When we first set out on our adventure we had completed in-depth research and budgeting – in Ian’s style; with spreadsheets and accounts. In order to be sure we could live on our fairly shoestring budget we had carefully calculated how much we would spend on food, laundry, gas, fuel, etc. You name it, we had it covered in our budgeting. Inexplicably, and I know you’ll be amazed by this knowing of our thoroughness, we had missed out marina fees.
We set off on the first tentative leg of our journey to Gibraltar. First stop Mazagon Marina – 20 odd Euros and so on, every night until we reached Mainland Spain when in one marina we were charged 50 Euros and are still smarting at the eye-watering cost of that night in early April.
It soon became obvious to even to the non-accountants in our partnership that we would have to start anchoring more. We had anchored once, in a huge bay off Estepona, and were only emboldened to do so because our new friends (Peter and Annelise on Skadi) were also anchoring there and they gave us the confidence to have a go. We had a rolly night but it was very peaceful and a good start.
Once we arrived in Port de Soller, Mallorca and the spell of unsettled weather had cleared, Ian said that we simply had to man up! We were breaking the budget and seriously curtailing our cruising careers.
Heart in my mouth, I released the stern lines attaching us to dry land and we pootled out into the crowed bay in Port de Soller. We motored round a bit trying to pick our spot. We dropped the hook and kept a sharp look out to judge if it was holding. Once we were both happy that it seemed to have set Ian swam out to inspect the anchor. Due to the swell creeping in we thought we ought to try to set a kedge (stern) anchor so that the nose of the boat was pointing into the waves the whole night. It is all good practice I kept telling myself. High hearts rates and stress levels persisted throughout this process and through most of the night. Every time Ian or I woke up we would pop our heads up into the cockpit, meer cat style, to check that we hadn’t moved at all. Without a kedge anchor, it can be disconcerting to see that whilst you were asleep the wind has changed direction and you are now pointing at another part of the coast.
Despite the horror stories from other yachties about 40kn katabatic winds sweeping down in the night and making their boats drag their anchors, we have not been put off. We persevered and have had no problems even in quite strong winds which all goes towards developing our confidence.
One of the most reassuring technical apparatus we have is the anchor watch which sets off an alarm should we move away from the spot where we dropped the anchor. We use the one on the computer and sometimes double up with an App that Ian has on his phone, called Drag Queen.
On a few occasions the alarms have gone off and we both leap out of bed to go and see what’s happening. It takes a while for the heart rate to settle down and to go back to the land of nod after that, I can tell you.
We have watched the parking techniques of many a yacht by now and have developed our own ways of doing things so that, touch wood, we have not yet dragged the anchor in any major way.
We drive into a bay GPS showing a clear map of the depths and our position. We pick our general spot and Ian drives in and makes a slow and deliberate circle around the edges of where we think will be the best spot to drop the anchor. In this way, we can be sure we have enough depth around the circumference of our swinging circle once the chain is out. As soon as we have done the circling round, we head into the wind and the epicenter of the circle we have just drawn.
I have already untied the anchor and it is poised on the brink ready for speedy deployment. Ian indicates with our agreed hand signal and I let the anchor drop as we coast to a stop. Whilst the first 10m falls to the sea bed Ian goes down below to set the anchor watch. As he appears back up in the cockpit I am ready to let more chain out, as we gently drift backwards on the wind. Depending on the depth and the strength of the wind and other boats/obstacles around us, we let out what we think is the right amount of chain. Usually this works out at four times the depth but, the more the merrier. Ten times the depth is usual in strong winds.
Since we departed we have now spent 117 nights at anchor, alongside a town quay or sailing overnight, out of 200 nights away. The strongest winds we have experienced at anchor have been about 30 knots. The deepest water 11m.
AND, oddly, we have begun to really enjoy the anchoring experience. No fenders to put out, no lines to prepare, no stress of parking in a tight spot in howling winds with lazy lines to snag on and sharp parts of other boats to prang! The slight downside is that it’s a bit more effort and coordination to get to the shore.
On balance, the cooler air out in the bay and the extra privacy, not to mention the grandstand view of all that is going on around you, more than makes up for the inconvenience.
Plus, I ought to make a special mention about the male Italian (European?) fashion habit of wearing skimpy swimming trunks when out and about on the water. In common parlance amongst us Northern folk, these small items of apparel are known as ‘budgie smugglers’; an inference to the total lack of imagination needed as to the lumpy contents of said trunks. There is also penchant for fluorescent versions which are even more eye-catching than normal. What is even more amazing for us prudish Yorkshire folk…these chaps think nothing of walking about on land dressed like this. When I say dressed, that is hardly the right word for such scant clothing. It does make for the most entertaining people watching and when we are with David Heane, he can be heard saying ‘BUDGIE AND SMUGGLER’ repeatedly in a loud stage whisper. The delivery being a definitive and emphatic exclamation of his amazement at their bare-faced cheek!
Technical detail for my brother; just so he knows.
We have a 25kg Delta anchor on the bow attached to 50m of 10mm galvanised and calibrated chain (soon to be 100m) due to deeper anchorages in Greece.
The kedge anchor is a Danforth anchor at the stern with 10m of 10mm galvanised chain and 50m thick nylon warp.
The front anchor is deployed using a LOFRANS TIGRESS 1000 Watt anchor windlass with a remote control with wires or wireless remote control.