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post #1 of 21 Old 04-25-2010 Thread Starter
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Question Anchoring

Question for the experienced. Today I sailed to a secluded strip of beach on the northeast coast of the lake. One of those places you can't get to by car and no one around in sight. In fact, even though I have lived in the area all my life, I never even knew it existed. This said, I wanted to go ashore and walk that nice sandy beach and take video. Here is the problem, the wind and waves were just a bit too extreme to consider anchoring. Plus I did not want to get too close to the shore and risk running aground so I filmed offshore as I passed on by it. This has me wondering, what if when I do sail out to cat island, I run into this same problem? In other words I do a 15hr sail and then get to the island only to realized the conditions keep me from anchoring my boat and going ashore. The only answer I can come up with for the island is to sail to the downwind side of the island where hopefully the conditions are more practical for anchoring at least for one night. For the coast, I have no ideas. So I can really use some tips regarding anchoring such as the do's and don'ts. I am well aware you can't just drop anchor anywhere in certain conditions. I may not get that nice still evening with my sails dropped and the sunset over the glassey water that is seen in many sailing pics.
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post #2 of 21 Old 04-26-2010
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sure it's not a good start to drop the anchor on a leeward coast. Your Idea to try the more sheltered side on an island is what most skippers would do. - If there is a problem you may find yourself drifting out at sea - not onto the beach. And if that happens - be sure it will be while you are asleep :-)

On the other hand if the winds are light and the gear ist ok, it sould not be a problem. I always keep well off the beaches and prefere to have a longer trip in the dingy for a secure anchorage. Maybe to give some hints it might be helpful to have som information: Boatsize/-type, anchoring gear... Cause I would not mind to stay close to a beach having a Hoby-Cat on a 50kg Anchor and no chain... but I would not do so with a 65 Foot Yacht... you see?

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post #3 of 21 Old 04-26-2010
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If it is a lee shore I would be very cautious. I might try to anchor near it, but only if conditions were good enough for me to sail off the shore if i needed to, I say sail off because I wouldn't want everything to depend on whether the motor works or not. Also, when in doubt, drop your storm anchor.

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post #4 of 21 Old 04-26-2010
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Sounds like you need a chart, and or a depth sounder. When you say the conditions would not allow you to anchor. What were the conditions, and what kind of ground tackle do you have? Do you have a dink to get to shore? Many times when you have the right tackle you can still anchor on a windward shore. Sometimes it's getting out of the dink where the problem occurs. In the cruising world there will be times when it becomes sport to watch people try, and land their dinks... ........i2f

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post #5 of 21 Old 04-26-2010
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Take the forecast into consideration. Try and anchor for what is going to happen not just what is happening. Dan S/V Marian Claire
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post #6 of 21 Old 04-26-2010 Thread Starter
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My boat is an oday 22 which has a fixed keel with retractable dagger board. From what I was told, it can go in areas as shallow as 3ft. Although I don't think I will try that. Right now I only have 1 anchor and its not very big. I never used it since I got my boat, lucky if it is even 25lbs. It will work in calm areas but I doubt in more aggressive conditions. I have an inflatable yak to use for a dinghy. Would it be a good idea to invest in a larger heavier anchor for use tougher conditions?
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post #7 of 21 Old 04-26-2010
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All the advice so far has been good but we still don't really know what to expect.

What type of anchor do you have? Please describe it or post a photo. Different types set better in different bottom types, have different holding power, and will reset more or less easily if the wind shifts. Very few anchors have all of these qualities, so it's important to know what you're getting into.

I have anchored on a "lee shore" a few times (probably about half the time actually) but the wind was very light and the anchorage was fairly sheltered.

What lake are you on?

edit: found out you're on Lake Ponchartrain (this would be convenient to have in your profile, btw). In addition to the advice you're getting around here regarding general strategy and technique, I recommend grabbing a local cruising guide or having a look at activecaptain.com (accounts are free). It's sort of a forum but instead of messages, boaters post their local knowledge on a map. There's some info there about anchoring at Cat Island, for instance. Cruising guides can also be useful but tend to be low on detail.

