A Night on the Hook
A long story...
A friend and I were recently on a sailing trip in the Gulf Islands. She had no previous experience sailing, but we had been out on this trip for about two weeks already, so she was decently comfortable at the helm for short periods of time when we were underway, and for anchoring.
We had overnighted at a nice little spot, and since there were 30 knot NW winds forecast for that evening, we decided to just stay put, since we had decent shelter there. Our ground tackle consisted of a 25lb danforth anchor, 25m (82ft) of chain, and 40m (131ft) of double braided nylon, and since we were anchored in 10m (33ft) of water, we had every bit of rode out that we had - which was a little better than 6:1 scope. This made for a a lot of swing when the wind changed directions, but we had lots of room, so I was quite satisfied.
While we were there, a power boat pulled up near us and dropped his hook, and shortly after was joined by another power boat who rafted up with him. He was definitely in our circle of swing, but assuming that he had adequate scope out, I thought we wouldn't swing into each other if/when the wind changed direction.
The wind started to blow quite strongly at about 10 pm. We still had decent distance from the other vessels, and I went forward to make sure everything was okay at the bow roller and anchor cleat. The rode was pulled quite taut, but had a nice angle of entry into the water, and there was no vibration in the rode when I felt it, so I figured with the 40m nylon and 25m of chain attached to the anchor, I guessed our holding would be pretty solid. So we went to bed.
You know how you never sleep really deeply when you're in a strong blow? Well, that was the case for me that night. We were in the V-berth, so I could hear the bow roller creaking in it's usual fashion, and was quite aware of the consistent sound. I poked my head up a couple of times to see the position of the other boats, and each time, everything was okay - we were not slipping.
At about 3 am, I awoke to voices and a bright light shining into our port lights. I bolted out of bed and ran up to the deck to discover that we were right beside them - within meters. The wind had changed, and we were swinging right into them. They yelled "you're slipping! You're slipping". I ran forward and felt the anchor rode - no vibration, it felt solid. I ran back and looked at the GPS which showed that our circle of swing had not changed and everything looked as though our anchor had not moved. I yelled back to them (the wind was howling, so even this close we had to yell) that I didn't think we were slipping, and told them that I thought that we were swinging within our circle. They were convinced we were slipping, and even though in my mind we were not slipping, I was groggy from the rude awakening, and they convinced me to haul up the anchor and re-set it.
So we did the unpleasant task of re-setting the anchor, in a 30 knot blow, with an inexperienced person at the helm, in the middle of the night. When I was hauling the anchor, at the point where I was pulling directly up on the anchor, I realized with absolute certainty that our anchor was set properly. It was buried so deep, I could barely move it. I pulled so hard (by hand, no electric windlass) I nearly broke my back. I thought I should just leave it where it was, but by then I had pulled so hard I thought maybe I had better bring it up since maybe I had unset it with all the pulling. Anyways, once the anchor was clear, the Admiral circled around and put us back on the GPS mark we had originally made when we dropped the hook, and I sent the ground tackle down again. We slowly backed away, releasing rode as we went, and then pulled hard on it to set it. We ended up in the exact same spot we were before.
It was only then that I thought about confirming with the other boats what amount of rode they had out. (I was groggy, remember?) And so I asked them, "how much rode do you have out?", and they told me "85ft." What?! This was crazy! Two big power boats rafted together, with loads of windage, in a 30 knot blow, in 33 ft of water, with 85 ft of rode out! Less than 3:1 scope! Were they on crack? When I asked them to let out more scope, they said it was too dangerous since they had a snubber harness (bridal) attached. So there they are, all four of them, refusing to let out more scope to prevent a collision, because it's too dangerous to remove their snubber! Yet they were quite happy to have me and my one (inexperienced) crew member pull up my anchor and re-set it. WTF! Instead, they wanted me to reduce my scope.
I started to lose my patience when they said that they hoped I had good insurance. I told them that since we were there first, they had to give us berth, and I hoped that they had good insurance. I also told them that less than 3:1 scope in 30 knot winds, was absolutely inadequate for good holding. Eventually, they decided to let out some more scope, and of course after that, the vessels sat a safe distance apart, and everything was fine. But I sure didn't sleep well for the rest of the night.
As a side note, I dropped my brand new LED dive light overboard, while unnecessarily pulling up my anchor in the middle of the night. The bastards.
Last edited by F4d3d; 09-22-2010 at 12:45 AM.