Tuesday, 1 September 2015

What a Drag

Re-anchoring, post drag.

I read somewhere that there are 2 kinds of cruisers.  Those who have dragged and those who are going to drag.  Any guesses which group we fit into?  Scroll down to find out, or read through the whole post. 

As I mentioned in our CroatianRetrospective Light, Cavtat was a town that we thoroughly enjoyed.  We met some fellow Canadians there (hello Quickbeam!) who not only were generous with their time but also with some hard won information about cruising in the Med.  They’ve been at it for 8 years and so have loads of great inside info.  Cavtat was also close enough to Dubrovnik to go for a day trip – a win all around given the cost of marinas in Dubrovnik and the lack of anchorages near the city. 

Fortunately, the anchorage at Cavtat was also picturesque and quiet enough that we chose to spend some of our time just relaxing at anchor.  It was while we were hanging around doing not much at all that we heard the noise – a faint beep, beep, beep.  It was rather insistent, but not coming from our boat so we ignored it.  

A little while later we looked out at the anchorage and Janet said simply; “is that boat getting closer?”  A moments glance and we both knew the answer.  “That boat” was a large (by our standards) catamaran and it was heading straight for us.

You could almost see us connecting the dots, the beeping was an anchor alarm.  There was no one on the other boat.  If we didn’t do anything, it would hit us.  





Janet raced to grab a boat hook and fenders to try to fend off the other boat while I lowered our dinghy from the davits.  We didn’t have time to start our engines or try to move out of its path and at the last possible moment I was able to jam the dinghy between Maple and the crewless catamaran fending it off.  

With a little time successfully bought, I climbed aboard, leaving our dinghy tied to Maple and grabbed a mooring line thinking I could raft the heavy boat up to us until its owner returned but it was dragging by too quickly.  I jumped into the water to take the line to Janet so she could tie it off, but it was not to be.  Back to the dragging cat I went where I climbed out and made my way, dripping, to the helm station.

Fortunately, the engines did not require a key and I was able to start them both, tuning an anchorage missile into a reasonably controllable sea going vessel once more.  While I was doing this, another cruiser had come by in their dinghy to lend a hand and they started to raise the anchor.  We were making our way back into the anchorage to try to re-set the anchor when the owners of the vessel came racing out to us.

The rest of the event was a tad less dramatic, with 4 of us on board we reset the anchor and amid the thanks from our fellow travellers I learned that this had happened to them once before.  In spite of it all, they seemed rather non-plussed by the events and the knowledge that without intervention, their home would have ended up on the rocks. 

Turns out that they were in the habit of only setting a scope of 3:1, meaning they had let out 3 times as much chain as the depth of the water.  We had always been taught to work with 5:1 minimum which is what we had out, as did the other cruiser who had come to the rescue.  What’s more, the anchorage was known to have a weedy bottom suggesting a greater degree of caution when anchoring. 

Overall, I’m pretty proud of how Janet and I acted when we needed to.  When this all went down we’d been cruising for grand total of 1 month and yet we didn’t react like amateurs (at least I don’t think we did).  That said, there are some lesson to be learned here both from what we did right and what we did wrong:
  • Don’t ignore strange noises, even if they don’t come from your boat.
  • Anchor cautiously – nobody ever regretted being too conservative with their scope or size of ground tackle.  When you are placing the fate of your home on your anchor you need to be able to trust it
  • Act quickly, whether you do the right thing or the wrong thing, just do something.  Catastrophe won’t wait for you to make up your mind about the right course of actio
And oh yeah - we're the second kind of cruiser still (touch wood) but we're also cautious so here's hoping we can disprove the adage.


  1. Well done! I'm the boater who has dragged, we got off lucky in that no damage was done. What incredible sailing lessons you are learning, enjoying every post!

  2. Hi Maple crew,
    I am Janet's mother's cousin who lives in Newfoundland and has just spent the evening reading your blogs. You are all very courageous in following your dream and living intentionally. It is a reminder to us all that we can be more intentional in our lives regardless of where that life is. I have to admit that the Blood Sweat and Tears blog hit home as I am sure it did with the two grandmothers. I pray God's blessing on you all as you continue your adventures. And I will continue to follow your story as it unfolds. With every good wish, Susan Adams (I am actually Susan Janet Adams named for the same Janet as you - we all loved her and today is the anniversary of her death)

    1. Wonderful to hear from you, Susan! My mom speaks of you often and always enjoys when she connects with you. Thank you for checking out our blog! We have enjoyed being able to share a bit of our experiences with our friends and family. - Janet