Another good resource is the U.S. Coast Pilot 5 (available at United States Coast Pilot®. For you area it will refer quite often to charts 11369, 11371, and 11372, so make sure you have those and keep them updated. The Coast Pilot will generally have good information about navigating the area in terms of currents, winds, hazards, distances, aids, anchorages, services, bridges, commercial traffic, etc. etc. It's primarily intended for commercial vessels but it refers to small craft as well, and hey, your tax dollars are paying for it.

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post #8 of 21 Old 04-26-2010
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Generally, as a rule, you should never anchor off a lee shore. The reason is simple... if your ground tackle fails for any reason, you're going to end up hard aground. You generally want the wind to blow you away from land and other hazards, not into them. Same with the current.

You can anchor in even pretty horrific winds, provided you do it correctly.

For example, a few years ago we went out for a daysail... but the wind turned out to be much stronger than originally forecasted, and blowing directly out of the direction we'd need to go to get back to our home harbor. The increased wind also made our original destination untenable, as the wind was out of the NW and Menemsha's entrance faces NW... not a fun idea to try and go in when the wind and tide are opposed...and the harbor wouldn't have been very well protected given the NW winds.

I decided that because of the new forecast, 30 knots gusting up to 40 something... we'd head over to Tarpaulin Cove, which faces southeast. This meant that we'd be in the lee of Nashuon Island. When we got there, there were twenty or so boats hiding in Tarpaulin Cove. As we got in to the cove where the water was about 10' deep, there was almost no wind, due to being in the lee of the island. We dropped anchor and fired up the BBQ grill. Spent the night there and then sailed back the next morning.

Study the charts of Catalina Island... and mark the various anchorages and what directions of wind they're most sheltered from. Then, when you do sail out to Catalina Island, you can base your plans on what the predicted wind direction is going to be... and since you've already scouted the anchorages on the charts previously, you'll have a pretty good idea of where to set the hook.

The same thing can usually be done with any stretch of coast line. There will be points, harbors, and coves that will be protected in slightly different directions. Unfortunately, the Pacific coast of the US has some very long stretches that are fairly lacking in the way of sheltered harbors... much like the coast of New Jersey.


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Originally Posted by sailguy40 View Post
Question for the experienced. Today I sailed to a secluded strip of beach on the northeast coast of the lake. One of those places you can't get to by car and no one around in sight. In fact, even though I have lived in the area all my life, I never even knew it existed. This said, I wanted to go ashore and walk that nice sandy beach and take video. Here is the problem, the wind and waves were just a bit too extreme to consider anchoring. Plus I did not want to get too close to the shore and risk running aground so I filmed offshore as I passed on by it. This has me wondering, what if when I do sail out to cat island, I run into this same problem? In other words I do a 15hr sail and then get to the island only to realized the conditions keep me from anchoring my boat and going ashore. The only answer I can come up with for the island is to sail to the downwind side of the island where hopefully the conditions are more practical for anchoring at least for one night. For the coast, I have no ideas. So I can really use some tips regarding anchoring such as the do's and don'ts. I am well aware you can't just drop anchor anywhere in certain conditions. I may not get that nice still evening with my sails dropped and the sunset over the glassey water that is seen in many sailing pics.

Sailingdog

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post #9 of 21 Old 04-26-2010
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If you're contemplating cruising Mississippi Sound (ie Cat Island, Ship, Horn Islands), it may be wisest to keep your cruising schedule loose. Strong northerly? That's a good day to make time east or west, and to pick a harbor along the Miss/Ala coast, a windward shore. Then wait for the usual summer southerly and you can anchor along the barrier islands as a windward shore, in confidence.
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post #10 of 21 Old 04-26-2010
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SD: after a bit of sleuthing it looks like "Cat Island" is an island in an estuary of the Gulf of Mexico, but I thought he meant Catalina at first as well.

However sailingdog's point about knowing what anchorages will work in what winds is a good one. If your primary plan is to make Cat Island, whose south side looks to be fairly well sheltered from north through east winds, then make sure you have backup plans for other anchorages in case of south or west winds.

I have had very few multiday voyages where I got to spend every night exactly where I planned. You may be disappointed at first if you find you can't safely get to such-and-such destination that you were really hoping for, but you will have a good time regardless... a better time, in fact, knowing that you behaved in a seamanlike fashion

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