The Science & Art of Anchoring!


I just read an article about anchoring.  This is one topic that you will never get two boaters to agree.  Everyone always has their favorite type of anchor and way of setting an anchor.  The end result that everyone will agree upon is that you want the boat to be in the same place where you dropped the anchor in the evening, when you wake up the next morning!

I remember the first time, I questioned Betty’s choice of anchoring locations, it was Five Fathom Creek in McClellanville, SC.  The creek was narrow, with just enough room for LILI to turn around with the tide.  The current was roaring thru there at 4-5 knots.  Betty’s answer was “The worse that can happen to us is we end up in the weeds in the morning.  TowBoatUS or SeaTow comes and tows us out.”  (Betty carries the unlimited towing package with both services.)  That did not give me much confidence and I stayed up most of the night, checking out my port windows to make sure we hadn’t ended up in the weeds.  When I did catch a bit of sleep, I had nightmares about being stuck in the weeds and all kinds of snakes getting onboard.  I DO NOT LIKE SNAKES!  Not to worry, the next morning we were in the middle of Five Fathom Creek, the same place where we dropped the anchor the night before.

Now anchoring in the Turks & Caicos and Out Islands of The Bahamas, takes a bit more care, as I have already mentioned there is NO TowBoatUS or SeaTow.

To quote from the article – “The anchoring system is made up of the anchor, anchor rode, the attachment point, the boat and (i believe, most often forgotten) the bottom.  LILI’s current anchor is a big Super Max.  Krogen owners believe when people on the dock think your anchor is too big, then it is just about right.  She has 300 feet ⅜” high tensil chain (weighs 4 lbs per foot).  There is a fancy swivel and shackles and I bought her a new snubber for Christmas a year ago – Betty just had to splice the chain grab on to the line.  LILI’s big windlass, Maxwell 2200 HWC, is hydraulic and she gets it serviced every year, cause these two women do not want to pull up that chain and anchor by hand!  The boat – LILI is a 48′ Kadey-Krogen (53′ LOA), that weighted 56,450 lbs at half load when brand new.  Now, she has got to weigh 65-70,000 lbs, as every inch of space is packed with food stuffs, spare parts, rain coats, shoes, etc.  LILI carries 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel (weighs 7.1 lbs per gallon), which was full when we left Nassau.  She carries 400 gallons of fresh water (weighs 8.3 lbs per gallon) and with the water maker running just about each day, we keep the water tanks full.  The black water holding tank has a 90 gallon capacity, but it never gets above half full.  We legally pump overboard outside the 3 mile offshore limit or pump out at a marina.  Oops, I almost forgot, you have to count the boats exposure to wind or windage – I’ll guess 250 sq ft.  Do you get the picture, LILI is a really BIG GIRL!

Now the math science part is all about scope and backing down on the anchor to set it.  Let me first share that Betty graduated from Duke University with a math major.  Jill flunked every math class in high school and only had to take one remedial math class at Palm Beach Junior College to graduate!  I have a husband that does all my math problems for me.  After 36 years of marriage, he keeps trying to teach me simple algebra, but in the end gives up and just gives me the answer!

imageScope is the distance from the anchor on the bottom (once deployed) up the rode to where it is attached to the boat (A) divided by the vertical distance from the bottom where the anchor has penetrated up to the where it is attached to the boat (B).  A divided by B equals Scope!  So if we put out 100′ of chain and we are in 10′ of water plus another 10′ to the top of LILI’s bow, our scope is 5 :1.

LILI has a 32″ four-blade propeller with the John Deere 6068 engine producing 201 horsepower at 2,600 rpms.  There are tables that will give you the load on boat due to wind and maximum thrust provided by boat propeller.  Let’s just skip to the answer.  Our anchoring experts (Robin & Jim) have told us that once we have the proper scope out and windlass locked down, that if we put LILI in reverse and rev her up to 1,000 rpms for about a minute and she doesn’t move, the anchor will hold in up to gale force winds (34 knots).  The big key is the anchor penetrating the bottom!

We are constantly referring to four different guide books about anchoring locations in the Turks & Caicos.  They all are suggesting various locations, depending on the wind direction.  We are checking our daily email from Chris Parker and also looking at Windguru online.  Somehow we just can’t get the definition of “settled weather” correct.

Anchored at Pine Cay,  we had a wonderful night on anchor.   The second day, Chris said the winds would die down as they clocked around.  Well, they didn’t where we were anchored.  During the afternoon they built to 3 to 4 footers on the nose.  Betty and I decided to head out to Grand Turk overnight to get away from the rocking.  By daylight the next morning we were off Grand Turk as two Carnival cruise ships pulled in.  Ugh…  We continued on to Salt Cay and would come back the the next day.  We anchored off  North Beach.  The guide books said to only use this anchorage in settled weather.  The wind was due to die down to 3-4 knots.  Sounded settled to us.  So we dropped the anchor.  The anchor set in the sand and we took naps.

imageThe surge coming over the reef on our nose, and the wind on our port beam continued to build all afternoon till it was just like Pine Cay.  Where is the light and variable wind?  We decided to put out a “surge bridal”, as by this time LILI was rolling from side to side and everything in the cabinets were clanging and banging.  Our friends on SYLKEN SEAS, showed us how to do this last spring.

We took a boat’s length of line and clipped it on to the chain rode at the bow.  We cleated off the other end at the port stern, then let out chain till we faced the swell.  Now this is where the math major wanted to make an isosceles triangle.  So we let out more line on the stern, then took in more of the chain and back and forth.  You get the picture!  Finally, LILI was riding a bit more comfortably, no clanging and banging.  Then, an hour later the tide changed and suddenly the line was underneath the boat pulling the chain from the starboard side.  Yuck!  We undid the bridal and gave up.  No sleep on Tuesday night and we never got off the boat to go to shore.

First thing in the morning, we pulled anchor, headed for Grand Turk and a quiet anchorage!  We tried anchoring at South Dock, near the cruise ship dock, but the locals had taken all the available space before the depth dropped off to over 150′.  We moved up to in front of the TCI House of Assembly building, where a woman from the Harbor Master’s office told us to anchor off a red roofed building.  We tried three different locations near there, but it was bare coral rock and the anchor would just not penetrate it!  There was also a man on shore waving his shirt, screaming “NO” at us.  So, we gave up and headed around the southeastern end of the island, making our way thru the coral heads to Hawks Nest Anchorage.  By this time we truly had no wind.  The guide books said that this anchorage would be surgy in no wind and can get quite rolly!  We looked around and it seemed much better than where we came from.  We finally found a patch of sand in the middle of a large area of grass.  The anchor went down and set right away.  Thank goodness.  The surge was gentle and we had found quiet anchorage.  Finally!

The art of anchoring can best be described by peaceful locations with beautiful sunsets!



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