At least nobody saw that right? (CB)

I wrote this story last year about this time for a contest in 48 North, which is a free sailing magazine here in the Pacific Northwest. The contest was to write an article about an anchoring issue you may have had on your boat, good, bad or otherwise. I ended up tieing for 3rd place or honorable mention. I thought I’d repost it here for you guys to read. Click here for the other stories that were submitted.


This story took place a few summers ago, on our 27 foot Catalina “StrangeCrew”.

Tawn and I decided to invite a few friends down to the boat for a Saturday afternoon sail, some cocktails followed by a nice relaxing evening anchored out in front of the Seattle waterfront listening to the Indigo Girls at one of the “Summer Nights at the Pier concerts”.

Things started out fine, everyone we invited accepted. And on the afternoon of the party we shoved off right on time from our slip at Shilshole Marina and motored out into Shilshole Bay. We raised the sails, killed the engine and set a course for Elliot Bay. Somewhere along the way Tawn finds a relatively private moment to voice her concerns about what my plan was for anchoring. This was actually a valid concern, considering the fact that in the two years we had owned the boat, (our first boat) we had never anchored before. She also pointed out that we did not have a working depth sounder on board either. There may have also been something about me being an idiot but it was windy that day and I probably just misunderstood her.

Fast forward just a bit. We just finished dropping all sails and firing up the engine. One of my buddies digs the anchor and rode out of their storage spots and with Tawn’s help, gets it all rigged up and ready. While all this is going on, I’m looking for the perfect anchoring spot. Which, at this point in my anchoring career consist of the spot on the water with the fewest boats near it. There are no such spots of course, but undaunted I pick a area nicely triangulated by two large and expensive powerboats and a sweet 40-foot sailboat. OK this is it, this is as good as spot as any. How hard can this be? I wondered. Just drop the anchor over the bow and back down onto it until the boat stops. The wind picks up a little. I yell to Tawn on the bow to drop the anchor. She does, the wind picks up a little more and the anchor keeps dropping, all the rode has played out and is now at the bitter end, which is made fast to the Sampson post on the bow…..You didn’t really think this was gonna be a “We forgot to tie the anchor off” anchoring story did you? Come on, give me a little more credit than that. Back to the story, having never anchored before Tawn yells back to me, “I think it’s on the bottom??” Which I think sounds about like the sort of thing one would say at this point in time. So I do what all the books about anchoring tell me I should do, I put the engine in reverse and wait to stop moving backwards………and wait……..and wait……..oh crap! We’re not stopping and that big shiny (expensive) power yacht is getting REALLY close. Ever so lovingly to Tawn I say, “What did YOU do wrong?” Granted saying this in front of 6 of our closet friends, 15-20 people on neighboring boats, and oh yeah, 500 or so concert goers, who are watching our antics while waiting for the concert to start, may or may not have been the smartest thing to do. But now was not the time to worry about that. I had a boat to anchor.

My buddy hauls the anchor up, I reposition the boat and we try again. With the same results, only this time I do the hauling and dropping and Tawn is manning the helm.

On the fourth or fifth try, Tawn has a brilliant idea, why doesn’t someone yell over to one of the other boats anchored nearby and ask them what the depth is. Genius, shear genius, why didn’t I think of that?…oh wait…I can. I acted like I didn’t hear her and yell over to one of the other boats anchored nearby and ask them what the depth is. She knows I’m full of it, but for the sake of our friend’s comfort, she lets it slide……or did I actually pull it off? One of the other boats must have been having some sort of trouble also, because I faintly hear over the wind someone’s wife on another boat calling her husband an idiot. Sound really does travel on water. But I digress; we get four different responses from three different boats on what the depth is that range from 45 feet to 98 feet. Thank you?!

By this time I’m sensing some distress coming from the guests onboard…..what do to……what to do? I know now how the rest of the great nautical heroes through out the ages must have felt in similar situations, alone at the helm in the heat of battle or in some uncharted corner of the world in the middle of a storm. How would Lord Nelson handle this I thought, what would Captain Cook do. Capt’n Ron HELP ME!!!!

