SOUND: Four bells and a jingle.
RON: Greetings, mariners. For the fourth time we open the pouch of the "Mail Buoy" to see what we can do to keep ships on the sea and sailors on top of it, and in it we find an aggregation of questions which stretch from the best method of coldcocking a cook to the worst method of hoodwinking a prospective buyer of a dry-rotted fishpot.
Unfortunately the marine supply store isnt having any bargain sales in blackjacks just now and it doesnt sell the wherewith to get the prospective buyer so drunk he wont know a strake from a herring rack but perhaps we can find other ways of furthering this fight against Old Man Sea. Besides, I didnt think there existed a sailor in Alaska ignorant of the main methods of making a sap or the best places to buy the worst liquor.
Digging down we pull out three queries regarding anchors and as that is the most of any one type of information present, suppose lets read the longest one and see what we have.
"Dear Captain Hubbard. I have a forty-foot trawler. Last summer I was anchored in Metlakatla, British Columbia harbor and got caught in one of these soueasters. I had a ninety pound patent anchor out on sixty feet of chain and a sixty pound patent anchor on my hawser and I dragged so that I had to hold her in place with the engine or go aground on a reef just behind me. Ever since that time I have been wondering about the selection of another weight or type of anchor for next season. T.N."
Well, I suppose, T.N., that a bad anchorage in Metlakatla, British Columbia is better than being out in Chatham but not much. The way a soueaster swoops across that bay is apt to make a man wish hed dived for it an hour or two earlier and gotten himself into Prince Rupert. But of course a man would rather make a night anchorage anywhere than try to run Metlakatla Passage in the black of a howling gale.
About your anchors. Ninety pounds for your heavy on a forty-foot boat should be more than enough, especially when stretched by chain and sixty pounds for the light would appear to be entirely too much for a man to haul up from ten or fifteen fathoms. I see that you have two patent anchors and I wonder a little bit for the light one might better be a kedge. A fifty pound kedge or a seaplane anchor should do all the anchoring you ever want.
You also say that you had them out on two lines and that is probably one of the reasons you dragged. The other reason is that you starved your hooks for length.
Perhaps the best procedure in this matter would have been to have taken the lighter anchor and lashed it about five fathoms up the chain from the heavy anchor, thus putting them both on the same line. This process is known as kelleting and is far more effective than having out two anchors on two lines. With the heavy anchor all the way out, any picking up would have been done on the nearer, lighter anchor, if the kelleting process had been used, and the heavy anchor could then have dug in and stayed there.
Sea, not wind, breaks out anchors. The lifting tendency or a sea sprayed bow will let an anchor work itself along the bottom, particularly a patent anchor. Chain is some check on this but not enough to warrant all the use of chain one sees on small boats. A patent or stockless-type anchor depends for its holding power not on its weight so much as its length of rode. A patent anchor may be very nicely stowed and all that but it has only sixty percent of the holding power of a Herreshoff or what we commonly refer to, if erroneously, as a kedge.
Sixty feet of chain might as well have been twenty for all the holding power it was giving that ninety pound patent anchor. There is one rule of anchoring which very few boatmen have heard about or will follow or believe and that is the seven times rule. If you anchor in four fathoms of water, in order to get all the holding power out of your hook, let out seven times as much line as the water has depth. Four times seven is twenty-eight fathoms or a hundred and twelve feet of line. T.N. had out sixty feet or only half enough to permit a kedge to hold and only about a third enough to hold a patent anchor. The patent anchor requires some ten times the line as there is depth. Chances are if T.N. had let out a hundred and fifty feet of line in his four fathoms of water he would have swung to his ninety pound patent very nicely.
The patent anchor has its advantages and disadvantages. On deck it is easy to have around. On the bottom it requires more line and weight than any other type. It has been stated that a patent holds better in rock than a standard Herreshoff or kedge but this is open to question for I have never seen anything which would hold decently on a rocky bottom and, if it did hold, could easily be gotten up again.
Down the centuries there have only been a few types of anchors invented which were any good and every type seems to have some disadvantage peculiar to itself. A kedge will get the line wrapped around its upright arm and so let itself be pulled out. A folding anchor will sometimes decide to fold up when put out to work. The folding stock kedge as invented by Herreshoff and the stockless patent anchor are fairly modern improvements. However, in recent years, another type of anchor has come into being.
Seaplanes need anchors and no plane is going to carry any more weight than is wholly necessary. Accordingly, engineers worked out a new type of anchor, the seaplane. This anchor will hold as much as a patent anchor several times its weight and has the advantage of being easy to hoist and easy to stow.
The sea is very slow to change and the sailor, because his life depends upon a conservative outlook upon new invention, is very slowly accepting this new anchor, but he is accepting it.
When I first saw one and had a chance to use it I did so with great caution. I let it out in a calm harbor and uneasily inspected it every few hours during the night. By daybreak it was still holding. But that was no real test. Later on I had occasion to anchor down in Cardenas Bay where the tide zips through at a considerable pace from Telegraph Passage. The bank there being very wide and long with much room to swing, I let the anchor out. I was much too tired that night to inspect it and by next morning I found, to my relief, that I had not shifted more than ten feet all night though a fast tidal stream had been running under the keel both ways, fast enough to shake the anchor line and make the ship vibrate considerably. Once again the seaplane anchor had held. Of course I had given it much line and there had been no great amount of swell. I like it and use it mainly because it is easy to bring up and easy to stow.
But in using one of these anchors it is well to remember to use lots of line. That is a good rule with any anchor, of course, but particularly with the lighter seaplane. By putting a couple fathom of chain to it and by letting it have lots of rope, I think the right sized seaplane anchor for the boat will hold in almost any condition. Of course one should have a heavy anchor as well for unusual conditions.
An ideal anchor combination would be a light anchor, a kedge anchor of medium weight for the boat and a very heavy patent anchor for use on rock bottom in bad weather. If of the right size for the boat, these anchors will take up any stress to which a vessel is subject in an anchorage. If seven times the depth is put out in rope, or fifteen times the depth in unusually bad waves, any one of these should hold in good ground and the patent in indifferent ground.
It is a beautiful feeling to be able to go to sleep, depending completely on the anchor to hold come what may. And its a terrible thing to drift reefward, dragging all the hooks that are aboard. Lots of line and good, reliable anchors are worth ten times their cost in security.
This anchor combination is good because, in extreme conditions, one can tip the line with the light anchor then, twenty feet up from it, fix the kedge and then twenty feet nearer the boat than that and on the same line, place the heavy patent. Allow from seven to fifteen times the water depth from the bow down to the patent. There isnt anything short of a tidal wave which can shift this combination of double kelleting if they are of the right weight for the boat.
ANNOUNCER: Thank you Captain Hubbard.