Snags (not BBQ'd sausages)

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 18 Jun 2012 06:19

16.00 Position: 38 08.0 S 144 57.9 E
Course: North nor' east Speed: 5 knots
Wind: NW F3, gentle breeze
Weather: mostly cloudy, cool

I was hoping to make it across the Bay today to be anchored in time to visit my brother Mark and family, and there to enjoy one of his family famous barbecues, (though it must be said that John is the senior hand at this male Australian art form).

It was always going to be a bit of a long shot, with almost 40 miles to travel, but a spot of bother with weighing anchor, and the wind being more on the nose than I had expected, has pretty much put the kibosh on this plan. When we came to anchor yesterday afternoon I noticed that the anchor appeared to take up rather abruptly, which I thought might indicate that it had fouled something, but then I thought the bottom looks pretty good holding and maybe it had just dug in very quickly, and thought little more of it until this morning when, having heaved the anchor chain in as far as I could, it was standing bar taught up and down and wasn't going to budge another inch. The water was only about 5 meters deep and quite clear, looking down over the side I could see what was no doubt a disused mooring tackle, and Sylph's anchor had got itself fouled under one of the heavy chains that radiated out from a central mass like a spiders web. Clearly this was going to take a little while to sort out.

I was not at all keen to go for a dive in the chilly waters and in any event wasn't sure that I would be able to release the anchor this way. I would have to have plenty of slack in the chain then dive down, pull the heavy anchor free along with about 20 meters of chain and ten tonnes of boat, with a tidal stream all pulling against me. If it was the warm tropic waters of Queensland or the Pacific, I would have given it a go with nothing to lose, but here I reckon I would have suffered a severe case of hypothermia and possibly a hernia to boot. No, I needed another strategy.

So here is what I did. I got a five meter length of chain, made a small loop in the end of it with a shackle which I secured around the anchor chain, tied the other end of the chain to about 10 meters of rope then, while the anchor chain was hauled in bar taught and standing up and down, I slid the loop of chain down the anchor cable until it hit the bottom and hopefully had slid over the anchor stock towards its crown. I then let out the anchor cable so that the anchor was now lying flat on the seabed (I hoped) but so that there was plenty of slack in the releasing line I had just rigged. Then I motored up to the anchor, let our more anchor cable so that the releasing line was now shorter than the amount of anchor chain I had paid out, then kept on motoring forward so that the releasing line would come tight and pull the anchor out from under the mooring chain. I wasn't over optimistic that this plan would work so I was very happy when it worked perfectly first go. I continued motoring forward quite a bit just to be sure and so that when I went to haul in the anchor we didn't drift back over the disused mooring and get snagged again. Once I was certain as I could be that we were free I went back to the foredeck and heaved the whole lot back inboard. Hooray! We were free.

Now all that of course put a significant delay in the start of my day but I was still pretty happy, as things sure could have proved a lot more difficult then they turned out. We are making for Hobsons Bay right at the northern most point of Port Phillip which should provide us with shelter from the forecast westerlies for the next few days. At our current rate of progress we should be there about 10 pm, just a little late to make Mark's place in time for dinner, but not to worry, hopefully we will be able to postpone until tomorrow evening when I shall enjoy their hospitality all the more.

All is well.