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Avoid keel wrap with an anchor rider

Jan 1, 2003

To the editor:I devoured every word of Earl Hinz's recent article on anchoring ("Mastering the Art of Anchoring," Issue No. 97, Ocean Voyager). Hinz's handling of the subject was very good.

One technique, the use of an anchor line weight or "rider," was not mentioned, however. Crucial to successful anchoring of a fin-keel boat in a tidal stream, it usually isn't covered by many who write on anchoring. In our experience, the most serious problem when anchoring in tidal flows is the natural inclination for nylon rode to wrap around the keel if it is not held down below the keel during that short interval when the tide pushes her back downstream, alongside the slackening rode, toward the buried anchor.

When the end of the tether is reached, the boat suddenly swings, and there is a 50% chance for the stern to swing so as to have the nylon rode wrap the keel; the boat, thence, is imprisoned broadside to the stream. The pressure on anchor and gear is tremendous since the broadside underwater area of the boat is many times that presented head-on to the current. Release of the line is not possible.

We have observed a boat lose its anchor, chain, and nylon rode, with the rode parting where it passed around the keel. Several other cases of damage to gunwale, rub rail, or anchor line have been observed with "keel-wrapped" boats. It is difficult to motor out of this situation; often the rode may require a rolling hitch and then be cut. Our introduction to this horror 20 years ago was on a mooring having too long a nylon pennant so it wrapped the keel on tidal change.

Now when we anchor, we routinely use the commercially available Anchor Line Tender with a 20-pound lead weight. The first mate always greets me, when I return aft, with "Is anchor rider on?"

I have an additional significant comment to add to the good treatment on binoculars by William J. Cook in the same issue ("Binocular basics explained"). He did not describe the solution to the major limitation in the use of binoculars at sea, namely, the effect of hand tremors in sighting of a distant object. Two years ago I obtained a pair of image stabilized (I.S.) 12 x 38 binoculars; no longer do I worry about field of view, image grasp, etc. In order to clearly identify a target at any distance, the only characteristic that I shall insist on is image stabilization. My former, excellent quality 7 x 50s (the highest magnification usually useful in hand-held binoculars) lie forlornly neglected in their case on a shelf. The only concern on I.S. binoculars may be a lack of full water resistance.