Anchor Breaks Loose in Near Gale
05 October 2009
When I left anchor, no winds stronger than Force 6 (strong breeze) were in the forecast for the planned week-long sail. That changed when I got farther offshore, and the next day the forecast was steadily upgraded to Force 7 (near gale) and Force 8 (gale). Fortunately the wind was from behind, so running with the gale (instead of stopping for it) would be helpful.
A couple of hours into the near gale (F7), I heard the new anchor banging around and went forward to look at it. A tab that had been welded to the anchor to make it work with the anchor mounting system on the boat had broken off. Now the anchor was only held to it's mount by gravity, so when the boat hit the waves, the water pushed the anchor up and out of its mount. A heavy, sharp steel anchor is a really bad thing to have loose at sea!
I carefully lashed the anchor onto its mount with several ropes, taking care not to get pinched by the moving anchor. That was enough to get through the near gale, but only by re-lashing it later with more ropes and chain, as shown in the picture. A problem with the Raya anchor, which I had not understood before, is that the shank (the handle, not the part that grabs the seabed) is cut from a plate of steel, and the sharp edges from that cut were not rounded. When fitting the anchor, I noticed the sharp edges, but didn't think of them in terms of how to lash such an object at sea, because the sharp edges keep cutting through any ropes used to lash them. On my todo list now is grinding down all the sharp edges of the anchor.
As night fell, the sky suddenly cleared and the wind dropped. This happened really quickly, so I figured we were in some kind of eye of a localized part of the near gale. A few minutes later, a light wind picked up from the opposite direction, and rain clouds appeared. As it was getting hard to predict what the wind would do next, I lowered the one sail I had up and lashed the steering. Heavy rain followed, with much lightning and thunder, as I waited it out below. The boat is a pretty safe place to be in lightning, but only if one avoids touching metal, so it is much better to be belowdecks when in lightning.
The waves dropped quickly, which was nice, probably due to the relatively shallow water we were in. An hour later I was able to set more sails and get back on course in lighter winds.
I'm late in posting this because its been an unusually busy trip, of which I will write more about later.