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

Cody Reviews his 10-day cruise in a SageCat

Cody summaries his thoughts on sailing the San Juan Islands, SageCat and provides a couple of packing lists –

This trip through the San Juan Islands really opened my eyes to how much more there is to explore in this beautiful archipelago.  My wife and her friend both raved about how great and relaxing of a time they had, and we are already planning for a trip to visit the northern San Juan Islands such as Stuart, Patos, Sucia, and Orcas.

Sweet Potato [my Sage Marine SageCat] performed flawlessly under a multitude of conditions and provided a very comfortable home for the three of us and our pup.  I can’t speak highly enough of the merits of a small, seaworthy, easy to rig and easy to handle boat.  I know Sagecat is not the only choice out there to fit these requirements, but she does them as well or better than any boat her size that I know of.

The bottom line is, get out there and sail, wherever you are and in whatever boat you have.  There are so many beautiful places to be visited and experiences to be had by boat.  Especially by small boat!

 

Below is a list of some of the gear I took along:

Cooking:

  • Single burner GasOne butane stove
  • 3 bottles of butane
  • Primus Stainless Steel Campfire Cookset   
  • 3 sets of plastic camping plates, bowls, silverware

 

Boat Gear:

  • 10’6” Jimmy Styks Inflatable Paddleboard, two piece paddle and pump
  • 3 gallon bucket and WagBags for legal and odor free waste management
  • 3 quality life vests and one dog life vest
  • Navisafe portable LED navigation lights
  • Honda 2.3 hp long shaft outboard
  • 5 Gallons of ethanol free gasoline (we burned less than two gallons on the entire trip)
  • 13 lb Mantus anchor, Mantus swivel, 30’ of 1/4” high test galvanized chain, 150’ of 1/2” rode
  • 4.4 lb Lewmar Bruce anchor, 15’ of 3/16” galvanized chain, 50’ of 3/8” rode
  • Handheld VHF
  • Suntactics 14v solar panel
  • Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Battery charger
  • Flares, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, 3 gallon collapsable canvas bucket for bailing and various other safety items
  • Yeti Hopper 30 soft cooler
  • 3 boat fenders
  • Extensive tool kit
  • Seadog telescoping boat hook
  • Bushnell Marine Binoculars
  • Ocean Rodeo Soul Drysuit
  • 3 sleeping bags and pillows
  • Multiple charts, current table books and a cruising guide book for the San Juan Islands
  • JBL Flip 4 Waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker
  • Spyderco Atlantic Salt knife (lashed to my PFD)

 

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.

Day 9 of Cody’s San Juan Islands trip

Roche Harbor to Fisherman Bay –

This hazy, smoky morning began with a shower at the marina, a quick coffee for all of us and a stop by our friend’s boat to pick up our battery before departing on our longest sail of the trip so far.  My wife had visited Lopez Village about five years ago for a brief afternoon and had fallen in love with the cute little town and laid back setting.  She was really wanting to go spend a bit more time there and show her friend Jen around, so Fisherman bay was to be revisited.  We motored out of Roche harbor in no wind at all, but after about three miles, a nice breeze from the north filled in so we killed the motor, hoisted sail and had a wonderful downwind ride for the remaining 11 miles to fisherman bay.  On two occasions much larger sail boats clearly changed course to come sail by us, say hello and comment on what a cute little boat we had.  Clearly I am biased, but Sweet Potato does have some striking lines.  Jerry Montgomery knows a thing or two about drawing a nice looking boat!  

bowl at Fishermans BayWe dropped anchor in Fisherman bay once again and, since it was such a quiet and peaceful setting, decided that we would spend the rest of the evening cooking a feast on the boat, watching the sunset, and listening to an audio book.  The cockpit was a bit crowded with three of us while trying to prepare and cook a meal, so I was ordered to the foredeck with a cold beverage.  A short while later I was handed a delightful plate full of food and a refill of my beverage.  We all enjoyed our meal as the sun set, and spent the next few hour telling stories and sharing laughs.  Days don’t get a whole lot better than this one as far as I can tell.

Day 8 of Cody’s San Juan Islands Cruise

Cody spends the day in Roche Harbor exploring and seeing the sights –

roche harbor mausoleumThe wind forecast or the day had called for a sustained breeze of about 17 knots from the north. This, I figured, was probably not the best type of day for us to make our longest jump from Roche Harbor, all the way back to Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island, so we made the decision to stay put for the day. Roche Harbor is a beautiful resort town on the northwest tip of San Juan Island. The marina is full of numerous multi-million dollar yachts and the resort is quite an upscale place. It is all built around an old lime and concrete quarry operation which operated in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We had ice cream, browsed the few shops there, and hiked to an eerie old mausoleum secluded in a forest which more closely resembles a site for ceremonies than any other mausoleum I’ve ever seen. Although slightly creepy, it is a beautiful setting and structure and I would happily recommend the hike to go see it.

Roche HarborWe made it back into Roche Harbor from our hike just in time to watch their nightly “colors” ceremony where the entire place comes to a standstill as the flags are lowered to their various anthems. I nearly had a cardiac event when they set off a small cannon just before lowing the old stars and stripes. It seemed that only the three of us from our boat were startled by it, so I’m guessing we were some of the only first timers there.

