fitting-out guidelines (partial) for widely wandering boats


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Dick
Dick
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I thought this might be of interest to the OCC community:
Hi all,
I was writing up my guidelines or my “philosophy” (if you will) of fitting out widely wandering sailboats and, certainly, my leaning toward the conservative and the time-tested was part of my stance when this email came in from a friend sailing the Canadian Maritimes.
on the way back we were caught by Hurricane Dorian at the head of Ship Harbour. We were sailing in tandem with our friends and because they had an engine problem we got delayed and never made it back to base at Shinning Waters before it hit. I anchored at the head of the bay, about 10 miles inland, surrounded by forest and high hills on three sides. I was in 8 meters of water and had 100m of chain and a big Rocna in front. Long story short, the boat held all night in 75-80 kts of wind and 3 meter storm surge, but when the wind shifted in the morning the Rocna dislodged from its initial position and dragged. Our friends lost their boat on the rocks in the nearby cove, and Northern Light was on her side on a small beach off an islet, about 100m away.
For a long time, back when the new generation anchors emerged, I tried to figure how to get a Rocna anchor to sit comfortably on the anchor platform of Alchemy, a Valiant 42. They were all the rage, and anchoring in the Mediteranean was often difficult with my CQR. I failed and did not purchase one.
It was a good few years later that reports started trickling in about Rocna’s bad habit of not re-setting after a wind shift (or current change if in a tidal stream): bad enough if you are on board but potentially a lost boat if you are on a hike or other excursion. In addition to the anecdotal reports, I know of three very experienced cruisers who had their Rocnas fail to reset, two were in the really isolated areas of Greenland and Brazil.*
So, one of my “guidelines” is the unpredictability of future performance without lots of field reports from numerous people who are out-there-doing-that: in other words, the early adapters: bless them. Many of the early adapter’s make this work as they have had enough interest to make their early adapting project a consuming hobby and are so immersed that they can trouble-shoot on the fly and then report back so that later iterations are less likely to have the problem: again, bless them. For most widely wandering boats, a successful cruise is more likely with gear that has passed the test of time and where gear is more likely well understood.
This is, in part, why I believe mission critical gear should have at least 5 years of field experience, preferably 10, before it can be recommended to a widely wandering boat. It takes time for problems to emerge and the found problems can be “publicized” (passed around the boatyard etc.). (And the marine publishing industry, in my observation, is far more committed to keeping problematic gear/design, engineering etc. a trade secret than they are in informing the public: their bottom line is more important than the average sailor’s welfare).
This rather indirect form of R&D is understandable and not really to be criticized and exists largely because of the small volume of product that is likely to be sold: as opposed to the auto industry where production is counted in the many millions. They can and do spend much $$ and time on R&D, so we are used to products hitting the shelves largely vetted for problems: not so the marine industry. But this indirect R&D does take time.
My friend and crew were fine, but the boat suffered $30k in damages.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
*I believe that the marine industry does the cruising community a dis-service by not being more public about bad habits/poor design etc. among the products and boats being flogged (I only know of Practical Sailor to have mentioned this issue with Rocnas). I believe my friend did not know about Rocna’s bad habit of not re-setting or he could have done what another friend does with his Rocna. Whenever there is a significant wind shift, he raises anchor, cleans off the anchor and re-anchors facing the new direction. Rocna’s are a very effective anchor in one direction as is shown by the communication from my friend above. I am sure it would not have been fun, but, had he known, my friend could have raised anchor in the wind shift and re-set a clean anchor and been fine.

Sonia Johal
Sonia Johal
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ORIGINAL ROCNA ANCHOR…


Thanks Dick,

I appreciate your article as I do feel extremely surprised to hear of this re-setting issue, especially as my own original Rocna anchor with 60m chain (as opposed to Vulcan or other Rocna models) has not dragged what so ever, even during hoolies, despite my January anchoring in the UK…

In particular, I have successfully used my 20kg Rocna since 2016 in preparation for sailing around the Western Isles of Scotland, including the Outer Hebrides and up to Orkney, Fair Isles and the Shetlands.

In particular, I continue to use my Rocna for all of my sailing time, as I prefer the freedom and beauty of anchorages.

As such, please would you share the wind strength in knots, type of sea bed or holding your mentioned Rocna anchors dragged in?

For example, my Scottish fisherman friends all said if the weight recommendations are complied with, the Rocna anchor will only drag if it is anchored in thick lying weed unable to reach the sea bad, or anchored in way above 50 knots of wind…

I’d be grateful for your input, as I was thinking about also buying a spare Rocna and don’t yet know of any others that excel the Rocna’s strong SHHP holding consistency.

