries to quantify the forces and in so doing describes all the factors involved.
http://alain.fraysse.free.fr/sail/rode/static/static.htm

Using his ABYC Windage calculator our boat’s windage in 50knts is 2206lbs.
This appears to be a conservative approximation for a number of factors that Alain steps through.

According to the anchor holding calculator our 22 lb anchor would hold
530 lb in poor ground, 664 in medium, 1217 in good and 2330 in excellent ground.
So it is pretty clear that the anchorage ground is very important and that a heavier anchor would help.

He shows mathematically why cruisers have chosen a hybrid chain-rope solution.

Dick, thanks for your reply. NE does have hurricane considerations and its often best to be home on a good mooring, but most certainly not to the west of the eye. We’ve been very lucky so far.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Rick,
I sailed the NE US for decades and successfully (always accept luck) weathered a few hurricanes. You mention being on a good mooring: make that a great mooring. Hurricane level moorings are tricky to design.
It was my take, back at the turn of the century when I was last there, that most mooring fields were inadequate for a hurricane. One YC I was at for a few years did not allow you to design/execute your own moorings and I was pretty quickly on my own mooring in the town designated public area. Rental mooring fields were also pretty shaky (with the exception of Cuttyhunk, I believe). My take may be dated.
The most serious storm I was in was Hurricane Bob (we were in the right front quadrant) and I was anchored in Onset and the mooring field was totaled as was the marina. The 3 other anchored sailboats and mine were all unharmed. We later learned that most mooring fields in the area sustained lots of damage, but luckily little personal injuries as almost everyone was (wisely) ashore in shelters.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

John Harries

Hi Dick,

It never ceases to amaze me that so many sailors will, when bad weather threatens, pick up an unknown mooring rather than use their own anchoring gear: https://www.morganscloud.com/2007/04/01/moorings-vs-anchoring/

8 Ernest

Probably lack of trust in their own anchoring gear and skills, and blind trust in “the experts” who laid out the moorings?
See also “trusting old salts” 😉

Rick Gleason

Dick,
Cuttyhunk is still a great place, and very well run. Bob really did hit Onset, you did well. We were on the mooring at the mouth of the Pawcatuck River with a 500 lb mushroom (now 700 lb + 200 lb pyramid) with lots of chain and scope and lots of room and totally stripped the boat. Watch Hill ended up with two half hulls on the retaining walls and a dozen sunk.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Rick,
Good to know that Cuttyhunk is still well run. Those are great cruising grounds: I miss them.
Watch Hill is a good example of considerations for storm prep. For those not NE US sailors, Watch Hill is a delightful town with a well-protected small basin which, like much of New England’s best basins, is chock-a-block with boats on moorings. Were I to choose, I might easily go out to the quite exposed “kitchen”* anchorage and anchor with lots of scope in its shallow waters, all alone (probably) and were you to drag, you would go up on sandy beaches rather than the rock walls of the basin and all the boats there playing bumper-car.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

*The kitchen secured its nickname because, in the Hurricane of ’38, the long sand spit out from Watch Hill held many large mansions rivaling Newport, all of which were completely scoured off the spit and into the anchorage inside the spit by the hurricane. For decades, it was not uncommon to have your anchor come up attached to a kitchen sink (among other articles): hence the nickname.

Eric Klem

Hi Dick,

Our home waters are the NE US and we do the majority of our sailing here. Our family had a total of 3 boats on moorings in Gloucester during Bob with the eye passing right over us. My take on it is that the situation has changed since then, some things are better and some things are worse.

In Bob, I believe that most of the boats that went ashore broke their pendants and also a number dragged the moorings. MIT did their mooring study which helped kick off the improvements in pendants which has now led to the New England Ropes Cyclone Mooring Pendants, a product that I try to talk up among my mooring neighbors. On the inadequate holding power front, almost all US NE harbors now have minimum standards so you don’t see small mushrooms or tires filled with concrete anymore. These standards vary widely and many would be inadequate for more than a strong tropical storm but there are some good ones and I never really hear about dragging in normal noreasters anymore. Also, most harbors now require regular inspection for corrosion and wear which is good although the quality of the inspections is sometimes suspect.

