Rough Anchorages
- At anchor in Gale Force Winds

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  sv Baraka, USA  

Minorado Bay, Madagascar, October 2012. For three days the wind was blowing consistently around 40 knots, gusting to 45. Although the anchorage appears well protected from the east, conditions became surprisingly difficult. We were anchored in 4 metres less than a mile from shore, but even on that short strech the wind produced a nasty chop, probably because it was blowing towards a westerly swell. The holding was good in sand, but all boats encontered problems with the snubbing lines for the anchors.

sv Priscilla, USA sv Contrails, USA

In seas like this the foredeck pitches up and down through many feet, gaining considerable momentum in the process, making the windlass subject to repeated shock loading when the bow comes up. Windlasses are not designed to handle heavy snubbing loads and need to be protected. Therefore a snubbing line is important. We have a rope attached to the chain about two feet ahead of the bow and cleated to a secure cleat on deck, leaving a few feet of chain to dangle (see photo below). At Minorado Bay we broke our lines five times!

The problem was not with the breaking strength of the rope, but with the friction at the fairlead where the rope angles. Even though we used reinforced hose to minimize chafe, our 20 mm 3 strand braided mooring line broke in less than one hour (see photo below). We replaced this line with lines made of old sheets and those worked better. A heavy nylon line would probably be best.

Clockwise from top left: * A snubbing line from starboard cleat, (later we had one line from from each side) . * This line broke in one hour. * Reinforced hose protection.
* Minorado Bay looks well protected from the east. * The new genoa is dirty from the desert dust and sand.


Elaine, Promesa, Baraka and Priscilla streching their anchor chains at Minorodo Bay, Madagascar

Less than a week later saw the same group of yachts sitting out gale force winds again, this time on the other side of the Mozambique channel, at Linga-Linga in Mozambique. This spot is completely open for southerly winds, but being inside the reef there was at least no ocean swell. It was spring tide with a tidal span of about 2.5 metres, which made the yacht turn stern to the wind for 6 hours every 6 hours, a condition we don't like even in light winds. Now we had to tolerate this shuffle in consistent 30-35 knots S winds, gusting to 40 for more than a day. This time we had no problems with the snubbing lines as the wind and wave forces were fighting each other, but the conditions aboard were similar to sitting on a rodeo horse.

sy Elaine, Finland sv Priscilla, USA
These two photos are from Linga-Linga, where locals gave fantastic sailing performances.

Related article:
From Reunion to South Africa - A Difficult Passage.

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