Monday, December 21, 2009

Multidimensional Vortices

My parents and another couple were close reaching in the trade winds when suddenly their yacht was seized by a vortex from another dimension, spinning the boat and holding it in its grip!

In fact, unbeknownst to the crew the anchor had dropped off the roller, run out all its rode, and grabbed a coral head two hundred feet down. But to my mother, at the helm, the sensation was so unnerving and mysterious her first thought was that the Bermuda Triangle was at work.

Even after they figured out what had happened, it was a bit of a situation, with 25 knots of wind, a sea running, and the boat jibing and tacking out of control. Of course they dropped the sails but the anchor was stuck, and they had to cut the rode, fast.

Someone grabbed a galley carving knife and stumbled to the foredeck, but the charter company's maintenance didn't extend to knife sharpening. It was a frightening several minutes before they finally sawed through the hard nylon anchor rode and continued on their way to Tortola.

Even in the absence of multidimensional vortices, one might have to cut a run-out anchor rode in a hurry. The correct way to secure the bitter end of an anchor rode is shown in this photo.  The blue 5/16 inch line is secured to a padeye mounted high in the chain locker, using a bowline. The other end of the blue line is tied to an eye splice in the bitter end of the rode, again with a bowline. (It looks like I put a turn around the eye, which might reduce chafe.) Importantly, the blue line is long enough to extend well clear of the chain pipe, as shown. Thus the bitter end is well secured but if one has to cut the rode there is only the 5/16 inch line to slash.

I am no expert on all-chain anchor rodes, but I assume the above technique is particularly important with all chain.

These bowlines will be inspected rarely, so each is tied with a long tale and the tale is seized back to the bowline, using sail twine pushed through the blue line with a needle and sail palm. You can just see the seizing in this photo.

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