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After several years of crewing on boats, and doing some basic day sailing, my wife and I recently completed our RYA Day Skipper certifications in Brittany. Wanting to reinforce what we learned, we decided to book our first charter in Turkey, and just completed it about two weeks ago. We've had some time to reflect on the trip, and analyze what went well and what didn't. Seeing as there is so much collective wisdom and years of seamanship on the forum, I thought I'd solicit some feedback on what we might have done differently, and how we can improve.

In general, we felt we had a steep learning curve based on two fronts: Meltami winds, and med anchoring/mooring. We hired a skipper for our first day out, just so we could get used to the boat and solicit some advice on anchoring. I'll just say that the skipper wasn't too helpful, and spent a fair amount of time on his cell phone. There was definite a language barrier, as he was a Turk, but ultimately it was apparent that he didn't want to be there that day, and couldn't wait to get off the boat.

The next few couple of days went well, as we cruised the Gulf of Gökova in 10kt winds, and got used to the boat. Anchoring with stern to lines was a bit of a challenge, but nothing we couldn't ultimately handle. The trickiest thing was finding good, uncrowded anchorages (even at this late point in the season).

By mid week a storm was predicted and the winds were to shift from the usual Meltemi NW to SE (25-30kts). We decided to head to Kormen, which had a restaurant jetty inside a breakwater, as it appeared well protected from the predicted SE wind. As we anchored for lunch I called the charter base about a technical problem we were having, and while talking to the base manager he informed me that Kormen was not an option as they were rebuilding the quay, and it was closed to boat traffic. This left us with two options: come back the way we came, or head to an anchorage in the very small hamlet of Mersincik. Since we wanted to explore the ancient town of Knidos the next day, which is near Mersincik, we chose the latter.

We reached the anchorage late in the day, and discovered two Turkish boats already anchored. We took up position to port of both, dropped all our chain (50m), and tied a stern line to a large rock. Depth was about 12m, and we were about 10m to the shore (which was very rocky). The Turkish pilot guide stated that the holding was suspect in places, and was sand and weed. We were able, however, to successfully set the anchor, we took transits, and we set an anchor alarm. By this point it was dark. We were closer than we liked to the boat on our left (about 10m), but the storm was starting to roll in, and it was dark, so we stayed put, rather than try to the whole process again. The skipper of the boat next to us said that there was going to be very strong wind overnight, and that we needed to have all our chain out. I told him we already did. Obviously, he was concerned when he saw a charter boat roll up next to him, but he didn't ask that we move. I put out our fenders on port and also tied our dinghy up on the port side.

Winds started to really pick up as bedtime approached. We didn't initially set up an anchor watch. However, sleep was difficult, as we were both anxious about the situation. At about 2:00 a.m. all hell seemed to be breaking loose. Wind was coming straight on our starboard beam, and the rigging was howling. We noticed both skippers were active on their boats. The skipper two boats over was pulling anchor and leaving the anchorage. This didn't make us feel much better about the situation, so we set up an anchor watch. I stayed up from about 2:00 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., and kept watch on our position and our lines, as the storm came through in bands of wind, lashing rain, and lightning. However, things seemed to be holding.

At 5:30 a.m. I woke my wife, and she took the cockpit. Only ten minutes later, I heard a bang, and went topsides to see what was happening. She was not in the cockpit, and I feared she'd gone overboard. However, she was at the mast working on something. A small portion of the sail had popped out of it's stack pack, and according to my wife, the boat had been pushed hard to port, as the winds continued hard on the starboard beam. We fought to get the sail back in place, but noticed the boat was now out of position and moving closer to the boat next us. We were still tied hard to stern, but were dangerously close to the shoreline rocks, and with each gust we seemed to get closer to our neighbor. I cranked up the engine and used it to guide our bow away, but with each gust we would be brought back into precarious position. It seemed obvious to me, at this point, that we were dragging anchor. I am guessing that our issue with the mainsail helped dislodge it.

The sun was starting to rise. After about five minutes of maneuvering under power, I told my wife that I thought we should pull anchor and get out of the anchorage. We contemplated what we needed to do. I suggested we abandon the stern line, but she didn't want to do so. I ended up jumping in the dinghy to release from the shore, while she took the helm. As she pulled away with me pulling myself back via the stern line, she started drifting into our neighbor, who by this time was on deck and helping fend our boat off.

