Friday, July 11, 2014

Bessie Vindicated

Vergennes, Vermont

I fussed and worried about what I wrote about Bessie letting us down and dragging the other day during a storm. I want to continue to have confidence in her. Therefore I trolled my memory in detail, and I found something that allows me to make a new theory.

The picture above shows a Luke anchor of the type like Bessie. Visualize it sitting on the bottom doing her job. By definition, one of those big flukes will be dug into the mud and the other will be sticking up in the air (actually sticking up in the water). The cross bar at the top is mounted 90 degrees to the flukes to assure that one of those flukes always points down.

Now, the new evidence I found in my memory. The other night, the anchor dragged. Still worse, it refused to catch again and continued dragging more than 300 feet over the period of 15 minutes. I decided that we had to re-anchor. Libby and I both put on full foul weather gear and went out into the storm. The wind were no longer strong but it was raining very hard, and it was also very dark.

I pulled up the 100 feet of chain manually as I always do (we do not have an electric windlass). I noticed (this is the key part) that it pulled tight. I thought that I had come to the end and it remained to lift Bessie off the bottom. I switched to using the manual windlass. But then the chain suddently became slack again. I pulled in another 30 feet or so before it really became tight and I brought Bessie to the surface with everything appearing normal.
So here’s my new theory. I think that we had a loop of chain wrapped around the fluke that was sticking up. Thus when the storm hit, instead of the boat pulling Bessie from the shackle at end of the stock as we should, it pulled the fluke. The opposite fluke was pulled out of the mud. Bessie could not reset because she continued being pulled by the fluke. When I was bringing up the chain, the loop pulled tight but then slipped off the fluke.

How could that happen? By letting out too much chain too fast when we dropped the anchor. That is easier to do with an electric windlass, but we have to do it manually, and we screwed up. After Bessie hits bottom, we must back the boat up and let out extra chain to match the boat’s backward motion. That should prevent extra chain from piling up on top of Bessie’s flukes.

So does that prove the case? Hardly, but better evidence is unlikely to come forward, so that’s the best I’ll be able to do.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, no elecric windlass. I hope at the very least you have a manual winch type windlass -- I would think pulling in the anchor against a stiff breeze and/or current would be extremely challenging without any sort of winch. I find pulling in the anchor by hand can be a chore even in my 28 foot center console in certain conditions, and it has much less windage/wetted surface than a Wetsail 32.

    Fluke anchors like Bessie are tried and true but some newer designs have a lot of believers. Have you considered trying a Rocna or Super Max? If you drag again you might want to consider trying one.

    Hope all goes well and your cruising is fun.

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