Join Date: May 2009
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Somewhat related, a few years back I was sailing the B.V.I. with my cousing and 2nd Uncle on his 42' Columbia, We needed to return our scuba gear to Blue Water Divers in Nanny Cay Marina, but there were no slips to pull into for the 15 minutes we needed to be there, even the fuel dock had a waiting list. He decided to drop anchor outside the harbor and run the gear in with the dinghy.
Weather was perfect, swells were 6-8ft with estimated 30-45 second intervals(normal conditions for winter) Sounder reported 20ft of water under the keel, so he dropped ~40ft of chain (i know, short on the scope, but remember we were only supposed to be there for ~20-30min, and not my call).
My cousin and I ran the scoba gear back to the dive shop and left my uncle and his GF on the boat, we returned to the boat about 40 minutes later and found that the swells had increased to about 10-12ft seas, and decreased the interval to 20-30 seconds. (which made for a very exciting and little bit slower then expected ride back in the dinghy!) This around 11am.
When we got to the boat we found the Pulpit ripped to peices, and the chain digging right into the gunwale of the boat and my Uncle looking at the damage rather confused as to how it happened, or what to do. Did I mention that he's not very skilled at handeling his boat, and very stubborn when you try to give him advice or suggestions like let out more anchor chain?
Turns out that he dropped anchor right over a 15-20ft deep shelf, so while the sounder said there was 20 ft of water under the keel, there was closer to 35-40 feet of water under the bow! The swells increasing, plus the effective scope around 1:1 to begin with, it just ripped the bow apart...
After letting out about 50-75 feet more chain, and putting someone at the helm to keep boat from pulling any more on the anchor chain, I took the pony bottle and some snorkeling mask / fins and dove down to try and pull the anchor free but it was now under the shelf and very solidly in place. So I used 2 dock spring lines attached end to end, and tied one end around a half dozen life jackets and then down through the ring where the trip line would go, and then back up to the life jackets to create a 2:1 purchase, and then started pulling line until the all of the life jackets were fully submerged when the swells passed overhead. I then tied the line off and dove back down and gave a few solid tugs on the anchor, but now with an estimated 800lbs of lift from the 6 life jackets above (est 125-150lbs of lift from each when fully submerged) and it came free and floated up and over the shelf.
All that was left was to pull in 125ft of anchor chain by hand, and secure the anchor.
With everything wrapped up around 4pm, we made our way back into the marina and paid for a slip to stay the night and get some sleep... Caught a cab to West Marine the next morning and picked up a wide assortment of bolts, screws and metal flanges, and re-assembled and re-attached the pulpit enough that the anchor could be used again (in fairly calm, protected waters at least) for the remainder of the return trip to Puerto Rico...
Four Points - 1990 Hunter 27'
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