Sunday, September 10, 2006

Danforth Anchor Woes

It seems like we’ve been in Melbourne forever. Everything is in order, and we plan to leave tomorrow. Due to big swells from the hurricane out near Bermuda, and huge afternoon thunderstorms, we’ll stay in the ICW (intercoastal waterway) rather than get caught in bad weather on the 50 mile run to Ponce Inlet near Daytona.
The dentist ground down a filling in the molar which was causing the pain. The filling was being impacted by the upper molars during normal chewing, making is extra sensitive. It feels much better now.
Last Wednesday a huge storm hit us from the northwest, the most vulnerable direction in our current anchorage. Our main anchor, a 45 pound Danforth, bent the shank, causing it to dislodge from the bottom, and start dragging towards the 520 causeway. I cranked up the engine, and used full power to drive away from the cement seawall only 20 feet away. The wind was probably blowing 60mph and the rain was pelting my face such that vision was nil. Putting on a pair of swim goggles partly solved that problem. I veered away from another sailboat dragging it’s anchor straight for us. The bimini top ripped at 2 seams, and tore away over my head. Kathy yelled up to ask if she could do anything, and I told her to stay below. The rain was intense, possibly mixed with hail. I didn’t understand how the boat was driving forward with the anchor down, but was glad we were making forward progress. Having the anchor line wrap around the prop was a big concern, but I couldn’t do anything about it. The lightning was flashing everywhere, but for once I wasn’t concerned about it since I couldn’t do anything about that either. (Supposedly sailboats have a “cone of protection” from lightning due to the mast and wire rigging). A quick glance to the rear showed the dinghy with the outboard motor attached doing cartwheels in the air at the end of it’s painter like a little kite. We were at full engine revs with the turbo kicked in just to make slow headway. I was keeping a close eye on the engine temp which climbed steadily, finally going past the usual 180 degree temp, and on up to near redline. We were almost to the ICW channel in 15 feet of water, so I shut down the engine, ran forward and dropped the 35 pound Bruce anchor, paid out 100 feet of rode, and snubbed it. We jerked to a stop. I heaved a sigh of relief and went below. I was cold for the first time during our voyage. (Writing this now gives me chills again).
It continued raining and blowing for another half-hour. When it was over, I put on the mask and snorkel to see where that pesky anchor line was. It was wrapped around the keel, but was easy to pull off with Kathy paying out the slack, even with no underwater visibility. I could then pull the Danforth in by hand, and as it came up we expected to see the anchor line fouled around the wrong end of the anchor, but it wasn’t. Instead, the shank was bent close to 45 degrees, which prevented the flukes from digging into the bottom.
By now it was almost dark, so I grabbed a spotlight and went in search of the cooler (with 2 lifejackets inside), and the 2 oars which had been in the dinghy. They were actually easy to spot up in the rocks on shore.
We set the gps anchor alarm, ate dinner and went to bed. The next morning I changed out the engine sea water impeller which had separated from the hub. We probably sucked up a bag in the storm, shutting off the coolant water to the heat exchanger. The engine runs fine now. We bought a 45 pound Delta (a different type of anchor called a plow) and gave the bent Danforth anchor away. We pulled out the sewing machine and repaired the bimini and made it stronger than before.
Lucky for us the shuttle launch was cancelled (the main reason we’ve been hanging out here), so Kathy and I got to watch the launch from the space center yesterday. It was fantastic. Rachel elected to spend the night at her friend Christina’s for a 6 girl birthday sleepover.
In the future, if storms are expected, or we leave the boat, we’ll set both anchors. I had become complacent due to weathering Tropical Storm Ernesto so easily. This afternoon cumulonimbus was twice as strong as Ernesto.


Blogger Laura said...

Once again, Stardust kept you safe. Kathy and Rachel must be the most bravest women on all the waters! Stay safe and look out for Florence! (geez....who's next?)

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Dennis said...

The "cone of protection" implies that lightning will strike the mast or rigging instead of a person on deck. No mast-hugging in a storm! Once on-board the discharge will find the least-resistant path to ground potential, likely (no promises!)through the keel.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds almost as exciting as wondering what your current student is going to do next!
Expected to see you at Seminole, had a great time.
Robert (Comeau)

10:45 AM  

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