03 May 2010

My Best Friend

Actually, Helena is my best friend, but beside her, my new best friend is my anchor.

People say that sailboats don't have brakes. Maybe some people's sailboats don't, but mine does. And it saved my butt several time... today!

I have got my anchor system perfected to where I can have my anchor down and set in under 30 seconds. Time me.

I've sailed with people who never put their anchor out. I sometimes wonder what they would do if they suddenly needed to stop. I suspect it would be a 20 minute 3-ring circus. That makes me nervous.

I put my anchor down 4 times today. Once when I went aground (more on that joyous topic, later), once when my engine stalled, once when I needed a break for a late lunch, and once at my evening anchorage.

The first two times called for quick action. The second two times were more relaxed, but the anchor went down just as fast.

How do I do it? Well, I have a bow roller, and I do store my anchor on it, when I'm some place civilized, like a dock...

22 lb Lewmar Anchor on bow roller
photo jalmberg

But for every day use, I keep the chain and the anchor in the bow well. That way, I can walk forward, pick up the anchor, and lower it over board (between the bowsprit and the wisker stay.) This is much faster than trying to feed the anchor and chain through the bow roller. Once the anchor and chain are down, I let the anchor rode out over the bow roller, as usual. The 22 lb. Lewmar 'Claw', with 12' of heavy chain, digs in instantly.

Recovery is nearly as fast. I pull the anchor rode up till the chain part is up to the bow roller, then tie the rode off to the sampson post. Then I grab hold of the chain and haul it in hand over hand. I have a better angle on it, hoisting it in over the side.

This hand-driven recovery system works, because my anchor is relatively light... just 22 lbs. And because it doesn't have any moving parts. Nothing to pivot and catch on things. And because it has no pointy bits... All of it's 'points' are fairly rounded. It's a very user-friendly anchor that tends not to catch on things.

Lewmar 22lb 'Claw' Anchor
photo, lewmar

As I said, I had urgent need of an anchor twice today. The first time was when I ran aground -- again. I strayed a few feet out of the channel and went hard aground. Gosh, I was mad. But the tide was rising, so it wasn't so bad. 

I decided to speed the process up by tilting the boat over, so I moved all my heavy 'cargo', including box of books, two boxes of fasteners, a box of canned goods, etc., all over to the starboard side, down below. 

This didn't quite do it, so I tried the trick of tying something heavy to the boom -- two five gallon water jugs -- and swinging it out to the side.

Weight at the end of the boom, to heel the boat over
photo jalmberg

Amazingly enough, this worked, and I was soon off the shoal. 

I'm getting pretty good at this running aground stuff! You can't buy this kind of experience!


>>> Next Episode: Foul Wind, Fair City





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6 comments:

  1. I keep mine on the bow roller - held up tight with a shock corded hook. Pull the hook out & give it a kick & it self deploys, about 3 seconds. Recovery is straightforward 'cos I have a roller mounted on the top of the inboard end of the bow roller so I can keep my weight inboard & pull straight up using my legs rather than my back.
    Don

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hard to see from the picture, but if you can, attach the end of the chain to the loop at the base of the anchor shaft, then secure the chain to the top loop using some light twine. (Chain will run parallel to the anchor shaft from bottom to top.) This will allow you to pull the opposite direction breaking the twine and pulling the anchor out by its base if it ever really gets caught on something. -Joe

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not too many are honest about running aground. It DOES happen to all of us....and in the ICW "just" out of the channel (and sometimes one cannot truly tell where the channel is!) is to run aground.
    I LOVE your blog and stories, John! Thank you!

    You can see what I learnd moving up/down the ICW here http://sites.google.com/site/poemscribbler/home/on-icw

    Fair winds.

    Tim

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hard to see from the picture, but if you can, attach the end of the chain to the loop at the base of the anchor shaft, then secure the chain to the top loop using some light twine. (Chain will run parallel to the anchor shaft from bottom to top.) This will allow you to pull the opposite direction breaking the twine and pulling the anchor out by its base if it ever really gets caught on something. -Joe


    But if you get caught on say a tide change then your boat will start pulling the anchor from the wrong direction and soon break the twine - most likely before the anchor pulls out and resets itself. The anchor is now inefficient as it is being pulled from the wrong point and you will most likely drag. This will probably happen whilst you are asleep .....

    ReplyDelete
  5. "If you haven't run aground, you haven't been cruising." --- Old sailor's dictum

    "If you haven't run aground in midchannel, you haven't been cruising on the ICW." --- equally old sailor's dictum

    ReplyDelete
  6. There are two kinds of sailor, those who have run aground, and those who are yet to.

    I'm still a novice at this sailing game, and I've run aground lots of times, you're right about not being able to buy that kind of experience!

    ReplyDelete

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