Saturday, February 27, 2010

Anchoring & snubber lines

We like to anchor out. It is usually quiet and peaceful, not to mention there are no slip fees.  I thought I would take a moment for our non boater friends and explain some of the practical issues.
 A beautiful sunset on Little Shark River explains in more than words why anchoring is so appealing.

When we drop our anchor we usually put out a large amount of scope (length of the line) and in our case, we only use chain. The general rule of thumb is 5 to 7 times the depth of water. In 10 ft then it would be typically 50 to 70 ft of scope/chain. We like to put out 110 to 120 ft of scope/chain. This helps in several ways, first it adds weight that helps hold the anchor and, if for some reason the anchor comes loose, it will help the flutes (curved sides of the anchor) dig back in. For example when we anchored in Bull Creek, Ga., there was a 5 ft tidal range, a 2-3 kt current and 25 knot winds and we held great. We think of it as extra protection.
When we drop the anchor our habit is to gently back up until the chain  becomes taut, thereby allowing the anchor to dig in.

Once the anchor is set we set an anchor watch. Here is a screen shot of what it looks like.  We set a radius around the boat (the faint dotted larger circle you see) at a certain distance using our chart plotter; if the boat goes outside of this circle an alarm sounds letting us know the anchor has come loose and we are dragging. In this case you can see how the boat swung on a radius around the anchor, changing with the wind and tides. This was our anchorage at Little Shark River, Fla.  The boat swung well inside the radius and so an alarm never sounded.

We also use a snubber line which you can see here. The anchor is attached to a chain and then to the windlass and has no elasticity in it.  As the boat moves around in the wind and tide, it can form stresses on the whole anchor system. A snubber is a line attached to the chain and boat which takes the stress and shock of the movement off the windlass and makes it both more efficient, quieter and reduces jerky movements. The line acts as a shock absorber. You can see in these two pictures the snubber line and slack chain coming off the boat. Later that day as the wind calmed down the snubber line was less taut as the pull declined.

There are many other factors to consider such as the composition of the bottom and how well a certain type of anchor will hold. The many types of anchors for different conditions as well as the physical circumstances of wind, wave and current are also considerations.
 On the more glamorous side of things, here is Jeannie spraying the chain and anchor after we hauled it up and got underway.
You can see that the bottom of Little Shark River was muddy and smelly. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

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