Fear and Dragging in Deltaville

"Holy smokes. We’re moving.” When was the last time Matt swore?

Just an hour ago, we went for a dusk swim and watched the sunset. After battling triple digit temps for days, it felt good to see the world outside our dark cabin and cool off in the water. It was peaceful. I was happy.

Fishing Bay anchorage, Deltaville VA
Sunset and storms brewing
Happy Ignorance
Two days earlier we had departed Mobjack Bay after a walk on the beach. We motored to Deltaville (what little wind there was, was on the nose). Matt went on a killing spree and slaughtered 49 flies. We swam to try and cool off. We ran the AC off the generator. We were hot. We paid the dinghy fee at Fisherman Bay Marina and have been using their courtesy car to go to West Marine, the grocery store, the hardware store, and check out boat yards for our haul out next month. We’re basically just hiding from the sun, waiting for double digit temps instead of triple digit temps.

We were sitting in the cockpit when the winds picked up. Good, we should have enough breeze to sleep tonight. Wow! I think it’s going to rain. We threw in cushions, closed hatches and grabbed our computers from the cockpit just before the downpour started. Lightning blinded us in between patches of extreme darkness. 35 knots. 43 knots. 51 knots. "Holy smokes. We’re moving."

We dragged 100 ft and then the anchor seemed to re-set. We could see the other anchored boats' lights a safe distance away. There’s no way we can consider doing anything for our situation with lightning right on top of us. Would our engines even be able to push back against these winds? There’s nothing to do but wait it out. Hastings is in his bed, snoring. No, I didn’t feel the boat moving; we just watched it on our GPS. At one point we got up to 1.6 knots over the ground…backwards! Against a pitch black sky, 50 knot winds, pelting rain and 5 ft seas, it felt like we were in a speculator storm, but I had no sense of direction or speed.

It took 20 minutes for the storm to lessen. Another 20 minutes and the lightning had moved enough that we felt safe to put out another 100 ft of chain and re-set the anchor. I wish I could blame Rocna anchors, but we only put out a 5 to 1 scope. (Scope is the amount to chain to depth of water - for instance, a 5 to 1 scope in 20 ft of water is 100 ft of chain - fine for calm weather - stormy weather requires a 10 to 1 scope, or 200 ft in 20 ft of water) We were lulled by the 0 knot winds, but we know better.

A big disadvantage we have in the catamaran for situations like this is the anchor bridle. On a monohull, it would be pretty easy to just put out some more chain. Even if a snubber line is used, it is usually short. For us to put more chain out, first we must pull in 20-ish feet of chain, remove the chain hook that connects the bridle to the chain, let out the extra scope and then reset the chain hook and bridle. None of that sounds fun (maybe not even possible!) in the face of 50 knot gusts (and Lucy doesn’t like Matt touching metal during intense thunderstorms!) So lesson learned…7:1 minimum is the new standard, and 10:1 if any thunderstorms are likely!

When was the last time you swore? Can you sleep through storms like Hastings does?

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  1. That was a serious thunderstorm! Scary... We only experienced 50+ knots a few times, as gusts. Not fun! If it happens during the day, you see the seawater fly horizontally! 5:1 scope with chain should suffice in most situations and the Rocna anchor is awesome, except in weeds (no anchor is great in weeds), is our experience. I can see your desire to let out 7:1 scope and as long as there is enough room to swing with other boats etc, it is a nice concept! :-)

    1. There are many reasons being alone in an anchorage is a good thing!


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