A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Sunday, 31 January 2016

What a drag

After a week at home recovering from the Barrier debacle, we decided to give it another go as the weather was forecast to turn better. We invited Aunty Lyn along for a week or so cruising around Waiheke and, as the tail end of Cyclone Una trailed down the East Coast of the North Island forecast to produce 25-35 NE winds, we opted for remaining on the the S side of the island until they blew over. We spent the first night in Putiki Bay, one of our favourites on this side. It is a large but shallow bay with good holding on a mud bottom and sheltered from all winds except due SW. It is not particularly popular with other boaties due to the large number of local moorings and the lack of sandy beaches, but we have anchored there dozens of times without incident. A couple of our G Pier friends were also anchored there adjacent to us, and the first night they dined aboard with us. In preparation for the stronger winds the next day I had let out 25 metres of chain, although we were anchored in only 4 metres of water.

The next morning the wind picked up to the forecast NE 25/35 and we danced around as normal but, after an hour or two it seemed that we were further from our friends than we had been the night before. A couple of hours later it was obvious that we had moved so we lifted the anchor to reposition and found a large plastic bag full of mud wrapped around the anchor shank. Aha!!!! a good reason for not holding! We returned to our original anchoring spot and reset but within an hour it was obvious we had shifted again. We tried another spot nearer the beach and in slightly shallower water - same thing! As it was late in the day, we shifted over to the other side of the bay, which seemed to have more shelter and anchored there. I set the iPad to track us and by dusk we had dragged back around 50 metres. However as the rate was so slow and we had a lot of clear space behind us and the wind was supposed to drop, we remained where we were for the night. Sure enough, I checked in the morning and we had dragged a further 50 metres

Fortunately, the forecast was now for light winds for the next 4-5 days so we continued on down to the "bottom end" of Waiheke and into Man O War Bay - another one of our favourites (lots of mussels on the wharf piles for mussel fritters). We dropped anchor and heaved a sigh of relief as I felt it dig in and pull the boat up hard. We spent an incident free night in light winds and departed the next day for a days fishing. On retrieval, we found the anchor well embedded and had to drive over it to break free of the bottom - quite a common occurrence with this ground tackle.

After a moderately successful trip, we returned to Man O War and dropped anchor in roughly the same place as we had left that morning. The anchor would not bed. We tried again - same thing. We shifted a little and tried again - no luck. On the fifth attempt the anchor finally dug in, but with nowhere near the same ferocity as the previous night. About now I remembered that we had had trouble anchoring and holding the bottom at the Barrier as well, and I had put this down to the strong and blustery wind conditions over there. I then came to the realisation that all these problems had surfaced since our tangle with Taurus on New Years Day and our ground tackle, that had never let us down before even in extreme conditions, was now unreliable - and there had to be a reason!

The following day was windless and flat calm, so we pulled up the anchor (which came up far too easily for my liking) and travelled out to deep water so I could examine it. We pulled it onto the deck and, sighting down the shank, we could see that it was no longer straight, but slightly curved. Obviously when Taurus first hooked our anchor chain and pulled us out of the bottom, the sideways pressure on the shank had caused it to bend, and this had been enough for the anchor to no longer set properly. We swapped the anchor for the 35lb Delta that had come with the boat, but rarely (if ever) used - it still had the "made in China" sticker on bottom of the flukes. Curiously, it also came with a galvanised swivel attached to the shank with what appeared to be a non removable clevis pin. I already had a swivel on the chain, but could see no way to get the other one off, so I attached it to the chain with a standard shackle. Although grossly undersized for the boat I figured this anchor would probably be more reliable than the damaged 48.5lb SS plough, particularly since only light winds were forecast for the rest of our stay out.

We stayed out another 3 days using the Delta in a number of different anchorages, although in much lighter winds, without any setting or dragging issues. Ironically, we spent our last night back in Putiki Bay in  the same spot that we had dragged on our second day out. When I came to pull the anchor up I was horrified to see that the clevis holding the swivel to the anchor shank was halfway out, and the anchor was about to fall off. Fortunately I managed to get it  fully home and lashed to the forward cleat without the pin falling out completely.

At first I thought it had sheared off, but when I removed the shackle and inspected it, I found that there was no means of locking the clevis to the swivel. There was a hole through it for a split pin, but the shaft of the clevis only came flush to the outside of the swivel so the hole for the pin was inside it. Furthermore, I am sure that the outside end of the clevis was galvanised over, making me think it had been welded in place and therefore non-removable. It would appear that it was only held in place by the "interference fit" of a cut off section of split pin

Spooky eh!

Well, we're safe and sound back home again and I have been looking around for a replacement anchor. Amazon still sell the one that I got in Kenosha, albeit $50 more than I paid in 2012, but won't ship to NZ (mind you imagine the shipping cost of a 48.5lb anchor to here). The local equivalent SS plough is a tad under $6000, so its out of the question. After researching them out, I have decided to go for the new Vulcan anchor, from the makers of the famous Rocna. According to the website, it is as reliable as the Rocna and was  designed to fit into boats with bowsprits (or "anchor platforms" as they call them) such as Loopy Kiwi. They also have available full size templates on their website so you can make up a cardboard cutout and see if it will fit. This is the one for the 25kg (55lb) anchor that I intend to fit.

Weird looking huh! I'll let you know how it works out.

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