Here you will find tales of voyages past and present on our trusty Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, "Sockdolager," and more recently, our Bigfoot29 powerboat, "Raven," from Port Townsend, Washington, USA. In 2009 we sailed north from Puget Sound up the west coast of Vancouver Island to the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii.) In 2010 we went back to the west coast of Vancouver Island. In July 2011 we left the Northwest, sailed to Mexico, and in March 2012 we crossed the Pacific to French Polynesia, then on to the Cooks, Niue and Tonga. We spent several months in New Zealand, and in May 2013 loaded the boat (and ourselves) on a container ship for San Francisco. In June and July 2013 we sailed north along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, and in August we arrived home. In October 2016 Sockdolager found new owners, and we are now enjoying Raven, a unique wooden 29' powerboat. In 2018 we cruised up to Glacier Bay, Alaska, and back. We hope you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy having them. (And there will be more.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Passive-Aggressive Anchoring Techniques

We are on the island of Tahuata, just SW of Hiva Oa, at anchor in Hana Moe Noa Bay. This was rated by the late Eric Hiscock to be one of the three most beautiful anchorages in all of Polynesia. He was right. Picture a stage set for "South Pacific:" a coconut palm-fringed white sand beach ringed by mountains, with water so clear you can easily see more than 30 feet down. We blink and it's still there! Amazing!

Zulu and Sockdolager finally shared an anchorage, and we enjoyed a sumptuous potluck feast and 2-guitar singalong with Brian and Marlene on their lovely gaff yawl's spacious deck last night. We talked at length about the passage, and found we'd shared much of the same weather and many of the same difficulties. They told us that the Japanese couple on Gaku, whom we'd met briefly at sea, had said that their passage from Mexico to the Marquesas was harder than their 52-day crossing of the Pacific from Japan to Prince Rupert, Canada—wow! There was another friendly boat here: Amnesia II from Australia, with Alan, Lisa and Jesse aboard; on the first evening in Hana Moe Noa Bay, the crews of Sockdolager and Zulu enjoyed a rendezvous and great conversation aboard Amnesia, and we remember every detail. Hope we meet up with them again.

Next we encountered some folks whom we'll just call The Blunderers. They're the inspiration for the title of this post. With only 4 boats at anchor in a rather large bay, you'd think it would be easy to find a spot, especially after one of the boats left. It's astounding that some people can cross an ocean and still make a total bollocks out of anchoring. The Blunderers are on a "42.2" foot sloop. For some reason they were attracted to Sockdolager like we were flypaper, even though their boat was nearly twice our size and the available anchoring room was half the size of a small county. They dropped anchor right off our bow and then retrieved it when it became obvious that they were going to hit us if they persisted. Jim went up on deck to initiate the stinkeye, and I did the same from the cockpit, but to no avail. Some people are immune to the stinkeye. The Blunderers motored directly ahead of us and dropped their anchor right ON TOP of ours. (I had dived on it so we knew where it was.) We were pretty sure they'd snagged our anchor, so Jim called over, "You're right on top of our anchor!" They waved a breezy acknowledgement and proceeded to move away by dragging their anchor backwards over the bottom. By some miracle they didn't drag us along with them because they'd somehow missed our anchor.

Another half-hour of The Blunderers motoring in circles right near us set my nerves on edge. What's wrong with the rest of the bloody bay, I muttered. But after three more close-call tries, they finally set their anchor. They were close, but it would be okay if the wind held in the same direction. In the early evening we dinghied over to Zulu for the aforementioned potluck, and saw The Blunderers letting out more chain when they swung too near us. Amnesia II left for Ua Pou about an hour before dark, which freed up the primo spot in the anchorage. With one eye on The Blunderers, we enjoyed our evening, returning to Sockdolager after dark. The Blunderers were far enough away from Sockdolager to let us feel we could get some sleep, so we did. But early this morning we were awakened by a woman's voice… in our cockpit. "STOP!" yelled Mrs. Blunderer.

Huh? Stop what? Rushing up to the cockpit while still half asleep is never a good idea. Their big bow hovered over our starboard side, and Mrs B just stood there on her boat, looking down at me and Sockdolager like she'd just encountered a roadkill. I hate it when I don't wake up fast, snappy comebacks are impossible. Their anchor chain led under our boat, which should have been no surprise. "Your boat is over our anchor rode," she called. No Duh, lady. Without a word to them, I called down to Jim that we should pull ourselves forward so they could leave, and he got up, got dressed, and went to the foredeck. I stayed in the cockpit in case we had to fend them off. Whew, they're leaving.

