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From the comments that I’ve been reading on our friends’ Facebook status updates, it’s been a windy couple of days everywhere. Dominica hasn’t been spared those conditions either and although it was blowing somewhat less yesterday, the day before saw the wind frequently gusting over 30 knots. This type of weather always puts boaters a bit on edge and for good reason as those without sufficient ground tackle, or without well-set anchors, often find themselves drifting across the bay.

Just after breakfast on Sunday morning we were drawn out into our cockpit by the loud sound of a nearby air horn. This single horn was joined by another, and calls soon rang out over the VHF that a catamaran was dragging anchor. As Prince Rupert Bay is quite large with dozens of boats at anchor, it took us a while to determine just which boat these people were referring to. We saw only one catamaran underway and it was moving so quickly, and at an angle almost perpendicular to the wind, that we thought it must be under power. The bridle lines dragging loosely beside the boat was a giveaway though that all was not well.

There are a lot of boats at anchor in Prince Rupert Bay.

At the same time as I was lowering our dinghy into the water, Rebecca and I saw the catamaran blow by two monohulls and head straight towards the shore. We were both amazed that the boat didn’t strike any other vessels because it sure looked like it was going to. I jumped in our dinghy to race over there to lend a hand and arrived just as one other boater did, and at the same time the boat came to rest on the rocky shoreline. The two of us were banging on the hull, unsuccessfully trying to raise the awareness of whoever was on board. Unbeknownst to us at the time, even though there was a dinghy tied to the cat’s stern, the owners were not onboard, having been picked up to go on a river tour earlier that day.

Banging on the hull, trying to wake up the boat’s owners.

Within a few minutes, after hearing the call for assistance on the radio, several boat boys and a couple of other cruisers showed up on scene. As there was little I would have been able to do with our little dinghy and 9.9 HP engine, I stood off and let the guys with the big engines deal with the issue. Fortunately there was not a lot of wave action driving the boat onto the rocks and they were able to get it off the shore in short order. Within minutes the stray cat (pun intended) was safely tied to an available mooring ball. It looked to me as if the boat might have escaped with little more than some cosmetic damage.

Boat boys to the rescue.

The entire rescue party on hand.

While this bit of drama had most everyone’s attention, it was not the only bit of excitement. Rebecca, who had stayed on board ZTC to make sure our own boat didn’t run into any problems, witnessed the boat just to starboard of us drag anchor, narrowly missing the monohull astern of it. Thankfully that boat’s owners were onboard and they we able to deal with the situation before it got out of hand. We also heard a couple of other reports over the radio of boats not staying put as their owners had intended. Fortunately for us, our boat didn’t move. It’s extremely nice to know though that should we ever run into trouble like this, there are people around who will take action to help out!

Another close call.

18 Comments

  1. Just another shitty day in Paradise.. Hope the Leopard 38 was OK.

  2. Acceleration is a major issue with multihulls. When they break loose, since they are fairly light, the wind and waves can get them moving relatively quickly in a very short time.

    This is one reason I really dislike fluke-type anchors, especially the lightweight ones like the Fortress,, for use as a primary on any multihull. If it unsets or breaks out, the large surface area combined with the speed a multihull can get will prevent it from ever having a chance to reset, since the flukes and speed will cause the anchor to “kite” and never touch the bottom.

  3. It would be interesting to know what went wrong with the stray cat and actually caused it to drag anchor. In your opinion what could have been done to prevent the loose boat. For example, should they have put down more chain, or more scope, or a double anchor? It’s always nice to have a lessons learned perspective. Great post!!!

  4. Kudos to you for going to the stray cats aid. After having our boat drag while we were not on it we decided to leave the keys in the ignition any time we left the boat. Never drug again but we had peace of mind knowing that if we did the recue crew could at least use our engine to save the boat. Got to tell you we love reading your blog. Keep up the great posts and pics!

  5. It seems like dragging anchor is something that can (and probably will) happen to anybody. Even, just recently, to world-renowned Brion Toss…

    bob
    s/v Eolian
    Seattle

  6. So, basically, you are confirming the wisdom of always checking the condition of a mooring in any of these places. It seems that they are put into position and never serviced. The same happens everywhere.

    Mike

    • On the rare occasions when we use a mooring, when possible, we dive on them. Our friends even suggested backing down on the moorings as you would an anchor.

  7. Just curious, how’s Rocky’s batting average? I assume that he’s done well, since I’ve missed any stories of drama. I only recall reading about you using the Fortress once, in Baltimore to keep off a dock. Have there been others? I’ll probably leave her unattended in Cape May for days this summer, so I’m curious. For that, it would be very tempting to set a second.

    I’ve not used my Manson Supreme (no cute name–calling it Charlie would feel tasteless) but a few dozen times, but it sure has been.

    • 1000. At the risk of calling the anchor gods’ wrath down upon us, we have never dragged anchor, and we have had numerous people drag anchor all around us. We are careful where we set it, dive on it when we can, use plenty of scope and always back down on it. All those things likely contribute to our anchoring success.

      As for the Fortress, we used it once as a kedge (the time you mentioned) and two other times as stern anchors. Each of those three times we have had a super tough time getting the anchor up. When it buries itself, it is down for good!

  8. Hi Mike:

    Once again, a very relevant topic to all boaters – present and future. I’ve heard it said in many anchorages and in many a salty-dog tavern that “there are two types of boaters out there – those that have dragged anchor, and those that are yet to!”.

    Got that off our list on our first night out in the Bahamas in October 2010. Anchored in a marginal anchorage just off the neck of a cut. The ebbing current roared through at 5 – 6 knots and simply reversed our cat on the anchor and took us for a ride. We quickly reset the bow anchor and also deployed a stern anchor and then stood anchor watch all night until first light and headed for safer ground. Our one and only drag and really our own fault for choosing an unfamiliar marginal anchorage to start with.

    By the way, the catamaran in the photo is definitely a Leopard 40 (and not an L38 as suggested by an earlier poster. Glad to hear the damage appears largely cosmetic. Like you, we always chose to dive our moorings and would always back down on them slightly to give them a proverbial “test tug”.

    Cheers,

    Alan

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