Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The last time I anchored a boat of any kind was just after the new
year in 1984. I remember how to do it in broad strokes--prepare the
spot, ready the anchor and drop it, slow back the boat until enough
rode is let out. This morning we got out books to review the process
and vocabulary.

We are very familiar with mooring to a floating can in Monroe Harbor
and we're improving at docking and entering slips head first. By
comparison, anchoring should be a simple extension of mooring to a
can. The books are helpful, but I can't believe that anyone would ever
sail at all if they had to read and understand Chapman (the bible of
boating) before they sailed. Chapman's jargon is dense. I understand
only every third word.

By noon we had checked the anchor and rode and were ready to practice
anchoring. We heard in Leland that Omena bay had a good anchorage and
it was on the way to or next harbor at Northport. The wind was light
and on our nose, so sailing was not in order. Instead we would
concentrate on anchoring.

As we got closer to Omena, we could see that it was picturesque. Sandy
shores, trees and houses mingled together. The were a few boats at
anchor near a beach and what must be the village center.

As we got closer were realized that the water level decreased rapidly.
We circled a possible snchoring spot a couple of times, but it went
from very shallow to too deep very quickly. We moved on a bit and
found the same issue--wildly fluctuation depths. Then, Beth said "we
are stuck." Sure enough, I good see the bottom all the way around the

I'd read in a magazine the a keel could often be freed from the bottom
sand by shaking the boat from side-to-side. The picture in the
magazine showed multiple beefy men leaning out over the beam. I could
see how that might help, but I wasn't sure if Beth and I could put
enough weight into the maneuver. I tried shaking the shrouds while
Beth reversed the boat. In seconds we were free!

Lesser sailors would have abandoned the lesson there and then, but not us. We persevered. Explored the bay a little more to starboard and spied a diving bird--was it the loon? Oops! stuck in the sand again! Deeper than before.

I circled the boat to see how deep it was and where it might be deeper. I could clearly the bottom sand. There was a bit of deeper water off our starboard quarter (thanks to Bob for the "quarter"), but reverse and full reverse did not get us free. I began shaking the shrouds to rock the boat in hope of loosening us. No go. Beth and I had a conference. We decided to shake the boat and use full reverse simultaneously. "It's free," Beth shouted, but I could not feel any motion. She was right, though. We were moving ever so slowing back to deeper water. Within a few feet it was 60 feet. 

A boat had just entered the bay and anchored ahead of us. The owner, Glen (it turned out) was now in his dinghy and rowing toward us. He was either going to scold us (Beth's theory) or give us assistance (mine). It turned out he did neither although he would have given us assistance had we needed it. We told him our story--anchor practice step 1, find a suitable spot. He applauded our practice. He said most sailors don't practice and do it badly, but this was not a good bay to practice in. Its bottom was too uneven. Glen, it turned out was a sailing instructor and taught anchoring. He listen to our story some more and offered his own advice while we drifted our boats. Glen had been anchored the previous night when a strong wind began to blow. He was up most of the night worrying about whether his anchor would hold and whether or not to set a second one. Setting a second anchor during a strong wind is dangerous. One must get in a dinghy with the second anchor and place it about 45-degrees off of the first anchor. It's better to do that before the wind starts to blow. 

Post a Comment