Anchors, Obey

It seems every boater has a “this happened when I was a beginner” story to tell. Heck, even many longtime boaters have stories to tell that they wish could be ascribed to the “this happened when I was a beginner” category — but can’t. That’s because in boating there’s never a time when someone can say, “Now I know everything there is to know.”

Many stories of boating mishaps can trace their roots to anchoring. Dropping (aweighing?) it, setting it, weighing it. There’s the chance for an “oops” moment in all three phases. When it comes to anchoring, practice probably doesn’t make perfect, but it can make pretty darn good.

The writer of this month’s cruising feature, “Long Night in Fossil Bay” (p. 22), had an anchoring experience during his and his wife’s first “big” cruise that could have turned them off to cruising in a hurry. Instead, it taught Ed and Barb Lee valuable lessons that they have since applied to more than 3,000 miles of cruising through the waters of the Pacific Northwest, on both sides of the border.

The first lesson? Have an anchor appropriate to one’s boat. In their case, they upgraded to a 70-pounder that has served them well. Another lesson, maybe a little more lighthearted? Boaters with anchoring mishaps are never alone. The Lees discovered that the day after their incident, when members of their yacht club shared anchoring tales, some more distressing than their own.

Anchoring, like so many facets of boating, is a process that requires careful consideration, planning and practice. Predetermined hand signals are vital.

Luckily, Ed and Barb had theirs worked out, because the batteries in their radio units were dead. Knowing who’s going to operate the boat and who’s going to handle things on the bow is another key piece of intel. Once again, the Lees knew ahead of time who was going where, so any potential irreversible problems were avoided. Having a cat that’s attuned to the boat’s at-anchor mannerisms is a bonus. I kid, partially, but in the Lees’ case, it was their cat that alerted them to something being “off.” Seriously.

That’s all starting on page 22. Boat owners who haven’t thought about their anchoring plan will probably give it some consideration after reading the story. A couple doesn’t want to meet on the bow during an unplanned drift and wonder who in the heck is supposed to be driving the boat.

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