ICW anchoring experiments - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 10 Old 08-02-2012 Thread Starter
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ICW anchoring experiments

As many of you may know I have recently completed a trip from north west Florida, around Key West, to the Bahamas and finally up to the Chesapeake. I ended up covering roughly 1600 miles in total and took many side trips and excursions. This trip was my first experience traveling any significant distance on the ICW. Among the many new experiences that the ICW brought, one in particular kept me occupied; anchoring.

Anchoring on the ICW gave me several occasions to say to myself "self, why do you figure the boat is pointed away from the wind with the anchor rode running under the keel?"

So, the experiments thus began. What I found myself encountering was a couple of common situations. 1) wind and current running opposite each other, 2) wind steady from one direction with the current changing with the tide, and 3) calm wind and a changing tidal current.

Working and anchoring in a current isn't something new to me, I spent several yeas in the Army building bridges as a boat operator, but doing it on a keel boat is a new experience for me. The keel really makes a difference and, at least in my limited experience, dominates how the boat behaves over wind unless the wind is quite strong.

Back to my experiments. Over the course of a couple of weeks I tried several things to get the boat to stop riding over the anchor rode when the current changed direction over night. I should add that I am on 30 feet of chain and 3/4 inch nylon rode. I believe that an all chain rode would not experience the ride-over like the nylon rode.

The three anchor configurations that I tried were 1) single anchor off the bow, 2) two anchors off the bow, Bahamian style, and 3) bow and aft anchors.

The configuration that worked consistently for me was a bow and aft anchor. I would set the bow anchor by pointing the boat into either the wind or current, whichever was predominate, and then simply toss a small anchor off the aft. I never put any effort into setting the aft anchor and used it to act as drag more than as a firm anchor. In areas with a particularly strong current the boat would ride around the bow anchor during a change of current direction and the drag from the aft anchor would create enough resistance that the bat would swing rather ride over the bow anchor rode.

The few times I tried Bahamian style, the current change would lay my keel along one of the rodes. Never getting a wrap around the keel, but requiring me to fish the rode out before retrieving the anchors.

I should add that I believe that using a kellet in even a single bow anchor configuration would have also solved the problem but I didn't have a kellet with me and was too lazy to construct something.

So, those are my anchoring observations from this trip. I hope they prove helpful to someone out there that may be asking themselves similar questions.

Cheers!
Crew of the S.S.R.I

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post #2 of 10 Old 08-02-2012
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Re: ICW anchoring experiments

I know the problem first hand. Thanks for sharing!
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post #3 of 10 Old 08-02-2012
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Re: ICW anchoring experiments

It's called being "keel wrapped", a common occurrence in tidal waters and also when the wind opposes a current. The easiest solution is to get a 5 pound vinyl dipped dumbbell, tie a line to it long enough to clear your keel and loop it over the anchor rode with another small line. Drop it over the side and when the tide changes your rode will hang straight down and not get wrapped around the keel.

Being keel wrapped is dangerous as I have seen a rode get chafed through on the trailing edge of a keel. Off went the boat!

The first time it happened to me many years ago I did not have a dumbbell handy so I used a 2 quart milk jug and filled it with sand. Worked.
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post #4 of 10 Old 08-02-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: ICW anchoring experiments

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It's called being "keel wrapped", a common occurrence in tidal waters and also when the wind opposes a current. The easiest solution is to get a 5 pound vinyl dipped dumbbell, tie a line to it long enough to clear your keel and loop it over the anchor rode with another small line. Drop it over the side and when the tide changes your rode will hang straight down and not get wrapped around the keel.

Being keel wrapped is dangerous as I have seen a rode get chafed through on the trailing edge of a keel. Off went the boat!

The first time it happened to me many years ago I did not have a dumbbell handy so I used a 2 quart milk jug and filled it with sand. Worked.
Hi Vasco,
Your suggestion is what I refer to as a kellet. I may be using the wrong terminology, this trip was a bit of trial and error on my part. At times I felt like I was re-inventing the wheel, or as my wife would say "had to pee on the electric fence for myself."

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post #5 of 10 Old 08-02-2012
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Re: ICW anchoring experiments

I agree with your fore and aft anchoring experience. I've done much of the ICW and normally anchor fore and aft when away from other boats. I always anchor that way in the river currents. I also often anchor fore and aft in ocean anchorages if there is limited swing room and no other boats anchored differently nearby.



