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  #1  
Old 11-03-2013
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Feedback on Anchoring in Storms

After several years of crewing on boats, and doing some basic day sailing, my wife and I recently completed our RYA Day Skipper certifications in Brittany. Wanting to reinforce what we learned, we decided to book our first charter in Turkey, and just completed it about two weeks ago. We've had some time to reflect on the trip, and analyze what went well and what didn't. Seeing as there is so much collective wisdom and years of seamanship on the forum, I thought I'd solicit some feedback on what we might have done differently, and how we can improve.

In general, we felt we had a steep learning curve based on two fronts: Meltami winds, and med anchoring/mooring. We hired a skipper for our first day out, just so we could get used to the boat and solicit some advice on anchoring. I'll just say that the skipper wasn't too helpful, and spent a fair amount of time on his cell phone. There was definite a language barrier, as he was a Turk, but ultimately it was apparent that he didn't want to be there that day, and couldn't wait to get off the boat.

The next few couple of days went well, as we cruised the Gulf of Gökova in 10kt winds, and got used to the boat. Anchoring with stern to lines was a bit of a challenge, but nothing we couldn't ultimately handle. The trickiest thing was finding good, uncrowded anchorages (even at this late point in the season).

By mid week a storm was predicted and the winds were to shift from the usual Meltemi NW to SE (25-30kts). We decided to head to Kormen, which had a restaurant jetty inside a breakwater, as it appeared well protected from the predicted SE wind. As we anchored for lunch I called the charter base about a technical problem we were having, and while talking to the base manager he informed me that Kormen was not an option as they were rebuilding the quay, and it was closed to boat traffic. This left us with two options: come back the way we came, or head to an anchorage in the very small hamlet of Mersincik. Since we wanted to explore the ancient town of Knidos the next day, which is near Mersincik, we chose the latter.

We reached the anchorage late in the day, and discovered two Turkish boats already anchored. We took up position to port of both, dropped all our chain (50m), and tied a stern line to a large rock. Depth was about 12m, and we were about 10m to the shore (which was very rocky). The Turkish pilot guide stated that the holding was suspect in places, and was sand and weed. We were able, however, to successfully set the anchor, we took transits, and we set an anchor alarm. By this point it was dark. We were closer than we liked to the boat on our left (about 10m), but the storm was starting to roll in, and it was dark, so we stayed put, rather than try to the whole process again. The skipper of the boat next to us said that there was going to be very strong wind overnight, and that we needed to have all our chain out. I told him we already did. Obviously, he was concerned when he saw a charter boat roll up next to him, but he didn't ask that we move. I put out our fenders on port and also tied our dinghy up on the port side.

Winds started to really pick up as bedtime approached. We didn't initially set up an anchor watch. However, sleep was difficult, as we were both anxious about the situation. At about 2:00 a.m. all hell seemed to be breaking loose. Wind was coming straight on our starboard beam, and the rigging was howling. We noticed both skippers were active on their boats. The skipper two boats over was pulling anchor and leaving the anchorage. This didn't make us feel much better about the situation, so we set up an anchor watch. I stayed up from about 2:00 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., and kept watch on our position and our lines, as the storm came through in bands of wind, lashing rain, and lightning. However, things seemed to be holding.

At 5:30 a.m. I woke my wife, and she took the cockpit. Only ten minutes later, I heard a bang, and went topsides to see what was happening. She was not in the cockpit, and I feared she'd gone overboard. However, she was at the mast working on something. A small portion of the sail had popped out of it's stack pack, and according to my wife, the boat had been pushed hard to port, as the winds continued hard on the starboard beam. We fought to get the sail back in place, but noticed the boat was now out of position and moving closer to the boat next us. We were still tied hard to stern, but were dangerously close to the shoreline rocks, and with each gust we seemed to get closer to our neighbor. I cranked up the engine and used it to guide our bow away, but with each gust we would be brought back into precarious position. It seemed obvious to me, at this point, that we were dragging anchor. I am guessing that our issue with the mainsail helped dislodge it.

The sun was starting to rise. After about five minutes of maneuvering under power, I told my wife that I thought we should pull anchor and get out of the anchorage. We contemplated what we needed to do. I suggested we abandon the stern line, but she didn't want to do so. I ended up jumping in the dinghy to release from the shore, while she took the helm. As she pulled away with me pulling myself back via the stern line, she started drifting into our neighbor, who by this time was on deck and helping fend our boat off.

We were now free at our stern, but keeping the boat in position to bring the anchor up was proving a challenge. It was a small anchorage with rocks on three sides, so I was mostly concerned with keeping the boat off the shore. As the anchor finally came up, my wife yelled back that we had fouled our neighbors anchor, and she brought it up with ours. Neither of us knew what to do. I tried to keep the boat in position, as the Turkish skipper jumped in his dinghy and make his way to our bow. After about five minutes, he and my wife were able to get his anchor free, and we finally pulled out of the anchorage.

We had nowhere else to anchor, and were fairly freaked at this point, so with bare poles, we decided to motor across to Bodrum. Winds were still about 25-30kts, and seas were about 2m. After a 3 hour crossing of the gulf, we were finally able to take a little shelter.

So, there is our story. Honestly, we were both shaken enough that the final day of our charter we decided to stay in port. The winds were still very strong, and we weren't feeling up to it. As I said at the outset, we've had time to think it over, and discuss what we think we did right and wrong. Generally, we think we've got a good handle on how we'd do it next time, but I'd love to hear from others.

Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2013
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Re: Feedback on Anchoring in Storms

Congrats on getting out of that without major problems.

We do a lot of stern tying in our region.. fortunately, in summer, overnight strong winds are very rare.

