The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

As I write this at the chart table of Ocean Blue I must admit to feeling down. Last night was supposed to be the perfect first test at anchor and what a disaster it turned out to be. The voyage to Waterhaven was pleasant enough. A fairly strong 20kt SE’ly had me decide for a reef in the main and some rolls in the genny. Once through the Narrows, me and Blue had a great beat up the channel past Fish Eagle and around into the last stretch before Waterhaven. Everything was going well, sails doused easily, anchor prepared until we dropped the hook in Waterhaven Bay. Then the nightmare started. Three times I tried and I could just not get the anchor set. On the third try it seemed to set, but in 7m of water, way deeper than I would normally choose.

The curry was good, red and company were good, but I was distracted the entire evening. We were gradually dragging what I shall now refer to exclusively as the “Pathetic Plough”. Some lucky farmer is going to be able to seed the field dude.

Sensing my unease, Smee, who had also to try twice before getting Strider’s anchor to set, suggested we head back to the known safety of Fish Eagle. No asking me twice and I followed Strider out with some evil clouds to the east still delivering 20kts or so.

Fish Eagle – relief! We’ve always had good, secure nights here. Except – I nearly run us aground. The bottom, at these water levels [75% at time of writing], shelves rapidly, 4.0m – 3.2m – 2.0 m, before I manage to turn the ship [and believe me in these panic situations she is a ship of slow and ponderous proportions]. Slow, slow moments of eternity as I try and turn us back the way we came. The turn is finally made with the depth alarm screaming on 2.0m [we touch at 1.7m].

Finally, I choose a spot and anchor down, motor in reverse and off we go toward the channel. Try again. Same thing. By now I have no strength left and can hardly haul in the slick, mud-covered last meters of chain and anchor. I’m filthy, streaked in mud and disgustedly I shout over to Strider that I’m going home. Turning tail I motor back to the mooring and, arriving by 9pm, still have to have a bucket-bath on the foredeck to get clean enough for my bunk.

I didn’t have as much fun as I’d hoped this weekend !!

What went wrong ??? I’ve never dragged that 18kg CQR anchor with 30m 6mm chain on Sole. Now, on Blue with the same anchor [and I know the suggestion of “bigger anchor” will come, and yes, the anchor is big enough. Any bigger and it will be unmanageable] and 30m of 8mm chain, I thought I would have no problem. Blue just seems to be too heavy for the combination CQR and the Vaal bottom. I should perhaps have tried the Danforth before giving up last night, but hauling up 30m of 8mm chain and anchor that many times had taken it out of me.

I like the CQR more than a Danforth. It sits better on the bow roller, is easier to handle and has a good reputation for holding in a wide range of conditions. But, if it doesn’t hold us in the generally muddy bottoms found on the Vaal it’s useless. Next time, when I’m fresh and strong, I’ll couple the Danforth to the 8mm and try again.

But it wasn’t all bad. The sailing on Saturday evening was wonderful, and breakfast was possibly the best part of the weekend …..

Just goes to show. One has to just roll with the punches life throws and enjoy the good times when they happen. You win some you loose some. Success is maybe winning more than you loose and failure is only in giving up!

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About clewless

s/v Ocean Blue Another step closer to being far, far away........
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