Monday, October 31, 2011

Big Bertha

Matanzas River
29 48.97 N 081 17.53 W

We had a leisurely day on the ICW.  We decided to bypass Saint Augustine.  We've seen the sights there before, and we had no errands to run on shore.  The bottom line was Libby's statement.  She said that if we stopped to get a mooring for the night, she would not be interested in going ashore.

And now for a topic left over from last summer:

In the picture below you see me holding Big Bertha. That’s what I call our 80 pound Luke anchor.

We bought Big Bertha specifically for Lake Champlain and places like Porter Bay. You see, zebra mussels have invaded the lake and made the water much clearer. That allowed sunlight to penetrate to the bottom to depths it never did before. That in turn caused an explosion in weeds, especially the kind called milfoil.

Many of my prior favorite anchorages were so choked with week that I couldn’t use them. I could drop the CQR anchor or the Danforth anchor but they wouldn’t bite. The problem was that the weeds were so thick that the lightweight anchors couldn’t penetrate down to the mud. I had to increase my minimum anchoring water depth on Champlain to 15’ and then to 20’. My favorite sheltered spots where I could anchor close in at 7’.

The solution was Big Bertha. She sure penetrates to the bottom. The two pictures below show us raising anchor after Tropical Storm Irene in Porter Bay. The entire 120’ of chain I had out was fouled with weeds, and Big Bertha brought up 150 pounds of weeds with her. I was sure sweating by the time we got all that on board and clear of weeds.

When not on Champlain, Big Bertha comes apart in three pieces. I store the pieces in the lazarette, down below the water line. A secondary benefit is that we have a great storm anchor if we ever need it. We felt extra secure during Irene with Big Bertha and 120’ of chain out in 7’ of water.

A fisherman’s type anchor (such as the Luke) is also useful if you must have short scope. Suppose you come into a harbor so crowded that you can’t anchor with anything more than a 3:1 or even 2:1 scope. Then the fisherman anchor can serve you well. They rely more on their own massive weight to hold rather than a clever shape.

Big Bertha is so big that she has a 7/8” shackle on the end. I use 3/8:” shackles to attach my anchors to our 5/16” chain. No way a 3/8” shackle can couple with a 7/8”. I have to tie an enormous bowline knot in our chain to attach it to Big Bertha. I wire down the loose end. It appears to do the job well. I've never tied a knot in chain otherwise.

When we are sailing on Champlain, Big Bertha can’t be left on deck. We carry her tied to the side up at the bow. I figured out how to do it in a way that isn’t loose and doesn’t scratch the hull.

When we pull into an anchorage on Champlain among all those local weekend sailors, you should see their eyes pop when I unleash Big Bertha.

1 comment:

  1. regards the photo of you holding the anchor: Why do I hear the "Old Spice" theme-song in my head????
    80#? Wow! I was thinking 65# would be a 'fer shure' anchor-weight for 32'.
    Care to elaborate on displacement/windage/anchor-type vs weight sometime?


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