On the bad side, there are many more moorings than before. This means that the moorings have pushed out into less protected areas and also taken up a lot of the good spots for anchoring (your spot in Onset is still there thankfully although the amount of debris coming down on you is likely higher) while concentrating boats so that one that has broken free is more likely to hit others. Also, many owners are still clueless or absent and whenever we have a noreaster, you see several shredded jibs and chafed through pendants.

When the next major storm comes through the US NE, I am sure that there will be major carnage but the harbors which have approached the problem correctly may well see little damage. Given the choice between anchoring out and being on a known, adequately specified, protected mooring for a big storm, I would choose the mooring. Unfortunately, condition is often unknown, gear is often undersized and protection is often poor for moorings making it often better to anchor out. I see a mooring as having lower ultimate holding power than anchoring is capable of but with a much lower variation in it so if you are confident that the holding power is there, it is more reliable (other factors like location and other boats being equal). I suspect that if you take a direct hit from a major hurricane eyewall, you may well have a higher probability of success with anchoring as most moorings are not designed for those conditions but good, large anchors in the right substrates can hit those holding numbers but with lower reliability.

Eric

Dick Stevenson

Hi Eric
Thanks for the update and analysis: it sounds like progress as usual; 3 steps forward, 2 back with a little sideways shuffle.
Walking the beaches of Onset after the storm, it was clear, as you noted, that many were ashore as their pendants had parted. Our interesting observation was that the break was about 10-15 feet from the stem and not chafe at the bow. Our interpretation was that the break was caused by other boats cutting the pendant well out front of the boat where the pendant was meeting the water, most likely being abraded by the rudder, prop etc. of a boat dragging down on it. BTW, casual observation was that the boats blown ashore on sandy not-steep shores sustained mostly cosmetic damage.
Agree about staying on a “known, adequately specified, protected mooring for a big storm”. That is what I had in a small basin in Mamaroneck Harbor after I left the YC. But I often thought that, were I to get caught out in an up-coming storm in the area while cruising, I would head for the center of the big empty pool inside Oyster Bay, bigger than Onset, but again, I would likely be alone and surrounded by sandy beaches. This is in contrast to the cruising boats I know that flooded into the local yacht clubs’ crowded mooring fields for storms accepting the guest moorings available.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Rick Gleason

My concern is not the bottom, with 6′ of smelly black muck, as long as the mushroom is held sideways for a couple of months it will sink very very deep. My concern is chafe at the boat’s bowsprit, including lateral motion despite the full keel, and plunging in steep waves from certain long fetch directions with shallower waters. An excessively long chain and long pendant coupled with a big oversized mooring ball will provide extra “give” despite what some of the pros may say.

John Harries

Hi Dick,

I agree on the Oyster Bay pool. Long been on our bolt hole list, together with Great Salt Pond at Block Island: https://www.morganscloud.com/2011/11/04/choosing-a-storm-anchorage-part-one/

John Harries

Hi Eric,

Great to hear of standards being imposed in harbours in your area. I only wish we would see some of the same here in Atlantic Canada where the 1000 lb concrete block is still distressingly common.

And yes, I agree, given a good known mooring that would be my choice in most cases too: https://www.morganscloud.com/2012/05/29/storm-mooring/

Rick Gleason

Sorry that was not correct. If the eye goes into land to the west of your boat, depending on distance, that’s when there is more trouble.

Dick Stevenson

Hi JHildy,
I know in shallow water in up to moderate conditions, I will only use about 5-10 feet of my snubber (say, rolling hitch to waterline). My snubber is 7/16” 3 strand nylon, so there is stretch in that 5-10 feet. In this way, if things get boisterous, I can just veer more chain without changing snubbers.
In practice, I put the snubber’s rolling hitch on the chain at about the 5-1 scope I plan for the night, then veer the full length (or so) of the snubber and back down hard. Then I pull in the chain till the rolling hitch is near the waterline (or so): about 5-1 scope. This is for average conditions: the more chance I think for an unsettled night, the longer I leave the snubber.
The above is for times when I will be on the boat, not for leaving for a day hike or something.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Harald Braun

Did anybody ever use a Swell Bridle?

John Harries

Hi Harald,

If you mean pulling the boat around with a line to the rode so she aligns better with the swell, yes I have. That said, I never found that it works that well since it seems to require a lot of adjustment to keep things in balance. To me it’s one of those things that sounds great in books but dose not worth that well in practice. That said, if there is just no alternative and the wind and swell are pretty constant, like say the eastern Caribbean, it does help a bit.