Date: 9 October 2014. Emergency Anchor Up (OpenCPN
boater asked "Your anchor alarm goes off and your anchor is dragging,....(and
it is happening at 2:00AM when its really dark with no moon) and to
make thing worse the wind is blowing you really hard toward the
unwanted shore and its also starting to rain), what do you and your
crew do?" Here is the routine for Seaweed, when the anchor isn't
First, I shut down the inverter and start the engine. Once running,
I turn back on the inverter.
Side Note: I worry that the inverter powering the
boat might be too large a draw on the batts for starting. The
refrigerator takes quite a bit of power and I want all that's in the
batteries available. This is the way I do it though probably an
Next I turn
on running lights and start powering into the waves (going ahead
about 20') ... I want to take pressure of the anchor chain and
sounder is activated too, if it's not already on. Often I leave it
on with an alarm pre-set so it's not uncommon for the depth sounder
to run 24-7 for weeks on end. If memory serves me, mine draws just
.25 amps so in the overall scheme of things, it's on.
In the meantime, I've turned on the computer and looked at
OpenCPN [http://opencpn.org] to see where I am in relationship to
where I need to be to find safety. This program (OpenCPN) works with
a GPS attached to the computer via a USB. No internet connection is
necessary for it to operate.
free, an open-source software developed by a sailor for those of us
who cannot afford multiple-thousand dollar solutions to navigating.
It's supported by donations so make one, or more! It's an amazing
program and I like it.
the current version if yours is at all quirky. Mine is just fine.
though is the help file. It's written for real people, and I've
found answers to everything in it. And it works off-line which for
me is a tangible bonus.
As much as
I like and rely on my paper charts, having OpenCPN is
my assurance that all is well. I consider both essential
to safe boating.
it today. More info can be found at:
OpenCPN Lesson: The square is only
visible when you're in gear and making way. If at anchor just the
boat shows. Red indicates your GPS is functioning and has a fix on
Assessing that, I'll start raising the anchor with the windlass.
My remote for the bow is always hanging above my bunk and
accessible from the foredeck. I use a snubber so I need to remove
that line from my chain.
Once that's done,
(snubber off) it's back inside for me. I'll finish raising the
anchor from my pilothouse and then head for safety. I already know that the scope I put out
was inadequate (and that's usually 7 to 1 even with all chain) so my
first instinct would be to move Seaweed into a more protected area.
Side note regarding my snubber:
It's just 15' of 5/8" three-strand, black and even if it were to
fall off the chain it is too short to get tangled into my propeller.
I'd have preferred 20' but this was what I had, so it's what I use.
Not perfect, but good enough...
I've read that having a longer
snubber (significantly longer, i.e. 40') is more effective at
lessening the effects of chain whip, however when weighed against
the danger of entangling my running gear, I opted for shorter.
the middle of the night at 0:dark-thirty and the anchor is back
would not chose to attempt to reset. I've already failed once here
and see no benefit in attempting again in the same area. My initial
set should have worked and whatever caused the failure is still "out
there" so I'd rather start fresh, someplace else.
Instead, I'll rely on the OpenCPN to guide me making note of the compass
course. And that's another reason why my running lights are on -- to power the
light in my compass. My old hand-held GPS has a bread-crumb trail
for departure so I can follow it as well. The paper chart is always
right by the helm, open to where I am with courses in pencil to
But first, determining where I am is made far less worrisome by
the addition of electronics. As much as I advocate and indeed use
paper charts, having the assurance of electronics has eased the "oh
shoot" moments and is a blessing. OpenCPN is my choice for back-up.
note to the time on the chart and within ten minutes the anchor up and
I am underway. I have done the up and departure in
five minutes (daytime) so feel quite confident dark would disorient
me a bit and double the time factor.
with a cold engine I'll be taking it easy until my engine
temperature comes up to normal. By keeping an eye on my gauges I'll
know when I can safely increase speed.
start the coffee (or tea) and plan on staying up until well past
daylight. I'm not a heroine and prefer to prove my mettle by
avoiding instances where I have to prove my seamanship. Thus, once
anchored, I'd be shopping for a new bigger anchor.