We were now free at our stern, but keeping the boat in position to bring the anchor up was proving a challenge. It was a small anchorage with rocks on three sides, so I was mostly concerned with keeping the boat off the shore. As the anchor finally came up, my wife yelled back that we had fouled our neighbors anchor, and she brought it up with ours. Neither of us knew what to do. I tried to keep the boat in position, as the Turkish skipper jumped in his dinghy and make his way to our bow. After about five minutes, he and my wife were able to get his anchor free, and we finally pulled out of the anchorage.

We had nowhere else to anchor, and were fairly freaked at this point, so with bare poles, we decided to motor across to Bodrum. Winds were still about 25-30kts, and seas were about 2m. After a 3 hour crossing of the gulf, we were finally able to take a little shelter.

So, there is our story. Honestly, we were both shaken enough that the final day of our charter we decided to stay in port. The winds were still very strong, and we weren't feeling up to it. As I said at the outset, we've had time to think it over, and discuss what we think we did right and wrong. Generally, we think we've got a good handle on how we'd do it next time, but I'd love to hear from others.

Thanks!
 

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Congrats on getting out of that without major problems.

We do a lot of stern tying in our region.. fortunately, in summer, overnight strong winds are very rare.

One thing with shore lines is to always try to have the stern/shore line led ashore and back to the boat so you can fully release AND retrieve it from the boat. This calls for a longer spool, and occasionally you'll be too far off the beach to use it that way, but if you can you should do so.

Strong winds (or currents) abeam is the worst situation with stern ties.. it puts exponentially higher loads on the anchor. So it's even more important to be certain you are thoroughly set. Other boats' proximities are also problematic.. and with this setup your most secure attachment is to the beach, so that's where you're going if the anchor lets go.

I think you did well to get out of there.. and were lucky to be able to extricate yourself in daylight. Ultimately it was probably not the best place to hook up in light of the fact that this storm was known to be on the way, but that's hindsight... and there probably weren't many better options besides spending the night at sea.. again, in hindsight, could you have made the 3 hour passage the evening before?? May have been the better call.
 
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When it comes to anchor watches, whenever I know bad weather is coming, I always sleep in the cockpit. That way, it is easy to sit up and look around, at the slightest hint that something is not right. It's too easy to talk yourself into staying in the bunk when below.

And, it easy to check the GPS to see what's going on, even on a dark night. I always make the location of my set anchor a waypoint. That way, no matter which way the wind blows or changes, you know that the distance to the waypoint, shouldn't really be changing that much. If it starts to increase, you know you have a problem.
 
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This left us with two options: come back the way we came, or head to an anchorage in the very small hamlet of Mersincik. Since we wanted to explore the ancient town of Knidos the next day, which is near Mersincik, we chose the latter.
boo - a quick check of Google Earth shows the small Mersincik anchorage to be wide open to the SE winds with a rocky shore alee.

With the stakes at hand - being blown onto a rocky shore and losing the boat and perhaps your lives and adjacent boats as well - a decision to anchor there to preserve a scheduled visit to Knidos seems…well…you know.

Taking haven "the way we came" or staying at sea are significantly better choices as I think you found out. With a reliable engine and the ability to heave to and the ability to beat to windward (uncomfortable but possible) you would have been much safer at sea.

Experience is what you have right after you needed it.
 

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I love that last comment "Experience is what you have right after you needed it". That's exactly the way we felt/feel. A few things on setting up in that anchorage:

1. Recommended by the base manager
2. Local boats anchored there
3. Out of time to find anything else, and we couldn't put to sea at night in a charter boat
4. The winds while predicted to be SE, seemed to shift all night. Most of the time they seemed to be coming mostly out of the SSW. Technically, we were protected from that direction, but were still getting hammered.

With all that said, I agree that it was not, at all, a good place to be. And, as Faster stated in a previous comment, we were probably better to make the crossing to Bodrum the evening before the storm, or as you suggest, turn back.

Thanks for all the feedback, so far!
 

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Great story, especially the bit about the uselessness of skippers one hires to teach. Learn yourself. :)

In a blow I would never anchor tied to a shore. As you found out the wind never comes from the right direction. You were being pushed hard from one side. Could have been disasterous.
They do it in the med because there is no tide and its convenient. Also at time the bays are deep. But it's only a convenience, it's NOT safer than anchoring in the middle of the bay where the boat can swing bow to the wind.

