Posts Tagged With: anchoring a sailboat

Two Hundred Feet of Chain

Tomahawk will not end up on the beach again!

Jamie very generously lent us a length of super heavy chain from his 46-footer. He won’t be using it while he’s away, so we went out in the freezing cold and dark to hook it up to our own chain. Now the boat is weighed down by all that chain, plus it won’t chafe through the way the rope did. That means we can leave it out in English Bay without having to worry.

Meanwhile, the weather isn’t as wet as it was this time last year. That’s a good thing.

On the downside, we couldn’t get the engine going when Jamie and I were out, so he had to give us a tow with his dinghy. Due to the extreme cold and the fact that Jamie had time constraints, we decided to leave Tomahawk rafted up to his boat overnight. Jason went out in the morning and dropped the anchor in an appropriate location, once again with the help of our guardian angel Jamie. The engine wouldn’t start then either. Internet research has revealed that gas doesn’t vaporize well in the cold, so that could be the issue (also the fact that we haven’t started it up in a little while). Hopefully it will work fine once the weather warms up a bit more.

Our own dinghy appears to have a small leak, so it is currently sitting on the boat. Good thing we got those kayaks! Even without a vehicle, we can carry them down to the water from here and paddle across. We don’t have spray skirts, though, so we tend to get a bit damp. We haven’t actually gone all the way across the bay with them, but we did take them out for a spin on Jason’s birthday last month.

Once spring hits, which is late February here, I’m sure the kayaks will get a lot more use, as will the boat. We are thinking of taking proper sailing or even cruising lessons, if we can save up the cash.


Giant Anchor

We thought the chain was a better idea than getting an anchor this size!


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Anchoring Fee: $400 Per Week

On the way home from work, I overheard two men chatting on their way to a hockey game. Whenever the home team plays at the stadium here, the Skytrain fills with blue and white jerseys, along with the odd red, yellow, and black one from the Canucks’ past.

The men’s conversation had little to do with hockey. One man said to the other, “All the boats are cleared out of the harbour now, because they charge four hundred dollars for a week of anchoring. That’s sixty dollars a night!” As we passed the “harbour” in question (actually False Creek), he pointed out the distinct absence of anchored crafts.

Although Tomahawk is still out in the Pirate Bay, this news alarmed me. At the same time, I knew I had seen at least two boats, one sail and one power, anchored this morning. So I was mostly confused. Maybe they’re creating a new fee that hasn’t been implemented yet, or just came into effect today, I thought. After all, they are moving toward disallowing anchoring in Burrard Inlet, which sucks because that’s where we planned to anchor if I get into Simon Fraser University for my master’s degree in social anthropology starting next year.

Since getting a boat, I have learned that a lot of people consider anchored vessels “eyesores,” although those same people don’t seem too concerned about the huge tankers that sit out in English Bay for all to enjoy. See, those are good for the economy, but sailboats are more self-sufficient. Except that sailors, including liveaboards, contribute to the economy by buying food and gas and parts and other stuff, just like anybody else. I don’t know.

Then there are the many ugly buildings, parked cars, and trash bins that litter the city, among other potential “eyesores.” Don’t get me wrong; Vancouver is a beautiful city with lots of green spaces and awesome architecture. My point is that I don’t understand how small boats are seen as problematic and obstructing the view, while the municipal government is considering putting in 70-storey buildings in the West End. Go figure.

As it turns out, the city website still says that anchoring permits in False Creek are free. So either the winds of change are blowing, or the dude on the Skytrain has no clue what he’s talking about. My money is on the latter.

False Creek

False Creek is full of all kinds of boats! And the stadium in the background is full of hockey fans!

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Dropping Anchor

For the past few days, my sailing obsession has shifted from toilets to dropping anchor. This skill will be vital if we ever want to move the boat from its current location – which we have to do by October 30th anyway.

Luckily, the internet knows everything. However, reading about it is never the same as doing it. I could read about building a spacecraft, but that doesn’t mean I can then go out and make one.

Dropping Anchor

Then again, anchoring doesn’t seem overly complicated. From what I understand, the most important things to know are what kind of bottom you are anchoring in (e.g. soft mud, grass, rock) and how much swing radius you need. Swing radius refers to a circle around where your anchor is dropped, where your boat could shift to if the wind or current changes. As you let out more rode, your radius increases.

If you’re the only one in the anchorage, you don’t need to worry too much, but if there are other boats around, you have to keep an eye out for their swing radius and make sure they don’t overlap too much.

Not all boats move the same way, either. Powerboats, monohull sailboats, and multihulls like catamarans and trimarans behave differently in the wind and current. So it’s best to anchor among boats that are like yours. I guess that means we need to stick with smaller monohulls.

So you pick your anchoring spot, start lowering your anchor off the bow (not all at once or the rope will tangle), and slowly back up your boat. You should point into the wind or current, whichever is stronger, and let your craft drift backwards. If necessary, a little engine power can help set the anchor properly.

In softer bottoms, you also need to give it some time to settle properly.

Of course, there are a million variations on this and so much depends on the boat and the anchorage, as well as the anchor’s weight and other properties. In some cases, you might even tie the stern (back) of the boat to a tree on land, to keep it from swinging around too much.

Or, in some areas, you can forget the anchor and simply hook up to a mooring buoy, as shown in this Sailing Magazine video.

We’ll have to check out the nautical charts on the boat to start learning about local bottom features around here.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends.

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