Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hello, Towboat U.S.

'Tis better to drop anchor than to drag anchor

There's always the first time for everything, including dragging anchor. It finally happened to us a few nights ago (after 11 years of sailing on 33' plus sailboats) during another mega-wind night at Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. MicMac had always stayed put at anchor with lots of chain out. But this anchorage was so blasted crowded that Captain Pete had to pull in some anchor rode to avoid swinginging into nearby boats. That left us susceptible to the howling 30 knots plus winds that arrived with another cold front.

At 10 p.m. (at the end of a Marathon marathon Scrabble game), we started to heel over even more than in the gusts. OOPS. As we scrambled up the steps to the cockpit, we saw mangroves VERY close. We had drifted about 100 yards, all the way to the shallow edge of the anchorage and were aground at low tide, broadside to the wind, and held there by continuing gusts. We knew we were in for another night of trying to sleep at a very uncomfortable angle. "Not much we can do until morning," said a calm captain. First mate was less calm and wanted to call Towboat U.S. immediately.

In the dark, we could see another boat that was hard aground. But that's hardly reassuring. The morning photo shows how our jib is parallel to the other grounded boat's mast. Parallel lines are only cool in math class, not in an anchorage. Note too the other boat headed correctly into the wind.

Hauling us off the bottom at high tide was an easy task for the towboat another 14 hours later, in spite of the 25 knot winds still blowing. The add-on of $125 per year for towing insurance paid for itself again. Towing services are NOT cheap, but at no cost if you're covered. Kinda like AAA towing. Our engine konked out years ago in the middle of the Chesapeake and we had to be hauled back to the York River.

Embarassment aside, no real harm done. We also learned to check our boat's position frequently during a storm in spite of who is winning at Scrabble; to never anchor out in a crowded anchorage where you can easily converse with nearby boats, and to swallow our pride when MicMac under tow is the local entertainment.

1 comment:

  1. Some GPS units have an "anchorage warning" that goes off if the coordinates change beyond some limit while the feature is activated. Might be nice to have!