“Anchor Drag Alert”. Two-second pause. “Anchor Drag Alert”.
These are the words that our two anchor watch applications shout out repeatedly, with increasing volume and urgency if our anchor (lovingly known as “Bertha”) drags, until we respond to the app acknowledging we have heard a warning that we are moving, rather than holding our position. These three words are a horrible yet informative sound and advise us that the anchor we have set is not holding within the parameters we have set. These three words tell you there is potential for danger.
To be fair, we back ourselves to be pretty well at setting Waiata into a safe holding with Bertha, ideally somewhere with a nice sandy bottom, and between five and ten metres of depth. But the blasted wind which is the current and ever-present challenge, between just enough and too much, had other ideas. The white caps are being whipped up into a frenzy, some becoming eddies carrying airborne seawater and swirling across the water like mini-tornadoes, racing across the bay to smash their wateriness into the craggy mountains behind us
We are in Poulithra Bay in the Peloponnese. This morning the dreaded “Anchor Drag Alert” has been shouting at us. Repeatedly! Note that we usually have visibility to the bottom in the place in which we are anchoring but, in some locations and in heavy clouds we simply can’t see what the situation is below our hulls so have to hope we have material that will allow Bertha to grip and hold us, rather than stones, or weed that will just tumble off her.
Today the current weather is of such a concern, that Bertha having good hold is very important, even a huge 78-metre tanker has just come into our bay and drooped his anchor on our starboard side to take refuge. This is serious stuff!
And so, when we heard “Anchor Drag Alert” this morning, we knew that it was inevitable that we would have to lift the anchor and try to reset her; and wearingly, we have had three unsuccessful attempts at resetting her.
The first attempt resulted in the continued bellowing of “Anchor Drag Alert” and due to the sheer force of the wind, even with both engines going, we had some difficulty holding into the wind with the amount of windage on our boat. We laid out a five to one scope. The anchor simply never grabbed. We lose. Try again.
For our second attempt, we motored in a large circle to make more headway into our desired spot before washing this off to drop the anchor again. 30 metres out in a depth 8 metres before the bridle. This time again we were pretty much immediately told ‘Anchor Drag Alert’ – and pulled up Bertha to find her full of Poseidon Grass – on no occasion does grass provide a good holding, and even if it did, it’s never a good idea as the foliage provides a nursery for aquatic life. We lose again. Try again.
Attempt three – 30 metres of chain out and no digging in from Bertha. Waiata went side-on to the wind which is a very clear and present indication that we have not achieved any anchor hold, and to further complicate matters, our bridle somehow became unclasped – yawn – and so up she came again. Loser loser!
Attempt four saw the Captain choose another location a further 500 metres or so, along the beach. It appears to be more exposed than where we were but the hills likely are funnelling the wind down into the bay in any case. And so, on attempt number four, it appears we may have achieved holding and Bertha has a bite of the bay beneath us. We are hopefully in sand. And Bertha has settled in until we lift her tomorrow morning to get out of here. The wind has just gusted 46 knots and it’s due to die down around 4.00 pm if the weather reports are accurate (which is always questionable). And our anchor alarm hasn’t shouted ‘Anchor Drag Alert” yet again. Fingers crossed. Today, at last, we may have won!
“As the compass turns
And the glass it falls
When the storm clouds roll
And the gulls they call
Anchor me, anchor me, anchor me
In the middle of your deep blue sea, anchor me