Damage From Anchoring In Rocks

We left on Friday, late in the morning because Gary helped a friend bring his boat back from the boat yard.  A little fog as we headed out.  At one point the sky and water had almost the same greenish blue glow.  It gives an eerie feeling of sensory deprivation, so I was glad it didn’t last long and we broke through the fog and into the sunshine.  We made it out to Santa Cruz Island and then went on to Santa Rosa.  The channel between the islands was rough, and I went down below and laid down.  It takes us six hours to get to Santa Rosa and because we left so late in the day we decided to anchor for the night.  We had to anchor really close in to the island to get out of the waves.  We generally only put the front anchor out, but it was rough and we put out a back anchor and put down the flopper stoppers as well.  We had a relatively calm night.

Four a.m. Saturday morning we went out to find the white sea bass.  We stopped and anchored for awhile.  Gary and I were able to jig squid.  We didn’t get any hits and decided to try elsewhere.  After we left we heard radio reports of people getting lots of white sea bass.  We still weren’t having any luck and decided to go to a place where last year we had some heavy action with ling cod.

The ling cod area is in the gap between Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz.  We put down the anchor and tried for a short time, but again the water was rough.

When we pull in the anchor, Gary runs the anchor motor and the boat, and I go down below and keep the chain from piling up in one spot.  If we don’t keep the chain from piling up, the motor jams.

As Gary brings up the chain, sometimes the chain motor is really laboring to bring the boat toward the chain, so Gary will move the boat toward the chain.  Sometimes he has to maneuver the boat around and pull from other directions to get the anchor to come off the bottom.

So I’m down below the deck moving the chain.  Gary stops bringing the chain up, and I think he’s getting ready to move the boat forward.  Suddenly there’s big bam followed by the sound of splintering wood.  I can see the deck above me flexing.  The switching mechanism for the motor rips off of it’s mount on the ceiling, and the chain starts going out at a free fall rate.  I get out of the chain locker as quickly as possible and run to the front of the boat.  The anchor pulpit has been ripped off, the stainless steel railing has been bent.  The chain motor is hanging over the front, and the chain is still free falling.

Broken anchor pulpit.  Anchor motor hanging.  Bent stainless railing.

Broken anchor pulpit. Anchor motor hanging. Bent stainless railing.

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Gary says:  “The problem was that as the anchor was coming up it just stopped, getting stuck on a rock, at the same time I was at the bottom of the big swell in rough windy conditions, as soon as I started up on the swell it broke the pulpit right off.  Couldn’t believe it happened so fast.  Nothing we could do.”

First thing I assess the damage on the front outside.  Then I go back inside and check to make sure that we didn’t crack the fiberglass, and check for leaking.  Heart racing, dry mouth, feeling the adrenaline rush.

Situation:  Anchor stuck on bottom.  No way to lift anchor.   We’ve lifted the anchor before without the motor, and it’s difficult with a roller.  Our roller is hanging off over the edge and we would chew the boat up trying to lift the anchor not to mention the fact that it’s also stuck in the rocks.  Gary calls vessel assist.  Vessel assist says they will be at least four hours in getting out.  It’s already 2:00pm and the water is rough.  I look at the situation and decide that with the cost of vessel assist, the time line and the sea conditions we would be better to just drop the chain.  Typically the wind conditions get worse as evening approaches.  The thought of waiting four hours for vessel assist to come out while we are tossed around in rougher and rougher water just didn’t appeal to me.  I also didn’t think that they would be able to get the anchor up anyway.  If we waited for vessel assist the soonest we would be back at our dock would be 1:00 am.

We use ropes to secure the roller and the anchor pulpit.  Then we secured the chain as it came out of the deck to the anchor post.  I went back below deck and unscrewed the chain from the post, and then we released the rope above and left the chain go.  Unfortunately we were in about 180 feet of water, so there’s no chance of getting a diver to go down and get the anchor and chain.

We made it back to the house about 8:00 pm.  Still light outside. What a weekend.  No fish, no anchor, no chain, but we’re back and safe.

After our last venture on Memorial Day weekend where we watched a boat sink.  My thoughts return to getting a ditch bag together.  When you hear the cracking of wood and start checking to make sure your boat isn’t leaking, you realize there’s a lot of things that would be nice to have if your boat sank.  I’m definitely going to start on the ditch bag.

Life is good.  It’s a joysealife.