|The Down Side of Two Anchors|
Part 2: Luck Was With Us
By Ellie Van Os • Illustration by Travis Young — February 2002
However, because we'd arrived in late afternoon, early in the tidal cycle, we'd assumed that the strongest flow was going to be in the channel along the inside of the cay. As we found out later, the tide was actually strongest as it flowed off of the shallow flats adjacent to the anchorage, west of the cay. Our Bahamian mooring backfired because the leeward anchor ended up at an angle to the flow instead of parallel to it. Moreover, our hull was primarily influenced by the substantially increased winds that shifted southeast, to align with the pass, whereas the outgoing tidal current (diametrically opposed) was acting on the ground tackle. The current carried the slack line of the leeward anchor toward the much steeper angled chain rode of the windward anchor, wrapping around it and yanking the plow loose at the same time it was dragging itself.
Luck was with us that night. If the holding ground had been any less suitable, we surely would have ended up on the rocks. Our ground tackle took a tremendous beating. A dingy trip the next day to the now deceptively tranquil scene of the night before resulted in a successful recovery of the Danforth, complete with 25 feet of severed line.
The morning after, safely moored at a new anchorage with the wind substantially subsided, we had a lot of time to reflect on the "why" of the night before. In our minds, we had done everything right. The anchorage seemed to have suitable holding ground. We'd positioned the anchors approximately 180 degrees apart to create a Bahamian-style moor inside of the sheltering island and, after donning snorkeling gear, determined that they were deeply embedded in the sand of the semigrassy bottom. We'd been sheltered from the east breeze, and the skies were clear when we turned in for the night.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.