That damn pick…
Before we left Airlie beach, a problem that I predicted would be an on going nuisance, was our anchor. We first dragged anchor when some muppet took our mooring in bad weather. Ever since then I have had the feeling that our anchor was not suitable. Before leaving I opted to purchase 50m of new galvanised 10mm anchor chain instead of the new pick. I figured, what’s the good of a new anchor if it’s at the bottom of the ocean attached to a broken rusty chain. With the large expense of replacing both at the same time, I chose the chain.
With 50m of new chain and our ‘manky’ plough anchor, I thought we would be able to manage most situations. “When in doubt, throw it all out” was the moto I rolled with. Drop the anchor and use 50m or more of scope basically wherever we decided to call home for the night. A good theory, that has treated us well on our journey so far. This option may not have made us the most popular people in any anchorage, due to our large swing room, but if you anchor closer than that I think you are intruding anyway. A bit of courtesy and space amongst an anchorage is a good thing. In saying that, we always try to anchor where no one else is. That is part of the enjoyment of sailing and living on a boat. Some choose to have neighbours, we try our hardest not to see humans.
Anyway, this theory has been working well until our last few stop offs. Our approach is coming unstuck due to the relatively small space inside creek anchorages. Currently the deep channel provides plenty of water under the hull at low tide, but the sand banks either side of the channel creep in very close during spring lows. The banks provide excellent protection from any swell and bad weather. Better for those vessels that don’t have the manky plough as their pick.
Yep we are protected from any swell so Nandji does not rock, but the bad weather, in particular strong wind, well that is a story in itself. When the anchorage is crowded, it makes it even more challenging as the necessity to use a shorter scope than normal becomes essential. No longer can I just throw over the glistening 50m of galvanised chain and know we are safe. We are now limited in the length of scope and have to put trust into the manky plough.
The plough type anchor used to be the ducks nuts. The theory of how it is heavily weighted and the heavier tip digs into the ground as the thing drags. It does do this, ask any farmer that has been ploughing his paddocks for the last twenty years. Ploughs are great, when they are meant to be a plough. Not so great when the plough is meant to be stopped in its tracks and hold something rather important, for example, Nandji.
This leads me to the scenario that occurred the other day. The anchorage was already rather packed when we crossed the bar on the high tide, late in the arvo. This forcing us to pick a spot between other already anchored vessels. Discussing with our new neighbour the amount of scope he had out, I dropped the plough next door and paid out a similar scope length, with a couple of extra metres for good luck. The bad weather was predicted to arrive during the night and sure enough it showed up at around midnight. The rain does not bother us so much in Nandji as she is proving to be reasonably water tight, however the wind that came with the rain, was being a menace. I woke as soon as the wind begun howling outside and not being able to rely on the bloody plough with little scope, upstairs I went to ensure Nandji didn’t go play with the neighbours. Sure enough Bonita was not far behind, knowing full well the situation that faced us.
Lucky the moon was full and the night was bright to assist us in managing Nandji’s space. By the time 6am rolled around we had repositioned Nandji twice. Not because the anchor had pulled out of the ground and we drifted, not at all. We had to reposition Nandji because the manky anchor was doing what plough’s do best. They plough. The heavy tip drags through the earth and leaves a wonderful groove that you plant crops in. If crops grew in salt water on the bottom of creek beds, then Nandji would have a lot of business digging up those creek beds.
After repositioning the third time, the sun had poked his head over the horizon. In the tender we got with a second anchor. Pulled out the same length of scope in rope this time and dragged it out at 15 degrees to the plough and dropped it over. Problem solved. No more dragging for the next 24 hours until the wind disappeared.
Long story short, think it is time for a new anchor.