We felt like water taxi, painkillers, crowds, noise, and mediocre food, so we headed to Annapolis yesterday. Seems like the entire Chesapeake Bay went there too, including several boats from our own marina whose owners we ran into while walking around town. All the locals, including the water taxi captains (who know everything) said it was the busiest they've seen all summer, and were puzzled why. Their best guess is that it was the first cool night in months, so everyone headed there in hopes of finding a mooring ball.
The people we met who had gotten mooring balls anywhere in Spa Creek said they were filled by Friday afternoon (even the ones past the bridge), and virtually nobody left on Saturday, so if you didn't get there on Friday you were SOL. There was a fast growing group of a couple dozen boats of a variety of sizes (up to about 80' long) anchoring just outside the front forty. I had always thought that this was a prohibited zone, so I asked a nearby water taxi and he said everyone anchors there and doesn't get in trouble, so we found a nice open spot in the middle of all the rest and dropped anchor. For safety I noted all of our neighbors: a Catalina 387 that I recognized from Rock Hall ~200 yards ahead of us to port; a beautiful navy blue Beneteau(?) ~42', ~200 yards ahead to starboard; a C&C 39 a few hundred yards almost directly ahead of us; and ~70' two-story motor yacht with garish yellow hull directly to port. I was concerned about us having a poor set due to the "bowl" shape and questionable bottom composition, but we held at full throttle reverse.
On the water taxi into the City Dock we met the C&C 39 owners and had a nice talk. Somehow we got on the subject of anchors (they said they have a Rocna, and I said I had something similar but by a different manufacturer). We talked about difficult holding conditions where they were. I told them I put out 5:1 scope, and he said "that's more than we put out." I joked with them that my boat's name is "Breakin' Away," a great name for racing, but not so great for anchoring.
But I told them I had set an anchor alarm, so once I got back to the boat I'd know if we had problems holding.
We visited a few of my wife's favorite galleries and boutiques, went to Pussers for Painkillers and appetizers, Federal House for dinner (salads for both of us), and Annapolis Ice Cream for dessert (cinnamon with Heath Bar topping, our favorite), and returned to the boat around 9:30. On the water taxi we met the couple with the Catalina 387 from Rock Hall. They told me a story about how they had once dragged anchor 500 yards while they were having dinner because they had anchored on the edge of "the bowl." This got us mighty nervous.
We returned to the boat and found that the wind had clocked almost 180 degress, now blowing toward the USNA seawall instead of away from it. My anchor alarm showed that we had moved by about the length of our scope. I looked around at all the neighboring boats. Things were a little different because we had all clocked around, but most appeared to be in the same place (within the margin of scope), except for one of them. The C&C 39 was now directly next to us, and only about 50' away (barely more than a boat length). The boat was totally dark inside. We had taken a walk on the USNA grounds before sunset and saw the couple on their boat, so I assumed they had gone to bed early. I did not have the heart to wake them, so I put a bunch of fenders on my boat and went down below to watch a DVD with my wife ("The Finest Hours", a fitting title for on a boat), planning to wake them after the movie only if I had to. About halfway through the movie I noticed a green nav light just outside my window, so went above to check things out. "I think we dragged a bit while we were sleeping, so we're going to move." I pointed out which boats were their former neighbors, and politely estimated that they had dragged about 300 yards. He was very apologetic, and said he noticed that I had put out a bunch of fenders. I said, "Well, I didn't want to wake you." I wished them well, and told them I hoped they would sleep OK. It was all very friendly and cordial. But I slept a lot better knowing that they weren't there any more.
The next morning the wind had clocked back around again, blowing away from USNA. The C&C 39 was in their new spot a few hundred yards away, so apparently they held better this time. I noticed some other new neighbors who either came in after dark or dragged there from elsewhere. The morning had been very rolly, as boat traffic was heavy and started early. We made French Toast for breakfast and joined the mass exodus before noon.
Bottom composition was interesting. Our chain came up fully clean. There was very little muck on our anchor. What was there seemed like sandy mud, with a few gravel pellets and a couple clam shells. I think the sand made for a clean chain, and may also create holding problems for some anchor types.
We had planned to take Monday off work and find a quiet anchorage for tonight, but my wife got some disturbing medical news about her father this morning and we just didn't feel right enjoying our boat with our Chicago relatives in such distress. So we're home now, but thankful for a nice weekend.