Thursday, September 26, 2013

the anchoring dance

To non-boaters anchoring looks relatively simple. Stop the boat, drop the hook, sip the margarita and enjoy the sunset.  It's infinitely more complex than that. There is etiquette and safety and a steep learning curve. If your anchor fails or even decides to siesta, you can lose your boat. We've had a couple of close calls back in our full time cruising days, and it is hair raising. Once we were on a friend's boat in Allan's Cay, Bahamas drinking and schmoozing into the wee hours under a perfect full moon. My friend poured another round and said casually, "Look behind you, it seems your boat missed you and decided to join the party." Our boat which was anchored a nice safe distance away was now so close we could step aboard.

(Random, old, crappy scan of our first boat somewhere in the Bahamas with the world's greatest dog in the foreground. This was a couple of days after the anchoring incident.)

Picking out an anchor is one of those topics that will get sailors foaming at the mouth debating why THEIR very well researched anchor is the best. One thing became clear over the past few years, we needed a new one. Every time we anchor in the chocolate pudding that is the bottom of the Chesapeake, our boat does the electric slide. Re-anchoring became the norm.

So we read everything. And we asked everyone. And we decided to try out a relatively new, boater owned anchor company called Mantus. The enormous box arrived and Doug got right to it installing the new beast. Zach joked that our old anchor (which came with the boat 9 years ago) looked like a toy next to the new one. After hastily posting a new anchor photo on facebook, the owners of the company were kind enough to gently point out that we installed it backwards. Whoops. Thank you!

(This was before we corrected the mistake.)

Then we were off to one of our favorite gunkholes. We do the anchoring dance and pick the perfect spot on a busy weekend. It seems power boaters were out in full force, but there was plenty of room for everyone even if the anchor did a slip'n'slide on the bottom. The anchor bit hard, on the first try! There was no resetting, no slipping down the creek. Sweet!

We thought we were all done. Just start dinner and let the fun begin. That's when the first one came. A group in a small day tripper stink pot. They circle like a clueless shark and then it happens. They drop their anchor right next to us. I mean RIGHT next to us. Like, hey can you pass the Grey Poupon close.  My pal Behan wrote a wonderful article all about anchoring etiquette that you can read here.  But when these guys plopped down that close I will admit I resorted to this stance so perfectly described by my friend Mike.

Here's where it gets worse. They had friends. Loads of them. They were planning a freaking party and even though we were close enough to see the play list on their stereo we weren't invited. Nor would we want to be. Half dressed, very drunk adults shaking things that should be covered up and music so loud it rattled our windows.

Should we move? Should they? All I could think was, but our beautiful anchor is set so perfectly! I. AM. NOT. MOVING. So we put on little kid music as loud as we could on the exterior only speakers. Have you ever taken a Music Together Class with your tot? Yeah, it was THAT cd. We went inside and pretended not to notice. They actually pulled up their anchor as the "Hello Song" came to a close. WHOOO! Success! But then the whole raft of them tried to re-anchor, they were so drunk and their anchor was so bad that they ended up sliding through the mud right back on top of us.

We gave up. But we didn't move. And thankfully they started leaving by sunset. As they motored off into the coral colored horizon, one woman in particular was still shaking her money maker on top of the main boat. "Mama, why dat lady got her boobies out, I don't see her baby with her?" Sigh.

We slept peacefully, not worrying about whether we would wake up across the creek in the morning. After breakfast we hauled up our trusty Mantus. It was only the first time using her, but she proved herself in a spot we have dragged in time and time again over the years. The only thing better would be if it had a dingbat avoidance system and moved itself when folks like these guys arrived. Here's hoping our dances with the Mantus are all slow and steady.

p.s. If you don't know the song Anchoring Dance by Eileen Quinn and you are a boater, stop what you're doing and find it on amazon. So. SO. Funny. Eileen is an old cruising friend of ours and her songwriting is hilarious, especially for the nautically afflicted.

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