I made a command decision. I announced we would motor in closer to the piers. The water would be shallower and therefore easier to get the anchor on the bottom. The Captain has spoken!

We motor in, drop the anchor and backed down……..we stopped moving! Yep, the CAPTAIN has spoken!! A great feeling of relief washes over me…….and I hear one person up on the pier clapping. I look up and it’s a friend who’s at the concert. COOL! I’m awesome. I gloat for a bit……to myself. After all, I planned this to happen.

After a few minutes me and some of the crew decide (and by decide I mean we dared each other) to dive in for a nice refreshing swim……this lasted about 6 seconds and we all climb back aboard. The crew did so via the swim ladder. I, being the captain decided that it would be best if I climbed in via the stern, using the outboard as a sort of ladder, instead of waiting to use the official swim ladder. After all, should I die of hypothermia, who would get the boat and all aboard her home? So up and over the stern I went.

Just as we get dried off and warmed up, a power boat is going through the same pathetic attempts at anchoring that we went through earlier. So I did what anyone in my position would do, I judged him…….and none to silently either. We mocked him and toasted his ineptitude, not so he could hear mind you, but just loud enough to grab the attention of Neptune. It was a about this time that his anchor grabbed a hold of my anchor line and pulled my anchor free. I deserved it……I know that now. He promptly dropped my anchor as he motored off at a high rate of speed. And I could swear that I felt my anchor grab the bottom. I know I felt it, we were not moving at all. After all, the anchor was in the exact same spot as before. Of course it would hold, the Captain has SPOKEN! And Neptune and Tawn laughed, not loudly, but they did laugh.

“Is the pier getting closer?” Tawn said.

“What?, No!?” Said I. “Enjoy the evening and quit worrying so much” I offered.

Oh crap!! WE ARE DRAGGING ANCHOR! The Captain is Screaming.

The pier is now within fifty feet of the stern of the boat. I can almost look straight up in to the nostrils of a few hundred concert goers watching the events play out like so many NASCAR fans waiting for a crash. We bolt in to action, I run forward and start hauling the anchor up like a man possessed. Tawn fires up the engine and slams it in to forward. We are now broadside to the wharf, 30 feet away and getting closer!!

“Turn the FREAKIN tiller” I scream. I look back and she is. It is hard over to starboard and we are still going forward and to starboard towards the pilings.

With a look of shear terror in her eyes, Tawn yells to me: “Why is the boat not turning.”

The wharf is now about 20 feet way. I’m looking up at the underside of it. A sight no man on a sailboat should ever see. The pilings are opening up, they actually look like giant teeth. I feel like Luke in the garbage compactor on the Death Star…….”R2D2……Were can he BEEEEEE!!”

R2D2 is not gonna help me. I run back to the cockpit, my friends have long since disappeared below. I now have less than 20 feet before we slam into the wharf. I have a flash of insight, everything slows down, I feel like Neo in bullet time in the Matrix. THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, I can feel my heart pounding in my ears. I look towards the bow and see Tawn standing at the starboard shrouds ready to fend off (god I hope she doesn’t try that). I look down into the cabin, my friends staring wide eyed back at me. I look up at the crowd……..they want me to fail. I know it.

One hand on the tiller, hard over to starboard, the other hand reaching down, lifting the engine well cover. A quick flick of the eyes tells me that the engine has been pivoted so it is forcing the boat to turn to starboard no matter what the rudder is doing. Now how could that have happened??…….OOoohh yeah……No time…….bullet time only last so long. I yank the engine over the other way, bending the outboard’s little tiller in the process. The boat spins hard to port, just like it should. And we brush by the wharf with less than 15 feet to spare and out to sea…….or at least out into the nice openness of Elliot Bay. Time returns to normal, the wharf shrinks away, R2D2 got the compactor shut down and the opening band begins to play……

Let’s never speak of this again!

This entry was posted in Adventures, CB, Day Sails, StrangeCrew, Tawn. Bookmark the permalink.

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