One thing with shore lines is to always try to have the stern/shore line led ashore and back to the boat so you can fully release AND retrieve it from the boat. This calls for a longer spool, and occasionally you'll be too far off the beach to use it that way, but if you can you should do so.

Strong winds (or currents) abeam is the worst situation with stern ties.. it puts exponentially higher loads on the anchor. So it's even more important to be certain you are thoroughly set. Other boats' proximities are also problematic.. and with this setup your most secure attachment is to the beach, so that's where you're going if the anchor lets go.

I think you did well to get out of there.. and were lucky to be able to extricate yourself in daylight. Ultimately it was probably not the best place to hook up in light of the fact that this storm was known to be on the way, but that's hindsight... and there probably weren't many better options besides spending the night at sea.. again, in hindsight, could you have made the 3 hour passage the evening before?? May have been the better call.
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Old 11-03-2013
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Re: Feedback on Anchoring in Storms

When it comes to anchor watches, whenever I know bad weather is coming, I always sleep in the cockpit. That way, it is easy to sit up and look around, at the slightest hint that something is not right. It's too easy to talk yourself into staying in the bunk when below.

And, it easy to check the GPS to see what's going on, even on a dark night. I always make the location of my set anchor a waypoint. That way, no matter which way the wind blows or changes, you know that the distance to the waypoint, shouldn't really be changing that much. If it starts to increase, you know you have a problem.
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Old 11-03-2013
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Re: Feedback on Anchoring in Storms

Quote:
Originally Posted by boofit View Post
This left us with two options: come back the way we came, or head to an anchorage in the very small hamlet of Mersincik. Since we wanted to explore the ancient town of Knidos the next day, which is near Mersincik, we chose the latter.
boo - a quick check of Google Earth shows the small Mersincik anchorage to be wide open to the SE winds with a rocky shore alee.

With the stakes at hand - being blown onto a rocky shore and losing the boat and perhaps your lives and adjacent boats as well - a decision to anchor there to preserve a scheduled visit to Knidos seems…well…you know.

Taking haven "the way we came" or staying at sea are significantly better choices as I think you found out. With a reliable engine and the ability to heave to and the ability to beat to windward (uncomfortable but possible) you would have been much safer at sea.

Experience is what you have right after you needed it.
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Re: Feedback on Anchoring in Storms

I love that last comment "Experience is what you have right after you needed it". That's exactly the way we felt/feel. A few things on setting up in that anchorage:

1. Recommended by the base manager
2. Local boats anchored there
3. Out of time to find anything else, and we couldn't put to sea at night in a charter boat
4. The winds while predicted to be SE, seemed to shift all night. Most of the time they seemed to be coming mostly out of the SSW. Technically, we were protected from that direction, but were still getting hammered.

With all that said, I agree that it was not, at all, a good place to be. And, as Faster stated in a previous comment, we were probably better to make the crossing to Bodrum the evening before the storm, or as you suggest, turn back.

Thanks for all the feedback, so far!
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Re: Feedback on Anchoring in Storms

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Originally Posted by fryewe View Post

Experience is what you have right after you needed it.
Too true....
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".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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Old 11-03-2013
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Re: Feedback on Anchoring in Storms

Great story, especially the bit about the uselessness of skippers one hires to teach. Learn yourself.

In a blow I would never anchor tied to a shore. As you found out the wind never comes from the right direction. You were being pushed hard from one side. Could have been disasterous.
They do it in the med because there is no tide and its convenient. Also at time the bays are deep. But it's only a convenience, it's NOT safer than anchoring in the middle of the bay where the boat can swing bow to the wind.

The same error is made in the tropics for hurricanes and cyclones. People hear about mangroves and go tie to them. that's not what's meant by ting into mangroves. The idea is to find a little creek SURROUNDED by mangroves and the tide deep into them where nothing can reach you. But to tie close to shore is death on wheels.

50 meters of chain seems like a lot, especially when converted to feet, but it's not.

Two nights ago I came into an anchorage and the weather was deteriorating, and in 4 meters of water I had out 20 meters to pull the anchor in and then let out ten more to 30 meters, and then later out to 50 meters. Another boat came in later and parked upwind of me.... And dragged 300 meters through the anchorage colliding with the boat next to me. I was told the next day because I was ashore drunk and disorderly chatting up some hot chic and stuffing my face. Perfect night after a pretty horrible 4 day passage.

I think I need to get drunk again....... Now!
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Re: Feedback on Anchoring in Storms

It sounds like you were doing ok, up until the point where the sail got free. I don't have a stackpack but, I typically put additional ties around my mainsail cover if I know a blow is coming. One of my mainsail ties always goes through the head cringle and is tied down around the boom, so the sail can't set itself.
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Re: Feedback on Anchoring in Storms

To your point, the boat that pulled out of the smaller anchorage at 0200 was just around the corner when we left, and was free swinging. That larger anchorage felt much more exposed to or novice eyes, as we were arriving, but in hindsight I agree that we would have been better to not tie stern to. Where we ended up anchoring, the two already anchored boats were tied stern to, so we needed to do the same. There wasn't enough swinging room in the small inlet.
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Re: Feedback on Anchoring in Storms

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Originally Posted by boofit View Post
To your point, the boat that pulled out of the smaller anchorage at 0200 was just around the corner when we left, and was free swinging. That larger anchorage felt much more exposed to or novice eyes, as we were arriving, but in hindsight I agree that we would have been better to not tie stern to. Where we ended up anchoring, the two already anchored boats were tied stern to, so we needed to do the same. There wasn't enough swinging room in the small inlet.
Yes, you do always have consider the practices of those already anchored as you decide how to 'fit in'.
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Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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