The same error is made in the tropics for hurricanes and cyclones. People hear about mangroves and go tie to them. that's not what's meant by ting into mangroves. The idea is to find a little creek SURROUNDED by mangroves and the tide deep into them where nothing can reach you. But to tie close to shore is death on wheels.

50 meters of chain seems like a lot, especially when converted to feet, but it's not.

Two nights ago I came into an anchorage and the weather was deteriorating, and in 4 meters of water I had out 20 meters to pull the anchor in and then let out ten more to 30 meters, and then later out to 50 meters. Another boat came in later and parked upwind of me.... And dragged 300 meters through the anchorage colliding with the boat next to me. I was told the next day because I was ashore drunk and disorderly chatting up some hot chic and stuffing my face. Perfect night after a pretty horrible 4 day passage.

I think I need to get drunk again....... Now!
 

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It sounds like you were doing ok, up until the point where the sail got free. I don't have a stackpack but, I typically put additional ties around my mainsail cover if I know a blow is coming. One of my mainsail ties always goes through the head cringle and is tied down around the boom, so the sail can't set itself.
 

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To your point, the boat that pulled out of the smaller anchorage at 0200 was just around the corner when we left, and was free swinging. That larger anchorage felt much more exposed to or novice eyes, as we were arriving, but in hindsight I agree that we would have been better to not tie stern to. Where we ended up anchoring, the two already anchored boats were tied stern to, so we needed to do the same. There wasn't enough swinging room in the small inlet.
 

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To your point, the boat that pulled out of the smaller anchorage at 0200 was just around the corner when we left, and was free swinging. That larger anchorage felt much more exposed to or novice eyes, as we were arriving, but in hindsight I agree that we would have been better to not tie stern to. Where we ended up anchoring, the two already anchored boats were tied stern to, so we needed to do the same. There wasn't enough swinging room in the small inlet.
Yes, you do always have consider the practices of those already anchored as you decide how to 'fit in'.
 

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I love that last comment "Experience is what you have right after you needed it". That's exactly the way we felt/feel. A few things on setting up in that anchorage:

1. Recommended by the base manager
2. Local boats anchored there
3. Out of time to find anything else, and we couldn't put to sea at night in a charter boat
4. The winds while predicted to be SE, seemed to shift all night. Most of the time they seemed to be coming mostly out of the SSW. Technically, we were protected from that direction, but were still getting hammered.

With all that said, I agree that it was not, at all, a good place to be. And, as Faster stated in a previous comment, we were probably better to make the crossing to Bodrum the evening before the storm, or as you suggest, turn back.

Thanks for all the feedback, so far!
As you say, in hindsight it was not a good idea to be there. But I can see how it all happened and all of the above could have happened to me. Where I think (hope) I would have done things differently is abandoning the stern line, even if it meant overruling the wife. From the situation you described, it seemed clear that slipping the line would have you collide with the other boat, which is exactly what happened. I think (rather, hope again) that I would have preferred to come back for the line the next day, or even pay for it if that would have been necessary, rather than risking a potentially costly and dangerous collision
 

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On a number of occasions, I've anchored in spots that LOOKED like they would be appropriate for the predicted wind only to find out that land configurations completely altered the actual direction of wind in that particular spot. Wind will follow land contours and shorelines and so will the rough water. This is one of those local knowledge issues. The idiot who recommended you anchor there should have known better.
 

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What about the two local boats that were anchored there? At the time, I felt like they must have known where to be. By the looks of their boats and gear, they were not new to the seas.
 

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I suggested we abandon the stern line, but she didn't want to do so. I ended up jumping in the dinghy to release from the shore, while she took the helm. As she pulled away with me pulling myself back via the stern line, she started drifting into our neighbor, who by this time was on deck and helping fend our boat off.
This is the specific place where the judgement went wrong.
On a boat someone has to be responsible, the captain.
If that person was you when you left the boat you left it with someone who was not able to handle the boat in those conditions.

If that person was your wife then she took solo control of the boat when she did not have the ability to do so.

According to your report the only reason you guys survived ok was due to the heroics of your neighbors. And yes I would consider having to board someone elses boat to help them in a storm heroics.

All to save a couple-hundred bucks in rope.