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post #6 of 10 Old 08-02-2012
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Re: ICW anchoring experiments

I would agree that what Vasco is referring to could be called a kellet but there is a key difference which is where on the rode it is. In this case, it is kept very close to the bow (slightly farther away than the draft of the vessel). This works well because there is never very much load on the rode when you are in this situation because if there is enough rode, you will be lying more normally to your anchor. In my experience, using this method is usually the best way to go. It is the only time that I ever use a kellet.
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post #7 of 10 Old 08-02-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: ICW anchoring experiments

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I would agree that what Vasco is referring to could be called a kellet but there is a key difference which is where on the rode it is. In this case, it is kept very close to the bow (slightly farther away than the draft of the vessel). This works well because there is never very much load on the rode when you are in this situation because if there is enough rode, you will be lying more normally to your anchor. In my experience, using this method is usually the best way to go. It is the only time that I ever use a kellet.
Klem,
Thanks for the clarification. On my first read through of Vasco's post I didn't catch that the weight wasn't being placed all the way on the bottom. That is an interesting approach to this problem that the two of you discuss. I am actually looking forward to anchoring someplace with a tidal current so I can give it a try!

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post #8 of 10 Old 08-02-2012
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Re: ICW anchoring experiments

Where I grew up there are a lot of tidal estuaries with deep, soft mud bottoms and we made extensive use of mud weights. A large mud weight can be used to “anchor” a boat in a bottom where a conventional anchor won't set. A smaller one can be allowed to drag to control swing and makes a great kellet for a conventional anchor too.

Cheap and easy to make - Get a stainless mixing bowl and drill two holes in the bottom. Bolt a stainless u-bolt through the holes and fill with cement. Once you have a couple on-board, you’ll come up with all sorts of uses.

Edit: I should give credit - I stole the picture from The Norfolk Broads Forum.
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post #9 of 10 Old 08-02-2012
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Re: ICW anchoring experiments

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Klem,
Thanks for the clarification. On my first read through of Vasco's post I didn't catch that the weight wasn't being placed all the way on the bottom. That is an interesting approach to this problem that the two of you discuss. I am actually looking forward to anchoring someplace with a tidal current so I can give it a try!
Yeah, you really should - using a sentinel is SO much simpler than messing with multiple rodes... It can be a very effective device, I've never understood why they aren't used more widely. Setting one initially at about the waters depth is usually a good place to start...

Could be just me, but I'm not a fan of fore and aft anchoring at all, or at least in any situation other than a sort of Med moor or tying off to a steep-to shoreline... I certainly wouldn't advise it in a situation where the boat might be left unattended, particularly in changeable weather. If you're lying to fore and aft anchors when a squall comes thru in the middle of the night, it's quite likely your ground tackle can be subjected to loads far in excess of what they would be if the boat were simply swinging to a single anchor...

Finally, anchoring in tidal streams/reversing currents often requires a bit of patience, particularly if the holding is suspect... I'm often amazed when I see people come into a spot where the boat will soon be swinging on the hook, but they immediately jump in the dink and disappear... Whenever I go into a difficult anchorage like Nantucket, I always want to be aboard, or awake, for at least the first change of the current... Or, during an initial shoreside excursion in a place like the Bahamas, I definitely want to be able to at least eyeball my boat during the first tidal cycle...

Multiple anchors and rodes generally involve way more drama than is necessary in most situations, IMHO... I very rarely see the need for it, and will always try to avoid it if I can Placing anchors in tandem, however, is a different ballgame, and can be a VERY effective tactic if the situation calls for it...
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post #10 of 10 Old 08-03-2012
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Re: ICW anchoring experiments

Absolutely agree about two anchors being an invitation to trouble. When transiting the Hudson, I always run into all sorts of weird wind/current situations. I have tried many different double anchor methods and all are risky, unpredictable endeavors. You also increase the likelihood of fouling something on the bottom. The only time I will double anchor is if I know a storm is coming. Two anchors placed at a 45 degree angle off the bow work well in a high wind situation by dividing the load and, more importantly, by stopping the swinging.

I like the modified kellet idea and will try it. I have a bunch of old lead solder ingots which I've drilled 3/4" holes in. They should work with some sort of chafe-free attachment mechanism, maybe a caribiner.

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