Helen thinks I’m obsessive and I know that’s true. Lately I’ve been obsessing about anchors and storms. What’s the best way to face one of those demon storms that severely punish many boaters who are naively confident from their history of Sunday afternoon sailboat regattas. Two months ago I met a man in the local coffee shop where many of us sailor types like to hang out. His leg was in a caste and he told me an interesting story about how his anchor snubber line had chafed through one night during a wild Northeaster storm. This allowed the chain to pull tight with tremendous force and even yanked the windlass completely off the boat. In all the turmoil, his foot got caught in the anchor chain and was nearly amputated.
That sailor’s story reminded me of my 1988 fight with another Northeaster storm in which we nearly died. In fact we were anchored in the same location as the unfortunate sailor who nearly lost his foot. During my brawl with my own demon storm, our jib unraveled in near hurricane winds and cinched up like a small spinnaker that put us under sail. Our Bruce anchor plowed through the bottom muck instead of holding us fast. We could see we were dragging towards shoals and the only things that saved us was when I crawled up to the nose and pushed off a second anchor that eventually set. I learned alot that night: how to secure a jib for a storm and to not use a Bruce anchor when I need strong holding power on a silt bottom. I also learned something very empowering about myself that I previously didn’t know. I hadn’t known that I would have the where-with-all to face probable death and still self-reflect. That’s what happened. When the worst part of the storm hit, our jib blew out and started catching the wind with a humongous crashing sound. It felt like a monstrous giant was pounding the boat to pieces. As I ran up the stairs to the top deck and caught a face full of hail, Helen yelled out “I’m scared!” I yelled back “I am too!” The sea conditions and the uncontrolled sail looked like Hell unleashed. It was apparent that the sail could literally decapitate me if I made a mistake. As I stood there thinking we were all going to die within 10 minutes, I also thought it was ironic that I had expressed my fear to my wife. I had expressed my feelings. What a new-age man! Big whoop-deep-do! I thought it was darkly humorous that I would self-reflect on my own authenticity during the last moments of my life. But as fate would have it, my second anchor did the trick and death was postponed for a probable 40+ more years. Which brings me to my main point. I’m going to give myself permission to get obsessive about my new anchoring SYSTEM.
I’ve been visualizing, planning, obsessing, researching and now purchasing the meanest, nastiest bad-ass anchoring system I can fit on my boat: a 75 pound pivot arm Super-max anchor with 2 humongous 3-strand snubber lines, chafing gear and all stainless steel thimbles, hooks and shackles. I’m imagining that next demon storm and I feel like shouting “Come on! Bring it on! I’m ready for you!” Sometimes I think my obsessing helps me to prepare and feel safe. It’s rather like having a big protective brother. Bryce (1/22/2009)