Saturday 17 February 2024

Anchored in remote Indonesia, Anchor stuck and we are not going anywhere.

It might be one of the most beautiful places we have ever sailed to. We may also never leave. In our latest episode we are stuck fast and we demonstrate how we retrieve our very expensive, sleep easy at night anchor and chain. 

Few things can ruin a relaxing stop at your favourite anchorage like a battle to retrieve an anchor that’s stuck on the bottom and won’t come free. So …. What do you do if your boat anchor gets stuck? 

You can bring the chain up as far as is possible,“Tail it off” on the cleat, taking a turn around the base and holding taut, don’t cleat it off, using the movement of the sea to help, as the bow dips down bring in more chain. This sometimes is enough to release the anchor from the seabed.

If that doesn’t work, with the boat still directly over the anchor, cleat the anchor line at the bow and gently idle forward into the wind.  This will pull on the anchor in the direction opposite from which you originally set it.  Continue moving forward until the anchor breaks free.

Or not.  Chances are that, if the water’s too deep to go swimming, you’re going to end up abandoning your anchor at this point unless you’ve prepared for this eventuality in advance. You can release the anchor chain, but firstly secure the chain or rope to a small buoy or float to mark the position. You can come back later with a diver and retrieve the anchor.

Another option is an anchor-retrieval ring and buoy.  Snap this assembly around the anchor line and drive past the anchor at about 45 degrees. The float and ring, which serve as a pulley, will move down the chain. The ball’s buoyancy combined with the boat’s pull can free a stubborn anchor. Keep driving until you see the anchor ball break the surface astern. 

The option we prefer is an anchor ball with a trip line. We rig a tripping line to our anchor before we drop the hook.  This secondary line is attached at or near the anchor’s crown – frequently to a ring or hole on the anchor specifically for fitting a tripping line.  The other end of the line is tied to a float which, when released with the anchor, will float more or less vertically over the anchor’s position on the bottom.  If the anchor gets stuck, hauling on the tripping line changes the anchor’s angle to the bottom and will usually free it. You will have seen that we use this system on a regular basis, and in many of our YouTube episodes we discuss how and why we use it.

So why didn’t we use it in this anchorage? We actually expected to be anchoring in much deeper waters. Our anchor buoy doesn’t have the length of line on it for the expected depth so we had removed it. In our excitement to find anchor able depth we didn’t put it back on. 

Episode showing us using the trusty anchor boy

Now we are stuck and stuck fast. 

We really don’t have the choice of leaving our anchor and retrieving it later. We used all the other techniques we know of, but we are still stuck fast. 

Rob jumped into the water to see if he was able to manoeuvre the chain physically from the obstruction. Nope ….. our last plan of attack.

World cruising yachts, really can’t be without their anchor, so many carry like we do a dive kit for emergency work below the surface. This as it works out was our only chance of getting the chain and anchor back. We are once again very pleased that we have kitted out Our Dreamtime with all of the equipment required to be self reliant out on the big blue highway. 

Rob was on reserve air by the time he was able to free us from the coral

If you would like to see the moving pictures of how we released the stuck chain and anchor you can watch it here. 👉

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