Anchoring

I just love going for a cruise and finding a quiet cove away from all the other boats. These are one of many moments where a small trailer sailor like the Sage 17, Sage 15 and SageCat do what other boats can’t. Gunkholing requires an anchor. Here I’ll discuss how I store, launch and retrieve an anchor on a Sage.

When cruising I carry two anchors on the boat. Each set of ground tackle is in an anchor bag and has 200’ of rode (rope) and 10’ of chain. In addition I also carry an extra 200’ of rode. The anchors, their rodes & chains & bags and the spare rode fit easily in the Sage 17, 15 or SageCat cockpit lockers. My usual practice is to keep the ground tackle in the starboard cockpit locker.

When I come into an anchorage I take out the anchor I’ll be using and set it and its bag of chain & rode on the cockpit floor. Once the anchoring location I like is found I lower the anchor off the aft starboard over the cleat. Why here? Well this keeps the rode away from the outboard’s prop and single handing keeps me at the helm v. going forward to the bow.

I use the motor to set the anchor and tie off the rode to the aft starboard cleat. Now, this is important, it is not safe to anchor off the transom. Why? If the sea comes up the waves crashing into the transom can also fill the cockpit! There are also higher stresses put on the boat and anchor as the waves hit the transom. Finally … it is really uncomfortable!

After watching how the boat swings and assuring the anchor is set, leaving the rode tied to the starboard stern cleat, I go forward with the anchor bag and rode and tie to the bow cleat. For added safety I tie the bitter end of the rode around one of the bow pulpit stanchions. I then return to the cockpit and release the rode at the stern cleat (adding about 15-20’ of scope to my anchor set).

The boat will now swing bow to the wind and all is ready for a wonderful evening ‘on the hook’.

happy_sailor

Sage 17 AIR BORN ‘on the hook’ in Blind Bay, Shaw Island, San Juan Islands, Salish Sea, Washington State.

When i’m ready to retrieve the anchor I go forward and retrieve the rode from the bow cleat and re-secure to the starboard stern cleat. I then pull the anchor rode into the cockpit floor until the rode is almost vertical. I now get the boat ready to leave (ie, take off the sail covers, lay out the sheets, collect the anchor bag from the bow, start the outboard, etc). As the boat rocks it will loosen the anchor making it much easier to raise … especially if it was very well set it deep sticky mud!

I raise the anchor and lay it and the rode on the cockpit sole to drain excess water. Once I have left the anchorage I then stow the anchor, chain, rode & bag back into the starboard cockpit locker.

As part of a longer video of me cruising on a Sage 17 you can watch me using the above system. Here is a link –

SKIP AHEAD to to 5 minutes, if the link above doesn’t do that automatically, to see the anchoring system being used!

Let me know what you think.

– Dave

Day 10 of Cody’s San Juan Islands trip in a SageCat

Day 10 – Fisherman Bay to Anacortes –

I had shared my tales of Holly B’s bakery with the girls the previous evening, so we all got up early and made a pilgrimage to this baking holy site in the morning. After again being dazzled with their confectioner’s wizardry, we spent a few more hours exploring the village shops and getting a few things at the grocery store for our afternoon sail.

Our plan was to sail back around Lopez Island and spend a few hours enjoying the beaches and views at Spencer Spit state park and then making a short hop over to James Island, another state park, which would be a good jumping off point for crossing the Rosario strait on Saturday morning to get back to Anacortes, where our truck and trailer were parked. There was not a breath of wind when we got back to the boat at around noon, so we motored the roughly eight miles with a hefty current helping us for the first half of the trip to Spencer Spit. Upon arrival, we again anchored and paddled ashore where we had a few fun filled hours of beach combing and hiking. I even got in a quick nap on the warm sand. At about 5 o’clock we got back to the boat and again began motoring toward James Island which was about four miles away, where we planned to stay for the evening.

I had been a bit stressed about crossing the Rosario Strait with the girls aboard since I had experienced some rather rough conditions and unpredicted winds a week and a half ago. The winds were forecasted to be about 10 knots from the north, which should have been fine, but the slack tide window on Saturday morning was very short, with strong currents from the south before the slack and quickly turning to strong currents from the north. The late afternoon slack tide window on Saturday had much more moderate current velocities and a longer slack period so I knew I could always wait for that time, but still I was feeling uncertain about what the conditions would turn out to look like.

As we motored up to James Island on a completely glassy sea state, I was finally able to look across the Rosario Strait. It was as flat as a board. Not a ripple to be seen all the way across to Anacortes. I pulled out my current tables and we were perfectly timed to cross the strait in a large window of slack tide with very small currents predicted on either side of the slack. I made the decision that we would be wisest to cross while the conditions were perfect and find a place to anchor near Washington Park, where the trailer was located, and then simply pull the boat out of the water in the morning and get an earlier start home. The girls both seemed happy with this plan so we enjoyed a delightfully uneventful motor across the Rosario strait.

As we approached Washington Park, I had planned to anchor just off the beach as it was protected from the direction of the light winds predicted during the night. However, I also quickly noticed a huge sign on the beach, facing toward the water, reading “DROP NO ANCHOR. ELECTRICAL CABLES UNDER WATER”, or something to that effect. The sun was getting low on the horizon and there didn’t seem to be any quick protected anchorage to get to, so I tied up to the dock, raised the dagger board, backed the trailer in the water and hauled Sweet Potato up into the parking lot. We were all famished after a long day of hiking and motoring in the sun, so we left the boat on the trailer and drove into Anacortes for a meal. We ended up at a great little Mexican place called Real Tequila and we all ate until we were about to pop. The food was fantastic and the service was equally so. Back in the campground, now nearly dark, I reconnected the truck to the trailer and we all walked down to the beach to enjoy the final colors of the sunset and the lapping of the water on the pebble beach. Now that the boat was on the trailer and had the centerboard taking up one sleeping position, I was relegated to the bed of the truck since I had the warmest sleeping bag.