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kreinestja 07-10-2007 08:01 PM

Block Island Adventure
I had posted the story below as a reply to another post. However, I decided to post it in general discussion as a new thread because I would love to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience on <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on">Block Island</st1:place>.

Last Friday we sailed to Block Island from <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Jamestown</st1:City>, <st1:State w:st="on">RI</st1:State></st1:place> and had quite the experience. I do not want to scare you into not going but due to the fact you stated you were new to sailing, I decided to share our recent <st1:place w:st="on">Block Island</st1:place> experience.
We had read many different stories about the difficulties of anchoring at <st1:place w:st="on">Block Island</st1:place> and also the squalls that often hit the island. Due to these stories, we took off on a Friday so that we would comfortably get a town mooring or dock at Payneís <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Marina</st1:place></st1:City>. We left <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Jamestown</st1:place></st1:City> about 12:00 PM and arrived at BI about 4:30 PM. The sail was rough but pretty uneventful. The Salt Pond area was filled with of all kinds of boats. There were familyís happily playing on the surrounding beaches. The sun was shining and all was well. We were disappointed to see that all ninety town moorings were already taken and when I called Payneís he said he could try to fit us in but we would have to be rafted to another boat and he just didnít make it sound very inviting. We looked at all the boats anchored and thought, hey how bad can it be. We motored our Ericson 38 over to the anchorage area. Due to the fact I am terrified to operate our boat in small areas, I do the dropping and lifting of the anchor. The first three times we tried to anchor we used the Danforth anchor. During the third drop a nice gentleman dinghyíd over and told my husband that the Danforth would never work and we need to switch. So we switched to the CQR anchor, which happened to be buried under the v-berth and had sails on top of that. So as my husband/captain continued to keep the boat safe, I ran below to get the new anchor, which I pushed up and through the forward hatch. The funny part, I believe the Danforth was actually set because I could barely bring it up and it was covered with mud and large clams. But the decision had been made to switch so I followed captainís orders. We attempted to anchor three times with the much heavier anchor with no luck. I happened to look up between breaths, sweat and close to tears and to my horror the distant skies were not dark but black. The winds were starting to pick up in a way that I had never seen before. The winds were soon 45 knots and we began to see how many boats were poorly anchored. Sailboat and motorboats alike began crashing into each other. You could hear people reporting to the harbor master that unmanned boats were causing damage to other boats and that boats were loose with no one onboard. It was complete chaos and if I hadnít seen it with my own eyes, I would have never believed it. Behind us were three large motor boats whose anchor lines were now tangled. Someone had to dingy to the anchor lines and pull on the anchors onto the dinghy and detangle it that way. Many of these boats didnít have owners on them. I would assume most of them were enjoying the beach because fifteen minutes previously, it was a beautiful day. The people who worked at the boat yard were responding amazingly calm. I was told this is due to the fact this is so common in <st1:place w:st="on">Block Island</st1:place>.
The weather returned to calm and sunny within twenty minutes. I however was physically and mentally spent. We tried to get a mooring or a dock and it was impossible. At 7:30pm we motored over to a private mooring and picked up an empty mooring that belong to the BIYC. I was prepared to pay any fee but no one came for money or to throw us off. First thing in the morning we found an empty town mooring and enjoyed the rest of our stay in <st1:place w:st="on">Block Island</st1:place>. It is a beautiful island and is worth a visit. I however would never arrive on a weekend day or late afternoon on a Friday. We spoke to fellow boaters about what had taken place and of course they said we should have stayed with the Danforth but they also said that anchorage difficulties and squalls were a common occurrence on <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Block</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Islands</st1:PlaceType></st1:place>. The sail back was beautiful and I will return someday...Ö..maybe.
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kreinestja 07-10-2007 08:03 PM

I'm sorry for the crazy font and type in my previous post. I'm not sure what went wrong.


