penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

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Ghillie
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penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Ghillie » Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:07 pm

Not us, luckily, but seemingly Loch Spelve is a good place to drag anchor.

We anchored there the previous night (Sunday) with muggins spending an anxious night checking the chartplotter after each big gust. Our now completely useless CQR, knowing it is under threat from replacement by an upstart NG anchor (yes, the anchor posts have got to me), did perform however (it was well set), but 6 to 8/9 was forecast for Monday night, so we scuttled back to Dallens Bay Monday morning with a rising rain-bearing wind behind us.

For the first time ever, we had to sail by a compass bearing during daylight in this neck of the woods as we saw nothing but mist/rain until well up the right hand side of Lismore.

There was a grounding off Camas a Nathais, which we would have seen in normal visibility, (and perhaps done a Shard) but happily all turned out well in the end.

The next task is to hope for a good weekend,s winds to retreat to the Clyde...

I wonder what the dragging anchor was......

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puddock
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby puddock » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:52 am

Please feel free to put me in my place, as a relative newcomer but...(serious questions here, not p155 taking)

"the lifeboat found the yacht, having dragged her anchor, hard against the floats of a mussel farm in the North West corner of the loch. With wind blowing force 7-8 on the Beaufort scale and gusting to 9, the lifeboat held the casualty clear of the mussel floats while she tried to retrieve her anchor."

a) How far off (the mussel floats) were they anchored and did they have no anchor watch given the prevailing or forecast, indeed worsening conditions? What was the forecast and is there a 'cauldron effect' in Loch Spelve?). Before you start about my own recent debacle, I at least became aware of the change in conditions before we REALLY ended up in the ....and

b)presuming the prevailing wind was pinning said craft to the side of the mussel floats, were there no options available to the crew of FOUR (though, this could well have consisted of 2 young children and an inexperienced wife, in which case I withdraw any allegations of anything I haven't said ...) such as powering off/ springing off. It would seem wholly innappropriate to have called a lifeboat out if the main concern was damage to gelcoat that may have resulted from 'driving off' etc. Was using the dragging anchor (assuming it to be still, well upwind) as a "semi anchor" not an option for using power to get out of the situation? Was it fouled? In which case, could that have been used to advantage?

c) I appreciate (now!) how fast a craft can move once an anchor drags/ breaks and I am not aware of the original anchored position of the vessel prior to dragging. Does Loch Spelve pose a "problem" , other than those stated in the Pilot book, when anchoring? (Serious question, as shorter sailing days are drawing in and it may be a source of shelter/ refuge and I have never visited the location).

Main thing is, nobody was hurt, obviously. But (for me at any rate) there is more info to be gleaned about the incident. Was he flying a Blue Ensign? (F&%k, wrong forum...)

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Nick
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Nick » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:55 am

.
This is one of these 'easy to criticise but we don't know the full story' episodes. There may have been a danger of entanglement if they started the engine, or maybe calling for help was an over-reaction brought on by the novel experience of being in ones underwear on the foredeck in a full gale, zero vis and stair rods - possibly with as you say very frightened wife and kiddies, jammed windlass and the spare torch batteries mysteriously missing.

So - forum court should probably be suspended until or if we have more info.

Re. Loch Spelve and the 'cauldron' effect - we have been in there when it was F2-4 outside but blowing a solid F6-7 inside, and had a cracking roar around in smooth water, so I would say yes, there may be local wind acceleration effects under certain conditions - a lot of high ground around, so gusts can definitely be expected in strong winds.

Regarding anchor watches - if the vis is very poor it can be hard to tell you are dragging until something looms up out of the murk. Not everyone uses a chartplotter or GPS to set an anchor alarm for various reasons and in weather like that I doubt if everyone was asleep anyway. Even if some poor soul had been sitting in the cockpit with a torch they might not have seen the mussel floats more than a few seconds before fetching up against them.

If a big blow is expected then my preferred anchorage would be a relatively open one with the wind offshore and a lot of deep water behind me. That way you know if you drag you will blow out into deep water and have plenty of time to get your act together. In confined anchorages I am dubious about the ability to set valid parameters for an anchor alarm - depth or GPS based - which will both give you enough warning and not disturb you with false alarms.
- Nick 8)

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Ghillie
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Ghillie » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:15 pm

The boat was anchored tucked into the west corner of the north arm of the loch and would have dragged a couple of hundred metres or so before being fortuitously arrested by the mussel lines. It must have been a pretty horrible realisation on board and I hope that the crew were not too distressed by the whole episode.

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Mark
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Mark » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:47 pm

Nick wrote:.maybe calling for help was an over-reaction brought on by the novel experience of being in ones underwear on the foredeck in a full gale, zero vis and stair rods


Totally agree. Last Friday night/Sat morning at 5am I woke up in the pitch black, woozy with hangover, gagging for a p1ss and aware of a definate 'drifting' sensation. Conditions were flat sea and gentle, warm wind.

I stumbled out, fiddled with the anchor line, mindlessly decided I'd have a slash over the side and then had a second fiddle with the anchor cable. I pulled it all in to find a frayed end. Still literally half asleep.

It must have taken me 3 minutes to work out something obvious.

I must admit the sight of the frayed end jerked me into reality and from then on I was functioning normally but my point is if I wasn't 100pc in perfect condtions with dawn on its way and minutes to assess the situation christ knows what it was like to wake up in a gale with no time to think.

