Dragging Anchor

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 3 Jan 2012 12:35

Position: 35 39.26 S 137 38.75 E
At anchor off Marsden Point, Kangaroo Island
Wind: South sou' west, F6 Strong Breeze
Weather: mostly sunny, warm
Day's run: 8 nm

Yesterday after a bit of a snooze to catch up on some sleep I stuck my head out of the companionway at about 1.30 pm and discovered that Mark had surreptitiously arrived while I was asleep and has secured alongside a pontoon. I called him by mobile phone and found out that as he had sailed in one of the locals had hailed him and offered the use of a mooring or the pontoon. He had obviously chosen the pontoon. I wasted little time in weighing anchor and coming alongside Starwave (Mark's boat) to enjoy the convenience of stepping ashore without the need for a dinghy. We subsequently had a good chin wag and enjoyed a meal ashore at the local pub.

This morning I walked ashore to get a few fresh supplies then went for a swim to give Sylph's bottom a bit of a scrub. I am afraid to say that the anti-fouling paint has once again proved a bit of a disappointment, only being nine months old and already there is a lot of growth.

The plan for today was to sail in company a short distance to a bay to the north of Kingscote harbour, there to anchor overnight and getting under way early tomorrow morning to try and make Thistle Island near Port Lincoln before dark. The wind proved very fickle, initially starting fresh from the west then a short while later backing to the south east then veering to the south sou' west then going very light and all over the place. We both started off with a reef in the mainsail and reduced headsail but I soon had the reefs shaken out and ended up trying all sorts of sail combinations in a vain attempt to keep up with Marks lighter and faster craft. At one moment we would be running goose wing, then I would have to drop the pole as the wind swing either into the north or south or in fact any other direction whatsoever, sometimes we would be totally becalmed but rarely did the breeze increase above about ten knots. Sylph did pretty well considering her older heavy design and dirty bottom but eventually Mark snuck ahead and found a light south-westerly which carried him into the anchorage while Sylph drifted around with a light to non-existent easterly only a few hundred meters away. We eventually came to anchor a good half hour behind Starwave, but at least we persisted and managed to sail all the way.

Once at anchor I got the dinghy in the water and rowed over to Starwave where we enjoyed dinner together and a couple of beers. As we were sitting in the cockpit exchanging notes about the day the wind started to pick up and we noticed the Starwave was slowly getting closer to Sylph, she was obviously dragging anchor. We wasted no time getting underway and motored around a bit to find a patch of sand to reset the anchor in. I congratulated myself for having found a sandy patch to let Sylph's anchor go in as we had sailed in, feeling confident that she should be OK where she was. After dinner Mark stuck looked around on deck to make sure that Starwave had not moved but much to my chagrin he hailed down to me below that while Starwave was OK it appeared Sylph was now dragging. When I looked up on deck there was no doubt about it, Sylph was already several hundred yards away, light was fading rapidly and there was no time to lose if Sylph was not going to disappear into Investigator Strait with all my worldly possessions. I quickly donned a spray jacket with a built in inflatable life jacket, grabbed a torch and a portable radio, jumped in the dinghy and started rowing for Sylph. Fortunately it did not take me too long to get back to her as it appeared that the anchor had found some good holding and reset itself. I gratefully climbed on board and gave Mark a call to let him know everything was OK. Seeing as the anchor appeared well secured I decided rather then weigh anchor and try and reset it again in shallower water with the distinct probability of further problems, that instead I would simply let out a bit more chain and keep a close eye on things where we were.

The dinghy is now secured on deck, hopefully the wind will abate overnight and we shall have no further dramas.

All is well.