 
Earlier in the day I had bumped into one of the old sailors I’ve known and raced against back in southeast Washington. He and his wife had brought their Seaward 26 up to the islands for a few weeks, a trip which they make nearly every summer. They showed us great hospitality and invited us to enjoy a ginger beer aboard their lovely boat. Another great help they offered us was to leave our portable phone charging power bank to charge on their shore power overnight. This was our only means of electrical power and I would hook it up to a 15w solar panel during the day to charge and then we would all charge our phones off of the battery at night. This worked well when I was alone, but you can imagine how much cell phone usage (and associated charging needed) happens when you have two young women in their late 20’s and early 30’s on vacation together sailing through and exploring beautiful islands. Needless to say, our battery bank was nearly depleted and the overnight charge was much appreciated!

 
We were all exhausted again from the sun and busy day, so we went back out to the boat and watched an episode of Friends on Netflix while laying in bed. Not a single one of us was awake to see the end of that 20 minute episode.

Day 7 of Cody’s San Juan Islands Adventure

SageCat Sweet Potato goes from Jones Island to the famous destination of Roche Harbor –

We paddled ashore in the morning with our breakfast supplies and cooked a mountain of a meal.  Eggs, hash browns, warmed tortilla shells, coffee and some bananas really started the day off on the right foot.  After cleaning up and taking our cooking gear back to the boat, we set off to hike around Jones Island.  There is a nice path around the perimeter of the island which is about four miles long and provides some wonderful views of the surrounding islands and waters.  After our hike, we were all rather over heated so we paddled back to the boat, changed into swimsuits and went for a (rather short) swim!  The water in the islands hovers in the mid to low 50s year round and so you don’t see many swimmers in them and when you do, they tend not to linger too long.  

sailing near Jones IslandAfter cooling off, we stowed whatever gear we had out, weighed anchor, and headed off to our next stop, Roche Harbor, about six miles west and slightly north of our anchorage at Jones Island.  We again were treated to light breeze and calm seas for our day’s sail.  As we cruised along we listened to an audio book and enjoyed the sun and cool breeze.  We were able to sail the entire way to Roche Harbor, only dropping sail as we entered the crowded and bustling bay.  After a few minutes of motoring around and looking at my charts, struggling to find a spot suitable to anchor, I finally selected a spot to drop the hook very close to a beach and not too far from the full-to-the-brim guest dock.  After checking our depth and the tide charts, I decided that it would be most prudent to anchor off the bow with our primary anchor and off the stern with our secondary anchor to prevent us from swinging during the very low tide in the middle of the night toward the beach, which could possibly have left us with our keel resting on the bottom.  Stern anchor set, we inflated the SUP and headed into Roche Harbor for a couple hours of sight seeing before the sun set.  

It was during this evening that we noticed some very beautiful colors in the sunset, which alerted us to a thickening smoke in the air.  The previous day we had thought the air looked a bit hazy, but hadn’t thought much of it.  This evening was a different story.  As the sun sank low on the horizon, you could easily look straight at the dull orange ball.  Our air quality and crystal clear skies would not be nearly as pristine for the remainder of our cruise.  As it grew dark, we made our way back out to the boat and slept deeply as we were all exhausted from a long day of hiking, swimming, lounging during a sunny sail and exploring a new town.  A day well spent.  

Day 6 of Cody’s SageCat San Juan Islands Cruise

Cody and crew go from Friday Harbor to Jones Island –

After a nice breakfast in town, we stowed the gear on the boat and set out for our next destination, Jones Island, about five and a half miles to the north of Friday Harbor.  The breeze was a very steady seven knots or so and also coming from the north, but the skies were clear and the seas were flat, so we enjoyed a few hours of leisurely tacking back and forth across the channel working our way up to our desired destination.  The wind was forecasted to increase in strength through the night and continue blowing from the north, so we chose to anchor in the small bay on the south side of Jones.  When we arrived we found that there were four mooring buoys, all of which were occupied by large yachts.  Not to worry as we were again able to sneak between them and the shore line with plenty of extra depth and swinging room for our tiny boat.  The water in this bay was exceptionally clear and we could easily see every detail of the bottom and were able to inspect the set of the anchor as well as the daily habits of several little crabs meandering around the bay.  

Jones Island

Jones Island is a state park and the only permanent structures on it are a few very nice outhouses (if an outhouse can ever be described as being nice).  We spent our last few hours of daylight after our arrival on the island cooking another delicious pasta dish and had some fine garlic bread to go with it.  A group of teenagers and their guides arrived by kayak as we were cooking and as they set up camp ashore, came into contact with a creature which would torment them for the next 12 hours.  The fearsome Jones Island raccoon!  Apparently living on such a small island with very few predators and not a huge food supply leads to some very bold raccoon behavior.  As we ate, we watched a raccoon continually raid their picnic table, tent and food bins despite several angry, shout filled chasing back over to the bushes.  We again witnessed this several times during the night as I was awoken by a bright light shining through the port aboard Sweet Potato.  I sat up alarmed the first time this happened, only to discover that it was these campers, shining their high powered flashlights through the bushes and trees, trying to spot this raccoon and his/her buddies as their continued raids on their supplies were keeping them up in the campground.  I was very happy to be safe and snug in our cozy little cabin as I rolled over and went back to sleep.