Monday, December 28, 2009

Buoying the Anchor

A friend had to abandon his anchor South Freeport Harbor, Maine when he couldn't raise it. South Freeport has been a busy anchorage for two hundred years or more, so it is not surprising that his anchor fouled on an old cable, or possibly wreckage.

If he'd had a "tripping line", a buoyed line secured to the crown of the anchor, he could have pulled the anchor up and away from the cable by taking in on the buoy line.
We rarely buoy the anchor except when anchoring where we believe there are likely to be old cables and abandoned moorings. We may also buoy the anchor when we are in a crowded anchorage, as the buoy shows other yachts, and us, where our anchor lies, perhaps keeping boats from anchoring on top of us.

Our ready anchor is a 7.5 kilogram Bruce. At the crown we have a permanent 18 inch pennant of 1/4 inch Dyneema. The pennant finds daily use as a keeper, to keep the anchor in the roller. We also use the pennant to secure our tripping line. The buoy at the other end of the tripping line is a toggle buoy used in lobstering, about softball sized, spliced to 5/16 inch yellow polypropylene and with an eye splice at the other end to which we bend the pennant. Polypropylene floats, so the buoy line is less apt to foul on the anchor (or on anything else on the bottom) than nylon or another sinking line.

When weighing anchor one must have a boathook handy to pick up the tripping line, and a certain amount of care must be taken to keep from fouling the line in the propeller - another reason to use a highly visible floating tripping line.

An alternative to a buoyed tripping line is to bring the tripping line up the anchor rode, with little slack, and seize it to the rode at a point where the rode will be on deck when the rode is all the way in ("up and down"). I have never done this, but it seems likely to work. The tripping line could twist around the rode a few turns, but that could be remedied.

One 54 yacht I cruised on for six months buoyed the anchor every set. The anchors were heavy (the storm anchor, a Luke Herreshoff type, weighed 150 pounds), and we brought them on deck. With a tripping line, one man could tally on the anchor rode, another on the tripping line, allowing the anchor to be brought on deck more easily and without banging up the furniture, as the skipper used to say.

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