Anchoring, Book Seeding, and Near Disaster.

I’m not gonna lie or try to candy coat this last weekend. It was part wonderfully successful and part near disaster. I think it’s important though, in this case to discuss and focus on the near disaster portion of our trip. I’m not really going to make excuses for the incidents either so my only hope is to explain what went on while we were out giving books away to the kids at all of the amazing events that were occurring over the weekend in San Francisco.

Anchoring
Over the weekend we anchored in Aquatic Park with two other very small boats. We arrived very early in the morning and we tied ourselves together and dropped and set our Bruce anchor. We used at least 75 feet of solid heavy chain which we measured for the first 70 feet by taking the chain from the bow of the boat to the stern on a 35 foot boat. As a precaution and because I was nervous about the wind and current that day I put out quite a bit more chain after that (nearly 25 feet). We had decided on at least 75 foot length because the depth of the water at Aquatic Park is only 15 feet at mean low (someone correct me if I’m wrong). That would mean we had at least a 5 to 1 ratio at high tide and should have been enough. As a safety precaution, one of the smaller boats dropped one of their smaller anchors, although admittedly, this probably wouldn’t have saved us too much, instead intended to slow down any problems.

Everything seemed fine and we made breakfast and hung out for a couple of hours with no problems. We’ve dropped anchor at Aquatic Park twice before without any incident. Once, we stayed on a smaller boat and once we stayed on two bigger boats so we really didn’t expect much to happen this day. In fact, we had a discussion about how many boats showed up at Aquatic Park throughout the day and how little chain they were putting out. Some boats didn’t even bother to set their anchors! I watched as more than one boat simply dropped an anchor straight down, stopped at the first sign of slack, and then left their boats immediately without checking anything. Because of all of this, I was sure we had more than enough down to hold us firm and be safe. Apparently, I might have been wrong.

Book Seeding
So, this is what we came out to do. We had about 150 children’s books to give away throughout all the day’s festivities in San Francisco. In case you don’t know, there were a very large number of events going on and we wanted to get books into the hands of kids as much as we could. In fact, one of the things we did while we made breakfast and made sure our anchors were holding was to label our books. When this was all done, we had an amazing day giving out books to kids at the America’s Cup event and the Hardly Strictly Music Festival. At least this part of the trip was a huge success! Our joy was short lived…

The Near Disaster
When we were walking over the hill from the America’s Cup racing to the park we realized to our horror that we weren’t at all in the same place as we left! Our boat was much further than where we had left it and we ran as fast as we could to get back to our boats to see what was happening. Of course, we were much too late to do anything about it except hear about it from the other boats who had witnessed the incident and the efforts by the National Park Service to correct it. We could only go by what they said to us (much of which I can’t print, and rightly so) but we heard some pretty horrifying stories.

It seems like everything was said about the incident. We were told the boat was on one side of the park near Balclutha, to being told we were drifting to the other side towards the sea wall, to being told our anchor was dragging, to being told someone had knocked us loose, to being told we put out too little chain, and other people having the opinion that we put out too much chain and didn’t drag but swung wide!

What has been most interesting is the differing number of opinions. So many have been in favor of one or something completely opposite. In fact, there were so many that I was originally going to write a post about all of the different opinions about the speculated scenarios and what might and might not have happened. But if there is one thing I’ve learned while sailing it’s that everyone has an opinion and they’re entitled to them so I’ll just listen and learn from them all. I’m all ears. Really though, I think the most important thing is this…

Apologies and gratitude
No matter what happened, we’d like to say a big thank you to NPS and of course apologize to all the other boats in the marina who would be full in their rights to call us any number of names and even apologize to some of them who very rightly have called us names for giving them a scare. In fact, I can’t approve some of the comments on this blog for the language used (we flew a Story Sailboat flag so everyone knew who the trouble was coming from). There were other boaters who helped us in a couple of different ways to sort out what happened so we can avoid any mistakes later and I’d like to thank you as well. There have also been people who, when we told them story, related the time they had an anchor drag. While that makes us feel better, it still can’t make up for the scare we must have given the fine sailing community. We learned a lot on this trip and don’t plan on making these mistakes again. Sailing is a good way to stay humble.

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