"Gee!" they chirped, "We really didn't mean to wake you up so early, after your party! Sorry about that!" We did not reply, "Oh that's okay," because it wasn't okay. But it was only polite to move Sockdolager forward so that they could leave, so we moved. But they didn't leave. They just motored over to the primo spot and dropped anchor there.

Message to "42.2" foot sloop: Learn. To. Anchor. You are a menace to everyone. And stop handing out false apologies.

Just as other drivers present the greatest highway risks, other vessels anchored poorly are the biggest risk to a cruising boat. Anchoring well is a fundamental skill. It is also the most frequent example of poor seamanship on exhibit, since the boats nearby have a vested interest in your ability to do it right. The best and most encyclopedic book we've seen on the subject is Earl Hinz's The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring. It's our anchoring bible.

As I write there's a slow-moving thunderstorm going on. Jim suggested that perhaps we might up-anchor and move closer to The Blunderers, maybe anchor right next to them and say, "There's lightning, and your mast is taller. We thought you wouldn't mind…"

"Nah," I said, grumpy because it was W.B.C. (way before coffee.)

"You're right," said Jim, "Anyway, from up on the foredeck this morning I farted in their general direction."

Monty Python would have been proud of us.

Sent via Ham radio


  1. Some people just don't get it, a big bay such as you were in, and they selected right by you? Can we say dumb m..... f......

  2. We have a very similar thing in San Earisto a few days ago, lonly with a power boat who dropped two anchors and caught two of us with is blunder!!

    Sounds like other than this, you are having a great time!! we just got to Puerto escondido, and now have internet for the first time in 7 has been great catching up with your blog

    Tom & Jeanne

    SV Eagle

  3. Last night as we sat on the beach and enjoyed the full moon rising over the ocean horizon, we met a distant cousin of the Blunderers. There he was, taking photos, flashing away. OK, it's dark, a flash goes 40 ft, and the moon is, I dunno, maybe 238,857 miles away? Cheez-o-Pete! So I decided to write a book entitled "When I am Queen" and fill it with things that will and won't happen under the reign of Me.
    1. no lights at the beach
    2. no sailing until you know how to anchor
    Got any other suggestions?

  4. Some people will NEVER learn.

    It's not THAT complicated. The books explain it simply, and simply watching others anchor should be enough to pick up the basic method.

    Nevertheless, some people just never learn. As you know, we see it all the time up here in B.C.

    (Maybe it's a brain problem....)

  5. A little follow-up... our friends on another cruising boat met up with them on another island, and not only did The Blunderers complain about us being over their anchor rode, they wrote about it in their blog. AAAA!! Oh well. I am still grateful to them for giving us such comic material. Cluelessness does have its comic side, as long as it's past tense.

  6. Hi you two,
    we just made it up to San Carlos/Guaymas where we will haul out shortly, so wanted to catch up to your blog. After reading your post on "The Blunderers", I am even more sorry we didn't meet you while in La Paz! Too GD funny and happens too many times.

    Maybe we should all buy spare copies of that anchoring book you mentioned, and hand one over when we encounter close cousins of theirs?!

    Your fabulous and funny posts have almost convinced me that our blog isn't worth messing with, but too many friends/family nipping at my heels won't let me opt for that. In the meantime, keep up the humor and the beautiful photos.

    I wrote you an email or comment seem to make photo-posting effortless on "blogspot"...would love to know how you do that.

    1. Hey - small world! Don't know if you'll see this, but I just blundered onto this blog and then blundered into your comment. We're in La Paz hoping to head into the sea again soon. Miss you guys!
      Awesome awesome blog about the anchoring idiots - had me laughing out loud! - Elizabeth from sv Vivacia

  7. I forgot...please write me ( if you'd care to share any tips....k

  8. Hi Keith and Kay,
    Thank you for your compliments; *Blush* The whole purpose of the blog is to maintain friendships at home and keep friends and family up to date, but it is growing beyond that with new "friends" like yourselves whom we have yet to meet. Your own blog is just as much needed and wanted as ours, so don't stop writing and posting--you have a strong signal from your friends and family to continue.

    Because this question has arisen before, I'll answer it here. I write the text of the blog out in Word while browsing through the latest photos, which are good memory joggers. (I also have brief notes in a little notebook that help me remember stories I want to tell.) Then I number each photo so it's in the right order in its file folder (saves time, and internet access is by the hour outside the US.) Most photos are reduced to under 200 kb for faster loading. In Blogger I pour in all the text, which contains short notes on where to put photos, then load the photos one by one from the top. It's labor intensive, but becomes a fun record of the voyage that anyone can enjoy. Plus, the whole humor writing schtick is fun, and the more I do it the more it seems to flow. None of this is effortless, but it is very satisfying, and thank you for the affirmation.