Now, that was a brilliant idea…

As I’m arriving in Barbate I decide to do something I never had done before, since everything has to be tested, right? As I was sailing into the anchorage in front of its beautiful beach I realize that the wind was perfect for anchoring without running the engine. I mean, time to add another thing to the list of done-thats and tick it off the bucket list. The wind was along the beach, which meant that I could easily decide when to stop the boat by just turning the bow into the wind and thus depowering the sail.

There was just two other boats in the anchorage, one to my starboard and one far to port, tucked in behind the breakwater near the wall to the harbor. So I had plenty room, the only thing I had to avoid was the people paddling about in their beach toys, but they were more towards the harbor and the shore, so I should not have to worry much about them, but it is always good to have an eye on them, you never know what they decide to do in a moments notice.

Another thing that I kept my eye on was the depth meter. I have about eight meters under the keel at the moment, so I keep sailing straight for the beach. Seven, six, five. I get closer and closer, and it is getting more and more shallow. I take a look at the tide and it was about two meters here, so I want at least three meters, but preferably four, under the keel as I drop the anchor. At the same time I consider what would happen if the wind will turning to south, pushing the boat onto the shore while at low tide as well. So there are many parameters just deciding where to drop anchor. Four. I decide that it was good enough. Since there is about two and a half meter to the bow roller from the bottom of the keel it meant that I would have to drop about thirty meters of chain in total, fine. A wind shift would not be an issue as the shore is reasonably far away.

So I turn into wind, effectively dropping the speed to just about two knots, and it was slowing in as I moved to the bow to drop anchor. It went really well without any issues, I dropped ten meters first to let the anchor drag a bit, or at least that was my idea, but it pretty much set as it touched the sandy bottom below. I let out another sixteen or seventeen meters, as the boat backed up in the wind. Remember that I still had the main sail up and it worked nicely to hold me straight into the wind and backing up on the anchor. As the chain stretched out I attached the snubber line and let the last three meters out. I was anchored! I didn’t run the engine the whole day, and I felt really pleased with it. I will have to get back on the topic though…

So, I dropped the main sail and finished things up, preparing to make some food, tuck in and sleep. But wow how wrong I was. The food was all done and eaten, but as I was preparing the food I realized that even if I was somewhat behind the breakwater the boat rolled significantly, mainly because the waves rounded the breakwater and thus changed angle, I had the wind from the west, but the waves was heading to the northeast.

So, time to check off another thing from the bucket list? Of course. It was time to set my first stern anchor to get the boat to point into the waves instead of into the wind. I mean, how hard can it really be, right? Haha! Yeah… Ahem…

So, I have two extra anchors, one connected to about twenty meters of chain and then probably another forty to fifty meters of rode enough to be used for a stern anchor. The anchor weighs twenty kilo so it was a bit hard to handle, with all the chain. But, hey, everything is a challenge, right? I realized that I probably had to let out as much chain as I could on my main anchor to get the stern anchor as far from the boat as possible. So I let out all sixty meters and let the boat back down in the wind. It was actually a rather strong wind, I realized.

So how would I go about getting the new anchor in the water? Well, it should possibly the easiest part of it all, I mean, all that has to be done is to get it over the railing and then gravity would fix the rest, right? So, let’s start there. I managed to put all the chain in a nice pile in the cockpit and lifted the anchor over the railing, slowly dropping it into the water. One issue was to keep it and the chain from rubbing against the boat, since it could mean unwanted repairs later. After letting out a few meters of chain I realize I haven’t thought abut how to get it up, and I can feel that is now a substantial weight in my hands, probably more than thirty kilos. Lifting it straight up without hitting the boat at this point would probably pose a challenge. Hmm..

Well, let’s not worry about that now, the focus is to get it down to the bottom and get it to set. So I let it down further, and I felt that the weight on my arms was getting a bit easier, so I presumed that the anchor was down on the floor of the sea. And, yeah, it was. It was starting to pull the chain out of my hands, as the boat started to swing a bit.

That’s when it hit me.

I was so eager to get the anchor in the water I didn’t think about where I was dropping it. And yes, of course. I had dropped it exactly the oposite as I wanted it, so the waves would hit Away sideways no matter what. Alright. Smart, Magnus. Lesson learned. But now it was a bit late, because the boat was moving to starboard and I had no say in it, I just had to let out more chain or things would start to break. Possibly my fingers against the pushpit. Oh, yeah, I did mention that. I dropped the anchor in over the pushpit, and thus all the chain went the same way. Not below it, where it should be. So… thinking on my toes. I held the weight of the chain in one hand, while trying to get as much chain over the pushpit so that I could cleat it on the outside, while the boat was demanding me to let out more. That was a struggle, but eventually it was in place. Unfortunately the anchor was now on port side, and the chain was crossing the stern of the boat, making some zink lines on the gelcoat. Time to think quickly again!

Since I was free to move now I took the rode at the end that was attached to the chain and cleated it on port side instead and then I managed to get the chain off the starboard cleat. I had about four meter of chain left, and I dropped it in the water to make sure I only had rode to handle. I scurried to the bow and started to pull in the main anchor. It all went well, even if the wind was pushing the boat some, stretching the chain while it was being pulled in. But as usual it is just a matter of going slow, waiting for the chain to sink and eventually the chain would be in. Except now the chain was a straight line and the windlass clutch didn’t want to pull in any more chain and it wasn’t sinking. What the h… Yes, the wind was strong, but not that strong! So I turned around, and saw a rode from the aft port cleat showing a neat straight white line down into the water. I guess the anchor was quite well set after all. So I went back and let out some more rode before pulling in some more chain on the main anchor.