All the best,
Fair winds,


Sonia
SY Salacia



Dick
Dick
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Sonia Johal - 28 Nov 2022
ORIGINAL ROCNA ANCHOR…


Thanks Dick,

I appreciate your article as I do feel extremely surprised to hear of this re-setting issue, especially as my own original Rocna anchor with 60m chain (as opposed to Vulcan or other Rocna models) has not dragged what so ever, even during hoolies, despite my January anchoring in the UK…

In particular, I have successfully used my 20kg Rocna since 2016 in preparation for sailing around the Western Isles of Scotland, including the Outer Hebrides and up to Orkney, Fair Isles and the Shetlands.

In particular, I continue to use my Rocna for all of my sailing time, as I prefer the freedom and beauty of anchorages.

As such, please would you share the wind strength in knots, type of sea bed or holding your mentioned Rocna anchors dragged in?

For example, my Scottish fisherman friends all said if the weight recommendations are complied with, the Rocna anchor will only drag if it is anchored in thick lying weed unable to reach the sea bad, or anchored in way above 50 knots of wind…

I’d be grateful for your input, as I was thinking about also buying a spare Rocna and don’t yet know of any others that excel the Rocna’s strong SHHP holding consistency.

All the best,
Fair winds,


Sonia
SY Salacia



Hi Sonia,
I am not surprised you were surprised: it is, unfortunately, not widely disseminated information. And do not get me wrong: the Rocna classic (with a roll bar) is a far more effective anchor than say, a CQR or a Bruce, especially in a straight pull after being set; which is the case for most anchoring situations. And it can and does re-set, but it is not consistent and when you need it most (a sharp change in direction and pulling along the bottom at speed), it may fail to re-set. A slow re-set, likely in gentle winds where the anchor is allowed to settle, a re-set is more likely.
And your Scottish fishermen friends were quite accurate in pointing out that weight is a big factor in getting penetration through weeds and kelp to the seabed. This may help explain why a Spade anchor is so effective with its tip filled with lead and concentrated at leading the anchor through the weeds and into the seabed.
But, I do disagree that anchors will drag at 50kn+ wind speed: a good anchor may creep some, especially if it is the “recommended” size as per manufacturer. My experience is that, for cruising boats, one should be one or two sizes above recommended. (I actually recommend that one’s bower also be one’s storm anchor: too often a storm anchor is buried deep and hard to deploy and many storms are squalls and the like which come on unexpectedly and give little time for preparation).
Firstly, I was using the anecdote as an example of two areas of concern for me in my writing: That problems or bad habits in new and exciting gear and systems often take years to emerge, and:
Secondly, I wanted to do a little rant about the marine industry and their unwillingness to flag practices and gear that may be problematic.
(I am only talking about the Rocna with the roll bar, I believe the jury is still out with regards to the Vulcan, which I believe was developed, in part, as a reaction to the classic Rocna re-setting issue, and, in part, as a response to Spade’s popularity and effectiveness). With regard to Rocna’s occasional bad habit of not re-setting after a wind shift or current change if in a tidal flow, I know of this proclivity from direct reports from skippers (and friends) where this has occurred. I know Practical Sailor magazine in the US has also expressed concerns in this area and may generally be speaking of those anchors with roll bars.
The fullest report on this issue (that I know of) is on fellow OCC member John Harries’ Attainable Adventures Cruising web site where he collects and opines on the subject along with many experienced skippers who weigh in with their thoughts and experiences. It will cost you~~$20 for a membership, but if you are fitting out, as you are, for offshore passage making, I believe there is no better place to gather a wide range of thoughts on all aspects of offshore wandering by sailboat. The membership will more than pay for itself, I expect, quite quickly.
For a striking example on video of the Rocna re-setting issue, go to SV Panope (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WL9JL9AK6ss might be a good place to start) where there are also great videos of a wide variety of anchors setting and re-setting in various bottoms very creatively done.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy


Sonia Johal
Sonia Johal
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Thanks again Dick,

I appreciate your kind words, understand your mentioned resetting issues and recommended website, but I do feel safer within the scope of the OCC.

It’s just that my own Rocna anchor has reset successfully without any drag nor creeping over and over again since 2016 without fail. Even in changing current direction, exceeding 5knots off the Scottish Isle of Luing during constantly veering and backing F8 winds. Perhaps your expectations may be greater than those of Rocna’s manufacturer’s guidelines.

However, if you refer to the same Practical Sailor article I read last night, it refers to small boats in shallow waters. Plus, I’m not yet convinced by the YouTube videos.

Either way, I must comply with my own insurance company’s stipulations that only accept the anchor manufacturer’s specifications.

So unless anyone can recommend a SHHP anchor that guarantees holding in over 50 knots of wind….

….as contingency for winds in excess of F10, my only option is to buy my second Rocna anchor,

Grateful for your most in-depth and generous responses.

Fair winds,


Sonia
SY Salacia
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