Freesail99 07-10-2007 08:09 PM

Interesting post, I enjoyed reading it, Thanks.

camaraderie 07-10-2007 09:00 PM

Kreinestja...your experience is absolutely typical. Block is notorious for bad holding and if you get there too late....the moorings and the decent anchoring spots are gone and you have to hope for the best.
If Block were on my regular itinerary I would invest in an oversized FORTRESS anchor and use the mud angle setting for the best holding. I would have it on a short chain/nylon road for shock absorbtion and leave the CQR down below or sell it on e-bay!

labatt 07-10-2007 09:32 PM

Cam - Aren't the fortress and danforth functionally equivalent, except that the fortress disassembles?

sailingdog 07-10-2007 09:48 PM

The Fortress is much larger and presents a much larger surface area—so it has a lot more holding power. Also, the Fortress has an adjustable pivot, so that it can be set for either mud or sand.

paulk 07-10-2007 10:34 PM

We've never had trouble anchoring in the Salt Pond with our Danforth, though it is nicer to be on a mooring. In the summertime, squalls happen.

saillavie38 07-10-2007 10:42 PM

A long night at Block Island
I love Block Island, and yes, the Salt Pond can be a difficult anchorage... every one has stories! A number of years back, I was with a couple of buddies aboard "Gavilan", a Morgan 382. It was late August, and Ken, Pete, and I were just returning from Martha's Vinyard. We arrived late afternoon in New Harbor, and anchored with a 35# CQR and lots of chain. We felt good about the set and drove it home with some reverse throttle. After tending to the boat chores, we set about readying the dinghy for the trip ashore. We were anxious for a few cold ones at Cap'n Nick's, but just as we were ready to cast off the dinghy, the wind switched ever so slightly, and started blowing a few degrees cooler.

Being prudent sailors, we figured we should stick around for a few minutes just to be sure the anchor held. Ten minutes later, the wind had settled in to a NorthWest direction, and was blowing about 25-30 knots. But the anchor held in the shift. Twenty minutes later, the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees, and the wind was settling in with gusts to 45. The anchor still held, but we figured we'd abandon the hootin' & hollerin' ashore in favor of standing anchor watches through the night.

We kept the coffee hot, not only to help the person on watch to stay awake, but to help keep warm. Hey.. it was August! Summer, right? We bundled in sweatshirts and foulies and huddled behind the dodger to try to stay warm while on watch. I think the temp finally bottomed out in the low 40's. Wind chill much lower! All night, through each of the watches, the radio was buzzing with reports of anchors dragging, boats colliding, rodes tangling, and termpers flaring. We watched all night from the cockpit as less fortunate boaters dragged and drifted by us.

In contrast to all the chaos around us was the soft but steadfast glow of the Milky Way overhead! With very little light pollution, and the passage of the front clearing out the haze, the view of the stars was incredible... alone in the cockpit on watch on a cold blustery bouncy night, hot coffee, a good boat with a well set anchor, the experience was memorable, if not spiritual!

Our chain and CQR held through the night. We were lucky. A few close calls, but no one crossed or fouled our rode, or drifted into us. The morning was crisp and bright, and by then the wind was a compartively gentle 20-25kn. We had a great sail back to Long Island Sound that day, close hauled into the teeth of that northerly, with swells from the south adding a gentle rythmic contrast to the gusts.

I've been back to Block many times since in my own boats with my own family, with lots of other stories and memories... fortunately though, never another night like that!

M382 #26

camaraderie 07-11-2007 09:29 AM has it right. The fortress gives you a 45 degree angle setting that is perfect for mud and the fluke area is larger and the anchor itself is significantly stornger. It also comes with "mud palms" which help even further to dig down into the mud quickly.
I am not suggesting everyone needs a I favor some of the newer designs as a primary...but in this particular type of bottom and tight anchorage it would be the best to have IMHO.
Check out these test results in mud vs. danforth:
Anchor Test

TrueBlue 07-11-2007 09:39 AM

I'm in constant amazement over all the stories I read and hear about dragging anchor in Block Island's GSP. We've been sailing there for the past 15 summers with our current and last boats, some years 2-3 times. Finding a mooring is always a challenge, so anchoring is a typical requirement.

Although we had to reset our Danforth during a gale with the last boat, not once have we dragged anchor there with our CQR and all chain - in any of BI's adverse conditions.

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