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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 09-21-2010
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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.

F4

Last edited by F4d3d; 09-22-2010 at 12:45 AM.
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Old 09-21-2010
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Old 09-21-2010
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That's messed up. In hind sight, it might have been worth it to express your concern about them being in your swing circle when they first anchored. I always kind of figured that the boat anchored there first has the right of way, and that later boats should work to stay out of their way. Those Oh-dark-thirty anchor stories are always interesting over a couple of beers later on though.
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Old 09-21-2010
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This is infuriating- I hate this crap.

I have had people drop their anchor directly on top of my rode about halfway between me and my anchor, because they assumed they were way upwind of me only to accuse me of being "crazy," "inexperienced," and "paranoid" for using 7:1 or 10:1 scope in 30+ knot winds.

Apparently they shouldn't have to anchor somewhere else or put out more scope just because I'm crazy and paranoid.
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Old 09-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erps View Post
I always kind of figured that the boat anchored there first has the right of way, and that later boats should work to stay out of their way.
This only works of the later boats share this idea. My experience is that if they don't see a problem with anchoring right next to me- they won't see any reason why either of us should move.

Last edited by casioqv; 09-21-2010 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 09-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erps View Post
That's messed up. In hind sight, it might have been worth it to express your concern about them being in your swing circle when they first anchored. I always kind of figured that the boat anchored there first has the right of way, and that later boats should work to stay out of their way. Those Oh-dark-thirty anchor stories are always interesting over a couple of beers later on though.
I probably should have.

I guess at the time they dropped their hook, when there was no wind, I thought there would be enough room even though our circles were over top of each other. I mean, our anchors weren't on top of each other, so presumably if we both had out reasonable scope, things should be fine.
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Old 09-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by casioqv View Post
This only works of the later boats share this idea. My experience is that if they don't see a problem with anchoring right next to me- they won't see any reason why either of us should move.
That's a good point. Before they feel a need to solve the problem, they need to realize that there IS a problem.
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Old 09-21-2010
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I have had a similar experience, fortunately in the early evening.

We anchoring in Montague on 5:1. I went ashore to use the phone (this is before cell phone days). When I got back two power boats had anchored in my swing room. As anyone who has ever anchored there knows, the wind shifts near sundown from an onshore to an offshore breeze. I told them they needed to move as I was going to be swinging into them later. They refused.

I was below planning a night sail when one of students called me up; we were headed right for them, bow first. After a heated discussion I was convinced by the students to move into a hole near by.

One of the power boat guys yelled out "What kind of ass anchors on 200 feet?" Just then a large ketch went by, and the skipper on that boat indicated that he anchored out on 200 feet of chain.

By the way - you anchored in a manner which I regard as textbook perfect. The others were textbook perfect as well - idiots.
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Old 09-21-2010
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I never trust powerboaters to know how to anchor. Most have undersized ground tackle and no concept of how to set an anchor. Most also don't have a clue about scope and what is appropriate for given conditions.
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Old 09-21-2010
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You do have to stake your ground.. I absolutely agree with the concept that the early boat has seniority and should not be having to move to accommodate a situation with a boat that anchored too near afterwards. I've also re-anchored myself on many occasions after misjudging proximity and ending up uncomfortably close (and even then not that close) Even if I think it's OK, if the other boater indicates discomfort we'll move.

If we see someone pulling off a stunt like that, generally I assume what my wife calls my "unhappy with you" stance on the foredeck. We try to 'assume' that position early in the process so that the offender reconsiders before actually dropping the hook. The majority of the time that's all it takes. Other occasions I have asked/advised them that I think it's a bit tight and for the most part they'll try again somewhere else.

Then there's always the "you can deal with this now, or at 4 am.. your choice" speech as a back up.

But as we like to say in industry - you can make anything as idiot proof as you can think of - inevitably along comes a better class of idiot. There's not much you can do with such folk.

As much as it galls me to move myself in such circumstances, doing so will ultimately lead to a more comfortable, easier night for you and yours.
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