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Anchor Mayhem

Dark weather at Fiskardo bay

Fiskardo Mayhem There were several options for docking, or anchoring (med style with a line ashore). We chose to anchor with a line ashore. We figured we could swim off the boat easier, have more privacy, and not be right next to the loud water front tourist town. I really struggle with distances when performing this maneuver, probably much more than Jess. The trick is to drop enough chain to be secure with proper scope and back toward the shore but only get to a safe distance with enough depth, then someone needs to quickly get ashore with a long line and either tie to a rock or big tree. The person aboard needs to tighten up quickly the windward line ashore and then bring in anchor chain to get everything tight. The stern line person then gets a second line to another rock that is used on lee side, in case of a wind shift. In a cross wind with other boats in place this maneuver is always a bit scary as it needs to happen quickly before you get blown onto the boat next to you. And you need to have a good set on your anchor, often which you are not sure happened as you can’t test it as well in this maneuver.

We have been using for one of our long lines ashore an item we bought from another sailer in the US. Its called an Ankorlina, and is a heavy braided strap that goes onto a reel on the back of the boat. It has about 300 feet of length to it so its ideal when we need a really long line, or want to use it for a stern anchor. The downside is that its attached to boat, or the reel, and the only way to get it off the boat if needed would be to cut it, or take it apart at the reel, which in an emergency situation you would never have time to do. For our main 33kg Rocna anchor we have 180 feet of chain, and another 200 feet of rope spliced on. In Fiskardo the area to anchor is deep and comes up quickly to shore. I prefer to anchor on all chain and not use the rode as our windlass has trouble retrieving/deploying rode as the gypsy is damaged. I also have trust issues with the spliced on line, which are likely unfounded. So we dropped the anchor in 50 feet of water and I let out approximately 140 feet of chain, not enough. I was too close to shore to let out more. Ideally I would like to have had out 250 feet of chain, of course I don’t have that much and with boats on the other side of the harbor I couldn’t get that much out anyway. As we were in very light winds with no change forecast I only had slight angina. Because of my angst, not feeling like I had enough chain out and rocks behind me, I decided to make a super long line from an old halyard, and several dock lines tied together and switch out the Ankorlina for this, just in case I needed to get rid of the line from the boat going to the shore. This turned out to be a good idea. The next morning we were alerted by screaming lady on a boat right next to us that we were dragging anchor. We quickly jumped out of bed, got the engine running and dropped our lines going ashore and raised the anchor. Crisis averted. We reset our anchor, this time a little further out and backed into the same space where our lines tied to the shore were. With this position we dropped in 60 feet and put out almost all of our chain, with just a little left on the windlass. Still not enough in retrospect. Usually our infallible Rocna anchor would never drag but this holding must have been suspect on top of the fact that I didn’t get out as much chain as I would like. I should have have dropped in 80 feet, and let out all the chain and just cleated off the rode to a bow cleat. Anyway, we seemed secure and again no major weather change was forecast. However, in the early evening some thunderstorms came in and the wind switched around to the south. We had several decent gusts and we held well, so I was more at ease with our anchor holding through the night. However, at about 11pm that night, deep into a game of spades, the wind picked up suddenly to somewhere in the 30+ knot range and we dragged, AGAIN, but quickly toward the rocks on shore. Our rudder thudded against a rock and Jess and I darted into action. Bang, Bang, Bang we were hitting some rocks behind us. Jess immediately had the engine in forward at high speed to get us off the shore. Our lines ashore were as tight as a bar and I slackened them quickly while trying to keep all my digits in tact at the same time. I had three lines ashore, one by one I got them off while Jess kept the bow into the wind and off the shore.

Our tracks from the night of the storm

We then quickly got out to our anchor while bringing it in on the windlass and keeping the bow pointed to weather. At the same time there were about 5 other boats around us who were in the same predicament. It was absolute pandemonium as each was trying to get off the lee shore. We were still in process of raising our anchor and one of the boats was in full speed reverse headed right at us. I yelled to white knuckled Jess, stunned Patty and wide eyed Mike, “Prepare for Impact”!! I was up at the bow dropping chain back out and yelling at the top of my lungs to this green horn in his charter boat, “FORWARD, FORWARD FORWARD”. He turned around and saw us at the last second, yelled sorry in a British accent, and we missed one another by half a boat length. I wasn’t sure why he was in reverse and going at absolute full speed but this somehow was his tactic during the mayhem. Everybody that dragged anchor were in different stages of their escape. We got all of our electronics up and running, nav lights on, and jockeyed into the wind for about 30-40 minutes slowly making our way out of the harbor. We then decided to return back to the harbor and circle inside as the wind was decreasing. There were 2 others doing the same thing so this proved to be a decent test of maneuvering, at night in a small harbor. The storm passed as fast as it arrived. There was no where to tie up on the quay, and we were not returning to our last position where we had now dragged twice, so we anchored right in the middle of the harbor, with ALL our chain out. We had just enough swing room and there were no ferries scheduled in the night so we spent the night here, safe. I think my body had a natural alarm set so every 20 minutes or so I poked my had out of our bedroom hatch. All the other boats that blew off their anchor, except one, left for another place for the night. I think Mike and Patty both got a taste of reality for life on the water. Its certainly not all palm trees cool breezes and frozen drinks. So far my experience with living on a boat is that I am much more comfortable being far far from land than near it. Its only near land that you can really run into something, except for tankers and oil platforms, but those we see easily.

Once we were all awake and in the cockpit the next morning it was just a matter of waiting for a space at the quay to open up. We took a spot around 10 am and were securely tied to the quay. Patty Mike and Jess were leaving this afternoon for the other side of the island where they would stay the night and catch a super early flight to Athens to spend a few days. I was staying in Fiskardo and waiting for Jess to return in a few days.

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