|The Down Side of Two Anchors|
An experienced boater discovers the hard way that two anchors aren’t always better than one.
By Ellie Van Os • Illustration by Travis Young — February 2002
"The rocks are 15 feet off the stern!" shouted my husband Jim. The cabin that moments before had felt cozy against the howling wind now felt very exposed. Anchored just inside of Little Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands on a moonless night in 35-knot winds, our boat was dragging not one but two anchors. We knew exactly where we were, but how did we get into the position we were in? There was no time for the "why" just yet. First we had to figure out the "how."
Fortunately our 400-hp diesels started flawlessly. After a quick check of our Bahamian moor, we determined that we were dragging our windward anchor, 100 feet of chain with a 45-pound plow. Moreover, it was apparent that our carefully placed leeward anchor was causing a big problem instead of preventing one. Made up of nylon line with 10 feet of chain rode on a 40-pound Danforth, it had gone virtually slack and was wrapped around the chain of the plow. The first order of business was to unwrap the thing since the fouling was causing both anchors to drag with each rise of the wildly horsing bow. We did this by quickly removing the slack Danforth rode from its bow cleat and using the windlass, retrieving short lengths of the plow rode. This enabled us to unwrap the Danforth line foot by foot. That done, we retrieved the plow, which would not reset, then slowly worked at recovering the Danforth. Unfortunately, though it had dragged earlier, it was now firmly entrenched. In a perfect world we would have been able to pay out additional line, drop back, and leave it at that. But a safe scope was no longer possible--we were too close to the rocks. After seemingly endless jockeying in an attempt to reposition the boat and free the Danforth, we eventually had to abandon it. In a heart-stopping maneuver, we managed to cut it loose at precisely the right moment to avoid fouling the propellers. We motored away on that black and rocky night thanking Neptune for giving us the foresight to outfit the boat with radar the previous Christmas.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.