Blog from Diane… I love camping and boondocking and I love being on the “hook” or anchor for an undetermined amount of time! There is so much freedom and serenity away from all the noise and bustle of daily life. I love having new sights, smells, and sounds from different locations. I am at present aboard our sailboat in South Texas and really enjoying our boating friends and family.
Anyone who has a boat should have an anchor (1). (If you cannot open the links they are at the bottom of this blog. (1- 10))
My story: We had just finished a beautiful sail with our buddy boat and decided before we left the dock, that we would drop anchor and stay the night out in the water. We checked all the apps to see what the wind progression, such as speed, direction, and gusts would be for the night. In knowing how the projections were, we knew which direction to drop anchor to prevent dragging. This was not our first rodeo; we have been boaters for almost 30 years. It was going to be a beautiful night with a good breeze which was needed to help us cool down since the overnight temperature was 80 degrees! We finally found the exact location we wanted to drop anchor and our buddy boat would wait until we were set before they dropped their anchor, they have traveled with us before and know we have a very temperamental windlass (2) Here is a link to some windlass by Lewmar (3) Our windlass decided its motor was finished, not going to even give 1 chain link of pull! I decided I could pull the chain out and drop the anchor, after 20 minutes of pulling and huffing and puffing, I told the captain to line it up so I could drop it. And just like that, we had the anchor set and locked! Now we had to get the dinghy (4) or inflatable off our davits. We got it down and proceeded to put our electric Torqeedo motor (5) on, then climbed on the inflatable to navigate to our buddy boat, in anticipation of sundowners. By the time It is dark, the wind has made 2.5 ft. seas that are confused and choppy. On our way back to our vessel, I held a very bright flashlight (6), that when shining toward the water brought up huge bait balls of fish, those fish proceeded to jump at me. Needless to say, I was “fish slapped” by 3 of the putrid-smelling critters! We arrived back at our accommodations on the water and proceeded to settle down for the night. I could not fall asleep, so ended up on the couch until 2 am. At 3:30, I climbed into bed with my spouse, who was checking out our digital anchor alarm. While he watched, we literally ran off the screen and the alarms started going off, loud and clearly urgent! My husband ran to the top side in his underwear and proceeded to turn on the engine to hold us in place and not drag anymore. I put on a jacket, and my marriage savers (7), and headed up to the anchor to try and bring it up, but as before, no windlass, I could hear the solenoid clicking but no motor turning! As we sat waiting for the anchor to reset itself, apparently it had done so 2 times before the alarms went off, we came up with a plan of action. Stay awake until the first light, make coffee, eat breakfast, manually pull the anchor, and motor back to our marina, because of a headwind. After years of boating, power, and now sailboat, we have never drug anchor, not only drug the anchor but did so almost 500 feet! Like any good sailor, we analyzed what happened. We went over what was and what could have been, what did we do wrong and what did we do right. Four days later we had an obligation that required us to anchor out overnight again and boy, was I dreading it. My spouse says it is like riding a bike, we have to do it again, but anchoring properly (8) and NOT dragging. So off we went again and anchored, but this time we let out the chain and 100 feet of the line (9). We did not drag! The next day, we danced happily around our deck and felt like we had conquered a mountain this time. We definitely are going to be on anchor many many times in the future. Lesson learned: From the lyrics of the song by Tommy James, “I feel fine, I’m talkin bout peace of mind, I’m gonna take my time, I’m getting the good sign….draggin the line”. (10)
- See the following article from Practical Sailor magazine for their takes on Windlass; https://www.practical-sailor.com/sails-rigging-deckgear/windlass-test
- Check out our electric motor at: https://www.torqeedo.com/us/en-us/products/outboards/travel/travel-1103-c/M-1151-00.html