So there I was, between two well set anchors, rolling back and forth like there was no tomorrow. Well, I guess it means that I’m not going anywhere tonight anyway. So I gave up for the night. I will have to figure this out in the morning. I mean, I have a stern anchor at least. So I went down into the boat, prepping for the night. But after some time I got really frustrated by the rolling, I realized that I wouldn’t get much sleep if I stayed like this. It wasn’t even near the situation in Nazareth, but it was enough to make me frustrated and unable to sleep. There are two ways to handle swell coming in from the side: 1] turn the boat into the swell (failed with that) or 2] get out of the situation.

So since my experimental approach to option 1 had failed, I had to do option 2 instead. I’m popping my head out through the hatch opening and look at the two boats that was with me in the anchorage, and even if it was getting dark now it is easy to see their anchor lights. The one that was even more exposed than me shows pretty much the same rolling as I have, but the small boat tucked in at the harbor wall was just swaying back and forth a bit. We had a winner.

So, time to pull up the anchors (yes, plural) and move. Yeah, the no-motor-day was about to be spoiled. But honestly, sleeping is more important to me. I had to come up with a plan though to get the stern anchor up on the boat again. I did a post about it on my private FB wall and just cutting it and call it a day was suggested, and yeah, it was tempting. I was not a friend of the stern anchor at this moment. But, even if it is a simple Danforth-type anchor it still is valuable to have on board. So first plan was to get it up. My main issue at this point is that it is late, it is pitch black and all the light I have is from the street lights some hundred meters to starboard.

The plan

  1. Get the rode to the empty bow roller
  2. Pull up the main anchor while letting out the rode to the stern anchor, getting to a point where I only have one anchor to work with.
  3. As the boat moves down the rode, pull it in as fast as I can.
  4. When the boat has passed the stern anchor, start pulling it in.
  5. Get the main anchor down to secure the boat when the stern anchor is about to let go.
  6. Pull the stern anchor up.
  7. Success!

The execution

  1. To get the rode to the bow roller was actually rather simple, it is a long rope.
  2. I started pulling up the main anchor while letting out rode, moving the boat forward, but eventually I got to a point where I realized that I had about ten meter of chain to pull up and I was holding on to the bitter end of the rode. I didn’t have enough rode to pull up the main anchor… I cleated the rode and did some quick thinking. I had the snubber line at my disposal and it would probably suffice, so a quick knot later I could continue until the chain was pointing straight down. The main anchor got out of the water, and I let it hang just below the bowroller. Tight call.
  3. The boat had started to turn, to starboard. The rode was now under the boat and I was just praying that it wouldn’t get stuck on the propeller or something. I had the engine running to be able to do some maneuvering and even if it is in neutral, the prop some times can be slowly rotating with some gearboxes and I don’t know how mine acts. So, what to do? I started pulling the rode as fast as I could on starboard side instead, and got a rather good amount up before it was stretching over the bow roller in front of me.
  4. Time to put my back into it. Uhm.. No, not really. I have managed to get the rode in under the chain of the main anchor and it was giving me a hard time. I quickly grabbed the rode in front of the chain and started pulling. Oh, so much easier! But it was hard work still, I was puling a ten ton boat in strong winds in the middle of the night.
  5. I tried to drop the main anchor as an insurance, but I realized rather soon that it was a bad idea, since I would have to handle both anchors at the same time. So I had it hanging under the boat just in case, but not as deep as it was touching the bottom.
  6. The chain was finally showing, but as the distance between the anchor and the boat shrunk, the more the boat started to veer back and forth in the wind. It was hard to keep the chain I had pulled up on the boat, the anchor started to pull it back out. So I used the cleat to give me a little rest, I just gave it a turn and held some tension, it worked in the beginning, but after I had pulled more chain up I had to add another turn around the cleat to stop it pulling out chain. I pulled two meters, put the chain on the cleat and while doing that it pulled a meter back. I had this tug of war with the anchor but, as you know, I’m kind of stubborn and eventually I could feel the anchor starting to slip on the seabed. I looked around, it was far from the boat behind me, no problems. So I continued to pull the anchor up. Eventually I heard the anchor hitting the bowroller. Yes! And now what? I got a twenty kilos anchor hanging on my bow, swinging and risking to damage the boat. Well, I had to get out on the very tip of the bow, getting straight above the anchor and lift it a meter and a half, straight up to get it over the pulpit. It wasn’t easy, but eventually I had the anchor up on the boat.
  7. Success, kind of.

At this point I once more looked at the boat behind me. What was earlier about hundred meters was now not more than maybe thirty, and it was closing fast! I was drifting straight at them. So I rush to the cockpit and thank my foresight of having the engine running, slamming the gear into forward and discreetly gets away from a near miss, with ten meters or so to spare.

So, another exciting night on board of Away, haha! All I wanted was to sleep now, so I moved closer to the small boat at the harbor wall, not going too close since it would be rude to anchor on top of them. Dropped anchor once more, set everything up and went to bed.

The next destination is Gibraltar, and I’m excited about that but at the moment I fell asleep instantly. I will tell the story about Gibraltar in the next post.

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