Can’t Pull up the Anchor!

Have you ever wanted to go somewhere and things have just gotten in the way and prevented you from going? Well when you are on a boat there are all sorts of things that can happen to you but one of the most frustrating is when you pull up your anchor and it won’t actually come up!

Last night while I was out with the kids picking Papayas and Bananas off of trees in the rain, Kirsten was frantically on the boat asking other yachties for help. She was alone with Zakary and a dozing Eli (who was no help) and as she drifted within a foot of a neighbouring boat she threw over the bumpers and called another person for help. He was kind enough to row over and help drop our stern anchor down for us further out so that we would no longer be in danger of smashing into the boat next to us. The marina near Atuona is very crowded and so it was necessary to have a bow and a stern anchor to keep us from swinging around with the currents.

Well this helpful person sure did a good job because this morning when I went to pull up our two anchors the one he dropped would not come up. We pulled and pulled but all we did was start to pull the boat toward the anchor. Finally I got Jaeden and Dailin into the water which was only 10 feet deep to see what they could do. After some time however they said there was no way that they could even budge the anchor. Our friend Pifa from Hiva Oa who had come first thing in the morning to sail to his village on the North side of Hiva Oa even tried to dive down and pull up the anchor. It would not move as the anchor was in the mud so deep we were going to have to shovel it out.

day26-20130514120121(1) Fortunately I had brought some Scuba gear and so that is what I set out to do. I spent a bit of time pulling out my gear and a short while later I was in the water pulling myself hand over hand along the chain to the anchor. When I reached the bottom of the muddy bay, I had to lift up the pile of chain that was on the bottom of the ocean floor mud in order to find the end of it. It was heavy but finally I found the end of the chain and the top of the anchor which had wedged itself over a foot deep into the heavy mud floor. I tried wiggling the anchor out by prying it back and forth but this was only making me breath faster, using up my oxygen tank that I had strapped on. Finally I decided to start digging. The water was so muddy that I could not see anything anyways and so blind to everything around me as if I were in a mirky dark room I started to pull up the black silt bottom off of the top of the anchor. I dug with my hand hoping that there were no sea creatures embedded in the mud that would sting me. After a few minutes I was able to dig a hole deep enough that I could start to wiggle the anchor back and forth. Finally I pulled it out of the water and rested it upright on the ocean floor. That is when I surfaced to let them know that they could now pull up the anchor.

The problem however was that there was too much of a slack line and when they started to pull the anchor up, it just wedged itself again into the muddy ocean floor. I told them that I would tug on the line when I was down below so that they could pull up the anchor and went back down again to the mirky water below. This time it was a quick fix to pull out the anchor. I had difficulty finding the chain however as there was so much laying on the bottom of the ocean floor. When I did, they got the message and started to pull. I decided to hang onto the anchor for a free ride up to the surface of the water.

By the time we had pulled up our anchor we had spent over an hour and a half trying to get ourselves free of the muddy ocean floor. We were finally ready at 11am to head for our next destination of Hanaiapa on the North side of Hiva Oa to relax a few days in the atmosphere of a very quiet village.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. These are some of the adventurers that set cruisers apart from us land-tethered folk. One night, when we were moored in the bay at Bora Bora, a fierce wind blew up that kept trying to push us onto the beach. We couldn’t get our anchor up to go out further in the bay so Ty and I stayed up all night keeping the motor in reverse. It was a sweat-inducing few hours, I can attest. Den was in Papeete getting supplies and missed all the excitement and the girls just slept through it all. Thankfully, the morning brought calm winds and seas so we could catch some zzz’s. I can relate to Kir’s panic.

  2. I know I’ve said it before. There were two things worried me about sailing. The wind and the land. I never got to the point where I trusted my anchor to keep me from drifting onto the land. How indeed could a twenty pound anchor keep a 26 ton steel boat from being blown or floating onto the nearby land. When we went through hurricane Val I had four anchors down. When we went through the next hurricane, Ofa, I had eleven anchors down. I am a bit obsessive compulsive but while sitting in the boat listening to all the cries for help for the two days it lasted I felt sorta okay. You never know with a boat what might happen.


    We did not have insurance on our boat. Kir and Norm do you have insurance on yours? Grandpa

  3. Oh Gramps it’s good to hear from you!! Funny how I have to come all the way over here to come across a few words of wisdom. I was just thinking how boring life is without the steady stream of lectures that I am so used to enjoying and what do you know I stumbled across one in the most unlikely places. I must admit, I like hearing lectures to my sisters, better than lectures to me though 🙂

    Kir and Norm, I can’t wait until you get to the other side of the island. I want to know all about it. Those were the best memories, when some generous islander invited us to their private spot for fun in the sun!

  4. Perfect……anchor is working exactly as it should! Next time, try and get the bow roller directly over the anchor and slowly tighten up on the chain. This is called “breaking the anchor loose”. A constant upward pressure on the shaft will gradually break the anchor out of the mud.
    Waves help. Tighten up on the chain and when a wave lifts your bow…….out she comes! Keep having fun! Love your blogs!

Comments are closed.

Close Menu