On the other had I applaud your wife for being such an active participant and help.
In the future the use the Lynn and Larry Pardee strategy. If their is disagreement between married partners the safest course is chosen.
 

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Boofit,

Bravo posting your story. We all benefit.

Regards,
Brad
 

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Faster and Mark had already said that but I will repeat because it is the most common error in the Med: Unless that someone is absolutely sure that the wind comes from land right on the stern or very close anchoring tied to land is an error. There are the wide spread misconception that if the boat is tied to land and on anchor it should be better (tied to 2 places) even if the wind is abeam.

As Faster explained that's a big error, the wind has more surface to pull on the lateral side of the boat than on the bow and most of all the anchor is being pulled sideways instead of in line. Both things combined make the holding much more poor.

Another thing to avoid in a storm on anchor is the possibility to be pulled to land quickly if the anchor drags. It seems obvious but I explain what I mean: In the position you were, with wind abeam, if the anchor started to drag you would be pulled quickly to land with the boat rotating. you would be in a very difficult position regarding to take out the anchor and go out of that spot.

The ideal situation is to be near shore facing the wind with a lot of space behind. Near shore you will get more protection and if you start to drag that would not be a problem, You will have plenty of time. You will need only to go forward, pull the anchor and set it up again with the help of an auxiliary second anchor. Contrary to the other situation you will have plenty of time and the boat will be easy to handle not being pulled against another sailboat or to land.

Regarding charter boats other important thing is to know what anchor the boat has and if it is a really bad one that can be a deal breaker. you can learn about anchors on this forum. Search and you will get plenty of information.

This story about the importance of the anchor can seem a bit odd but I charted once one a new beautiful Salona 41 with a very crappy anchor and that served me as warning. That anchor would not have hold the boat on 30K winds, I am pretty sure. I was lucky.

Even in what regards reasonable anchors, a Delta, the more used anchor on modern boats, included charters, on sand has only half the hold of a top anchor like a Rocna or a Spade. On my boat that has one of those anchors I know that I will only drag after the other boats start to drag and that had already happened more than one time, I mean not me dragging significantly but having to be awake to take my boat from the way of boats that were dragging.

Regards

Paulo
 

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Reminds me.. last summer we were typically anchored in a raft of two, both anchors out and a single line ashore. We got an unusual crosswind just at dusk. Not storm or even gale force, but enough (near enough to sacktime) to be worrisome.

I tried something that I'd wondered about before, and moved the stern/shore line to the bow.. this allowed both boats to pivot to the wind, putting much less windage/drag on our anchor rode/shore line combo. The squall passed in a couple of hours but we sat happily like that all night. I'll be keeping that in our repertoire for the future.

In the OP's case it sounds like he'd not have had enough clearance to the next boat to try this.. so you do have to watch for that in crowded conditions.
 

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Sailing experience is a quality that one acquires just after one really needs it! You did well. We all make mistakes and learn from them, using your dingy as a fender was an excellent choice. We all have been in this situation, like they say hindsight is 20/20 My best advice is to get back out there and keep making mistakes, its how we all became sailors :)
I think it is appropriate to plug Rocna anchors here the world best anchor. Get one and you will be Rocna-ed to sleep every night.
Disclaimer I am not affiliated in any way shape or form with said company.
 

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You know how on some boats you sweat up the halyard. That is someone keeps a tail on the halyard while someone at the mast pulls the halyard away from the mast until the mainsail goes up a few inches. The amount of leverage you get this way rivals the leverage you get with a winch. In fact if you have a broken winch this method will work to raise the sail.

When you think about it if you have an anchor forward and have a stern line aft tied to land a side load is effectively sweating the anchor out of its holding.

Same principles in play just that they are working against you instead of for you.

If you look it at that way it is amazing the anchor held as long as it did.
 

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Glad you got out alright. The major problems as I see it were as follows.

1 - you let your schedule dictate your course of action.

2 - you selected an anchorage that was small and already had 2 boats in it.

3 - you did not have a viable back up anchorage

4 - you selected an anchorage with poor holding

5 - you had inadequete scope

6 - you selected a lee shore anchorage despite the forecast.

7 - you let someone else determine the anchorage for you

8 - you timed your arrival at a new anchorage at dusk

9 - you were not fully aware of the dynamics of tying a stern line to shore

10 - you failed to be solely in charge

This is quite an extensive list and is evidence of how things can snowball.
 
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