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Anchored to Reality—Well, Sort Of!

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Being the author of a 365 page technical manual on anchoring—is a drag. Literally. Since I’ve released Creative Anchoring I’ve been dragging all over Southeast Asia. It’s as if my world is suddenly Teflon-coated and my anchors have skates or rollers. Deploying my anchors barely affects my hull speed at all. Even worse, my wife Carolyn is attempting to sell my latest book to all the people we drag/smash into—and I can’t convince her such ‘unique sales opportunities’ aren’t PC.

“Not now, dear,” I hiss as my transom lifts off their bowrail and then crushes down on their anchor roller, “not now!”

“But why not,” she shouts back happily, “We don’t meet that many new cruisers—and you can sign a copy for them on-the-spot. What’s not-to-like, Fatty?”

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These ‘anchor cruises’ are long and frequent enough to raise certain technical questions. For instance, if I drag anchor from Malaysia through Singapore into Indonesia—do I need to turn off my anchoring light and turn on my running lights as I drift across the Malacca Straits?

See how complex being me (an international expert on many things I know nothing about) can be?

What about Customs clearance? If you never take your hook up—do you still need to clear in and out? I dunno. I guess it is a legal gray area, right?

In my anchoring book, of course, I discuss the etiquette of being dragged into. Obviously, many of the people I’ve banged into lately haven’t read that chapter. “No using the F-word,” I advise, “and physical threats don’t help either!”

Actually, I’m amazed how petty people are—instead of sensibly using my dragging into them as an opportunity for them to practice human kindness and marine sensitivity, many of them stupidly fixate on the financial. “You just did $10,000 of damage to my vessel,” one shouted at me in outrage.

Thus, I was forced to counter with, “Don’t be such a bean counter, dude!”

Even worse, this jerk refused to see the wisdom of my Buddha-blessed words!

… Besides, what’s so great about a shiny Awlgrip finish anyway? I don’t think of the ‘kisses’ my vessel leaves on the other vessel’s topsides as scrapes or gouges so much as ‘gelcoat badges of anchorage honor’.

Many live-aboard vessels are so ‘hard aground on their coffee grounds’ they should thank me for the impromptu, unscheduled harbor cruise I give them—free, and totally without charge.

Of course, I have to sleep sometimes—which isn’t easy with all my anchor alarms wailing.

Seriously, I’m not sure that an aluminum Fortress anchor is the best at holding—but once clear of the bottom, that sucker tows extremely well.

…numerous times my fellow yachtsmen have confused that Fortress with a very short water skier.

Once, when I was rounding up into Fatu Hiva from the Galapagos, I ruefully realized that I’d only taken two of the three anchors up—and had towed the Fortress astern for 3,200 nautical miles.

“Damn, I thought we were steering straighter than normal! So that’s what was following us.” I said, slapping my forehead.

Lots of sailors wonder why I named my new book—both the ‘dead tree’ version and the Kindle version—CREATIVE ANCHORING. The answer is simple: if you’ve mastered the art of one anchor, it is time to confuse yourself with multi-hooks.

Best-of-all is my section on tandem anchoring.

What, exactly, is tandem anchoring?

Here’s the technical explanation: it is the ability to deploy two anchors in such a manner that neither holds.

This is vastly different than, say, using an anchor off the bow and an anchor off the transom to hold your vessel at a specific angle to the swell.

Yes, I touch on the subject of anchor kellets—just on the off-chance you can’t manage to entangle your main rode in your prop, well, this gives you a second chance.

Ditto, deploying flopper-stoppers—although at my age this subject is getting a tad embarrassing. (Yes, I carry those little blue pills in both the ship’s medicine chest and the liferaft ditch bag as well.)

Where to geo-anchor is another topic that is discussed. If you’re young, anchor nearest to the rum shop, obviously. But we golden oldies often favor the dinghy dock closest to the Depends, prune juice, and Viagra.

My book talks a lot about SCOPE but nearly any mouthwash will do, really.

Sure, personal hygiene plays a part. I recently dragged down on a female single-hander in the Caribbean, and she immediately asked, “Are you hitting on me?”

“Sure ting, sistah!” I replied in my best West Indian accent.

Actually, my boat is becoming famous for dragging. Each time I enter a harbor, there is a flurry of activity: fenders being deployed, pepper spray tested, boat hooks sharpened, insurance companies contacted, and various local hit men put on stand-by.

