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post #44 of Old 12-18-2013
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Re: Anchoring for long term or in unprotected waters

Originally Posted by steel View Post
If I bought some $300 piece of junk boat, couldn't I keep it anchored, and if something happened, it really wouldn't be much of a loss.
As I read this thread, as much as I am uncomfortable with the tone, I somewhat understand the frustration on both sides. To the original question quoted above, yes, it is possible to anchor a boat in ways that it can be considered reasonably safe. There are mooring areas all over the country, many of which are quite exposed, were people routinely leave their boats unattended. As some have suggested, this is not as simple as it may sound. The anchoring system needs to be robust, you need a reliable way to tie the anchor rode to the boat, and you need ways to avoid the anchor lines from chafing through. It may be possible to do that inexpensively, but it will require some ingenuity and forethought.

Back in the early 1970's, when I graduated from college, I bought an old wooden boat for $400 and fixed her up to live on.

In those days, a lot of boats anchored for free in the open rodestead that was outside of the barrier islands at Dinner Key in Florida. Those were less regulated times, but even back then, that anchorage was known by the nickname of 'the pirates'. The pirates could be very rough since it was open to winds and waves off of Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic several miles beyond. It could also be very crowded in there with boats of all sizes, costs and with skippers of a wide range of experience levels. It was not all that unusual for people to anchor there for months and years at a time. It was not unusual for boats to drag and cause problems.

Many of us were on very tight budgets and would come up with comparatively inexpensive ways to moor our boats. The standard set up for the budget challenged was a mix of scavanged anchors and heavy automotive engine parts. Typically, in the 12 foot depth of water in the pirates, the small boat set up was that there would be a multiple anchor set-up with two or three anchors spread out in at least two directions with a huge amount of scope. Typically the anchors were set in the bottom and then perhaps 30-50 feet from the anchor would be some kind of very heavy engine part(s) (40-60 lbs) and then there would be another 50-60 feet of line to the boat.

The heavy engine part(s) would act a snubber to take the impact in the anchor line so that almost no load was placed on the anchor itself, and what load that did pull on the anchor occurred close to parallel with the bottom. This set-up was seen as not requiring chain since chain was expensive, but it did take a lot of line.

The enemy of any such rig is chafe. The rope of choice in those days was cheap quality, over sized, three strand nylon. There would be a thimble spliced in where the rode was shackled to the anchor. It might have leather stiched on. There was typically an eye splice pigtail spliced into the rode where the engine part(s) was attached, and the engine part was typically attached with galvanized chain, which also had leather chafe gear where the chain was attached to the eye splice. (The leather came from buying really beat up old shoes at the Goodwill. In those days there as a nearly free bin of almost too bad to wear shoes.)

Chafe was a very serious problem where the lines came aboard the boat and at the cleats. In those days, we used to be able to get scraps of fire hose from local fire departments and that was cut open and stitched in multiple layers to the anchor line to make up the chafe gear of choice. These days I use very heavy duty ballistic nylon that can be bought at a fabric store.

As a community no matter how meager our boats, we all watched out for each other and our own boats. There were always boats which would try to drag ashore in storms and we would pitch in to prevent that or to free them when we could.

So, "If I bought some $300 piece of junk boat, couldn't I keep it anchored?" Sure, it can be done.

But that comes to the second point that came up in this thread. Many of us who are sailors, have trememdous respect for the natural world we live in. And out of that respect, we feel a very strong reponsibility for minimizing the negative impact of our passage through that natural world. While we cannot easily change what goverments, businesses, or individuals do on shore, or how they impact the environment, we can change our own patterns of behavior and can feel a very strong personal responsibility to handle our lives and our boats in a way that does not damage the natural environment or leave trash behind for someone else to deal with.

We understand that while this lifestyle may seem to be about our personal responsibility and our personal sense of freedom, what we do and how it is percieved impacts more than just us. it impacts our fellow sailors, and how all of us are perceived, let alone the impact on the bigger community of man and nature. We understand when one of us acts irresponsibly, and becomes a poster child for recklessness, we sailors all may suffer under the punitive pendulum-swing laws which are levied against all boaters, not just the individual who allowed his poor judgement to temper the non-sailor's view of the sailing community.

So, while some of the comments above may strike you as being fascistic, they come out of a sense that many of us share, that with personal freedom, comes a personal responsibilty not to trash the world we live in, and to try to not to be an imposition on others, to give as much (or more) than we receive. In my mind there is nothing inherently wrong with buying a cheap old boat and keeping it on a mooring, but I, like many above, suggest that the statement, " if something happened, it really wouldn't be much of a loss." suggests a lack of personal responsibility, and an perhaps incomplete understanding of what it would cost to clean up a wreck, pay damages, and fines. It also ignores that sometimes the damage is irreparable/irreplaceable.

The point being that if you choose to buy a wreck and anchor it out, do it responsibly. Think through how you will anchor the boat very carefuly, pay attention to the chafe and water in the bilge. Pull up your anchors and inspect them regularly. Get the boat out of the water if there is ice which can cut through an anchor line very quickly. Because in the end, should you lose your boat, it could be a much bigger loss to you and all of us than the value of the boat itself.


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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay

Last edited by Jeff_H; 12-18-2013 at 01:27 PM.
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