Also I've been stuck against a pontoon in Tobermory by an onshore gale and in a million years you couldn't spring it off. I suspect taking the anchor 50m to windward would have worked but how to you take an anchor into the teeth of a gale with a 2bhp engine and a rubber dinghy? As it happens that time the lifeboat came past us on the way back form a shout and agreed to tug us off by a rear cleat.

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Nick
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Nick » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:09 pm

I've been stuck against a pontoon in Tobermory by an onshore gale and in a million years you couldn't spring it off.

No, but if you put loads of fenders out and use them as rollers (not generally good practice) you would almost certainly be able to drive her off.

Do you use an all-rope rode Markie? (Just your comment about a frayed end).
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Mark
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Mark » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:42 pm

Nick wrote:
I've been stuck against a pontoon in Tobermory by an onshore gale and in a million years you couldn't spring it off.

No, but if you put loads of fenders out and use them as rollers (not generally good practice) you would almost certainly be able to drive her off.


Obviously, but getting out wasn't our primary problem - once out of the pontoon I wasn't at all sure we'd have got the stern through the wind in the space we had - I felt there was a significant risk we'd be blown straight down onto the shore. (With our 40bhp engine at full whack we were only just making steerage way pushing against the wind, we picked up a bouy literally at full throttle almost stationary!)

In hindsight we should have been on the W side facing out. E side facing in was a mistake!

Nick wrote:[Do you use an all-rope rode Markie? (Just your comment about a frayed end).


On this occasion the entire cable was a spinnaker sheet. :-)

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Shuggy
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Shuggy » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:58 pm

More worrying from the same report page was this:

August 27th
Vessels in Difficulties
While re-fuelling after the previous service the lifeboat was tasked to attend a yacht hard aground in the anchorage at Puilladobhrainn with two adults and a youngster aboard and,while under way to that incident, received a message from H.M. Coastguard that yet another yacht was in difficulties in the same anchorage. The wind throughout was South-westerly Force 7-8. This latter yacht indicated that she wished to leave the anchorage and the lifeboat led her out to the open sea before returning to send a dinghy in to pick up the three people from the original casualty whose re-floating had never been an option. The three crew were taken back to Oban in the lifeboat and where Coxswain MacKillop arranged for them to be put up in the Royal Hotel. The Manager of the Royal Hotel was extremely helpful in arranging accommodation for them on one of Oban's busiest nights of the year - Argyllshire Gathering Day. After some fours from launching the lifeboat was refuelled and ready for service again at 00.45 hours


How does one go aground at Puilladobhrainn? Any inside info? And why would you leave there in a force 7-8? The mind boggles... or perhaps the report is misleading?
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Nick
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Nick » Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:04 am

How does one go aground at Puilladobhrainn? Any inside info? And why would you leave there in a force 7-8?

Problems is when it is very crowded you can't put enough scope out. And - if lots of boats are dragging, which has happened, I would maybe prefer to make my way up to Oban and go alongsider a pontoon at Kerrera or take a mooring at Cardingmill. It's not a big deal to blast up the Sound of Kerrera under genoa in a SW F7-8, getting out of the anchorage would probably be the hard part.
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Shuggy
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Shuggy » Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:21 am

OK - fair point. But I've never seen it so crowded that you can't anchor on the right hand side (which always seems to be empty), and the mud is so thick that dragging seems an impossibility.
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Aja » Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:57 am

Shuggy wrote:.... and the mud is so thick that dragging seems an impossibility.


It seems that the anchorage has this 'hurricane hole' myth about it. It is and was to our family a temporary fair weather stop-over for going south when waiting for the tide. The number of boats that use Puilladobhrain in a season mean the mud is fairly poughed up. We've often seen boats dragging there.

Another place that has the same mythology about it is Caladh - the down-draughts in a Northerly can be truely horrendous.

CCC Sailing Directions say 'good holding in 4-6m with 20m chain. In a Sw'ly 7-8 I would need a whole lot more chain out to be comfortable. In fact I would prefer to be somewhere else.

All in my opinion....

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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Telo » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:41 pm

Puilladobhrain and other mud anchorages usually give great holding, but nothing is guaranteed for the reasons outlined by Donald.

The other point is that even after three days of F6/7 gusting to about 40 knots, our anchor "popped out" in Dunvegan after the wind had eventually dropped to the low twenties. I say "popped out" as the thick mud (similar to Puilladobhrain) encased both sides of the "plough". It looked like the anchor had held well, but had pulled up a great chunk of seabed.

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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Shuggy » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:51 pm

Ah. That's another thing I will be less complacent about, then. I remember Silkie's scary PD video earlier this year, but it was a north wind iirc. I tend to run at about 1000rpm astern for a minute to check transits and if all is well and the wind/tide does not create a 180 deg shift I sleep well. Now I will be wondering if the seabed is attached to the earth's crust!
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Nick
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby Nick » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:46 pm

Now I will be wondering if the seabed is attached to the earth's crust!

I once retrieved the Spade with a huge scoop of mud with a smooth convex suface on it, but I assumed this had only happened with the final vertical pull to free the anchor from the seabed. With a horizontal or near horizontal pull this type of event should be impossible I would have thought.

Or hoped . . .
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Re: penultimate sail of the season....dragging anchor....

Postby DaveS » Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:55 pm

Markie wrote:
Nick wrote:.I pulled it all in to find a frayed end.


This is ultimately what puts me off the chain / rope combination rode that should, theoretically, be superior to all chain (see anchor posts passim ad naseum).
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