Monday, July 30, 2012

Finally getting the hook dirty.

In "Hold Fast...", published back in March of 2012, I wrote about the process we went through to select a new anchor for Brigadoon.

The technology we purchased was pretty new and the anchor turned out to be a work of art.  It's a beautifully crafted stainless steel Ultra.  I didn't want a stainless steel anchor.  They tend to speak to me of dock queen boats, owned by less than experienced owners, who see such shiny anchors as an ornament rather than functional ground tackle.  This opinion is supported by stories of people returning ordered stainless anchors for their mega-yacht because they were scratched.  And anchor -- scratched.  Go figure.

Then again the Ultra only comes in stainless and, even though that adds to the cost, I was more interested in the design and how it performed.

We had the Ultra on Brigadoon's bow pulpit for six months before actually trying it out.  Oh, we made plans to do so.  We were going out one weekend, then the weather was only fit for selected species of arctic ducks. We'd go out another and spent the night on a dock instead.  We went out another weekend, into the sound, and were tempted by our friend's handy mooring ball.  We had yet to spend the night on a mooring ball, or to try out our cool new mooring hook, so no anchoring in Blakely harbor that night.  After hearing that I had this shiny new anchor our host insisted that, next visit, we must anchor.  I agreed.

However, the first chance to finally deploy the Ultra was on an overnight trip to Lake Washington.  It was a beautiful day, full of good breeze, warm sun, and a stated goal of not touching land for the entire weekend.  We met that goal in two ways.  We spent the first night on a mooring ball on the south end of Union Bay, just outside the Montlake Cut.  The water was very shallow there but we scooted in and, with the depth sounder screaming we only had 4 feet of depth -- it was fooled by the weeds, we were sitting on the ball in about 10' of water.

The next morning found us drifting along towards Juanita Bay, on the northeast shore of Lake Washington.  We were watching the weather forecast for wind direction.  Out plan was to ensure we were as protected as possible from wind and waves.  If the wind was out of the north, we'd anchor in Juanita Bay for the first time.  It it was out of the south, our plan would change to Cozy Cove, where we have spent the night before.

With the winds out of the south, we chose Cozy Cove.  On our way there we decided to have a nice dinner on shore.  This was our only time touching down on shore the whole weekend.  After a nice dinner at Carrilon Point, we cruised Yarrow Bay, then headed deep into Cozy Cove.

The last time we were there was for a raft-up with two other boats.  All of us sat on my single 45# CQR and 100 feet of chain.  We were also held in place by a monster stump that we ended up lifting out of the water when we tried to leave the next day.

This time, we were determined to avoid that stump again, and try out the Ultra.  There was much discussion in the cockpit, as Kerry and I decided where to drop the anchor. She had a very good memory of drifting towards shore, with a huge stump hanging from our CQR the last time.  This time would be different.  It would be more different than I expected.

As we did last time, Kerry was on the wheel in the cockpit while I readied the anchor on the bow.

Let me pause at this moment to admonish some of the male captains out there that send an often smaller, physically weaker person, forward while they yell instructions from the cockpit.  That is usually their wife or girlfriend.  I wish you would stop doing this.  It reeks of sexism, shows us now terribly much you need to be in charge, and makes being a captain look like a badge of douche-baggery, not one of responsibility.  Just stop it.  Stop it now.  If you don't trust her on the wheel, then teach her to handle the boat. An anchorage, especially if it's not crowded, is a great place to start.  You likely have almost twice her strength. She's got to be smart enough to learn to stop at one spot in into the wind and back the boat gently under power.  Now, where was I?

So there I was at the bow and Kerry on the stern.  The last time we did this the CQR, good anchor though it may be, ended up skipping along the bottom as Brigadoon backed like a drunken sailor, until the anchor hooked the stump.  Now, I will admit, that may be due to our inexperience that the CQR skipped along but, I've heard they are prone to that in some conditions.

We reached the agreed upon spot with Kerry at the helm.  She stopped us in place and gave me time to drop the Ultra.  The wind gently pushed us back while Kerry did her best, which turned out to be excellent, to back us downwind as I paid out chain.  In 20 feet of water, i wanted a 5:1 scope so, when I saw the 100 foot tag on the chain pass the bow roller and touch the water, I snubbed the chain.

Brigadoon had drifted slightly sideways at this point. She does that due to her cutaway forefoot on the keel.  I watched the chain as Kerry stood ready on the engine.  Soon, the chain started pulling up and, in one very definitive action, she swing directly towards the trip bouy we had set.  I mean, she settled, hard.

I went to the stern to see just how hard she had set.  Placing the engine in reverse I gave her a good burst.  We were very well placed. The chain pulled up and we didn't move one bit.  I felt confident we were well set and could settle in for the night, a wonderful night.  Brigadoon shook off the numerous wakes from the ski and wake boats that play in Cozy Cove most of the afternoon.

Our night was peaceful and secure.  When I'd wake at night I'd take a peek about and note we had not moved aside from some gentle swinging about on the light winds.  There is something special, almost magical, about sitting there, not attached to land, enjoying a nice dinner of hot pasta and fresh bread.

The next morning, after about 20 minutes pulling on our reliable manual windless, and cleaning a few bushels of lake weed off the chain, we pulled the Ultra free.

How to plow a lake bed.

There ya go.  She's finally dirty.

I think we made a good choice here.  The way this anchor set was much quicker than I have ever experienced with any other anchor.  It felt secure all night.  It was easy to retrieve.  It wasn't cheap but I think that, like most of our buying decisions, buying high quality is worth it.

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