Yes, I mention the aggressive use of sharpened boat hooks in Creative Anchoring—otherwise, I’d have had to call it STAID ANCHORING, am I right?

…ditto, how to bend a stantion, crush a self-steering gear, and/or poke out a stern light.

Which leads us to the etiquette of ‘exchanging insurance info’ after my 15-ton vessel has reduced an innocent BendyToe to dust.

Since I have no insurance, it seems a tad insensitive to reveal said fact in too aggressive a manner. Why disillusion my victim? In addition, many of these ‘too noisy’ folks you drag down upon want personal specifics—like name, rank, and serial number.

I’m loath to disappoint them. And, of course, I realize that many yachtie folks enjoy paying bills—and that ‘leaving a clean wake’ is important to them. (This ‘integrity concept’ is foreign to me—but I’m convinced it exists or, at least, used to exist pre-WWII).

In any event, I always give the name of the current president of the Seven Seas Cruising Association during these legal tussles. It just seems kinder-and-gentler to all concerned.

Once my wife caught me at this, and complimented me by saying, “It’s not all about Fatty with Fatty—he is perfectly willing to share the blame!”


Preparing the vessel is another topic seldom touched upon: I cover the basics of ‘magnetic sign’ and/or ‘Velcro attachment’for both name and hailing port on the transom, how to forge ship’s papers, and all the other basics of international sea-gypsy voyaging on a shoe-string.

I mean, I have a vessel that circumnavigates with eight sails—surely, an equal number of ‘pre-forged’ international yacht registrations is a sensible precaution against fickle anchor failure, right?

Depth is another subject I covered. Basically, the deeper the water, the better. Water is heavy. The more water there is on top of the anchor pressing it down, the better. Tonnage matters, yes siree! Plus, of course, I pile as much chain on top of my anchor as possible—an additional factor that serves to pound it into the bottom even deeper.

Whew! My book contains a treasure trove of ‘by hook or crook’ anchoring tricks!

I take an in-depth look at such related gear as swivels and shackles as well—for example, I swivel my head away from the vessel I’m dragging down on whenever possible, and I’m not shackled to any one excuse.

…one day I claim Jesus made me drag, the following day I blame it on Mohammad, Buddha, or even L. Ron Hubbard.

Of course, there are a lot of feminist issues that deal with anchoring. For instance, most modern women refuse to haul up an anchor rode hand-over-hand. Thus, in order to get such a prissy female sailor to crew, you have to lure her aboard with a mechanical device in order to WIN the LASS, which the clever sailors of yore quickly shortened to windlass. (Ah, don’t you just love traditional nautical terminology?).

‘Diving the anchor’ becomes more difficult with age. For those sailors who want to engage in this fast-disappearing nautical practice, I recommend an additional loop of chain around the neck and/or pelvis before stepping over the bow rail with the anchor in your arms.

Which is best, the foredeck foot switch or the controller-on-a-cord?

It’s a toss up, really.

Foot switches rule if you want to ‘accidently’ trigger the windlass when your spouse’s fingers are entangled in the chain gypsy. But ‘remotes on a cord’ offer their own dramatics once the cord is wrapped under the chain in the gypsy—oh, how sparks fly!

Of course, only an amateur doesn’t have the bitter end of the chain attached. Forgetting this can be highly embarrassing—as the chain end abruptly disappears into the sea before a crowd of gawkers when attempting to go stern-to, for example. (You can tie the bitter end of the chain off on anything—ankles are a common choice.)

Sterning-to gets its own chapter, of course. Yes, mastering the Med Moor isn’t an easy task. But I go through the entire procedure step-by-step from (A) how to entangle your rode in as many other rodes as possible; to (B) how to damage as many craft as possible while lifting your anchor—along with everyone else’s too.

What’s my CREATIVE ANCHORING book really about at its deepest level—besides a reoccurring need for cruising funds on my part?

It’s about confidence and pride, really.

No, you probably won’t stay-put any better after reading it. But if anyone suggests you should just maintain your position instead of dragging—you can shout back, prior to your vessels coming together, “What’s so creative about dat, mon?”

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Cap'n Fatty Goodlander
Cap'n Fatty Goodlanderhttp://fattygoodlander.com/
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander has lived aboard for 53 of his 60 years, and has circumnavigated twice. He is the author of Chasing the Horizon and numerous other marine books. His latest, Buy, Outfit, and Sail is out now. Visit: fattygoodlander.com

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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