Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Slow your Roll!

This is what the swell bridle looks like in practice.  Notice the whitecaps on the horizon?  The ocean is just around that point!
When we left Chicago (as total cruising newbies) we, or at least I, had this vision that all anchorages are protected, cove-like, calm and serene.  For those of you out there who think the same - this is false!  Not all anchorages are created equal!  While there are the rare few that offer all around protection, most do not - and oftentimes you'll find yourself dropping the hook in a place that feels like your bobbing out in the middle of the ocean somewhere.  This is not fun, even in paradise.

There are a number of reasons for this.  Wind direction is the most obvious - as this is what you want to be protected from.  So you find an island or a cay that will block you from that particular direction.  Considering there are hundreds of islands and cays around here, this is not a problem.  The problem, we are learning, is ocean swell.  I don't have the scientific reasoning for this - but basically, it works like this:  the western side of the Bahamas is protected and (relatively) calm, the eastern side is exposed to thousands of miles of ocean and is not.   Huge underwater waves (or swell) can wrap around these islands and make their way to you, causing a seemingly "protected" anchorage to be rolly and very, very uncomfortable.  If the swell is coming from a different direction from the wind (a boat almost always points the direction of the wind at anchor), it can become unbearable.

Such is the case here at Calabash Bay.  Luckily for me, a) I have a teflon enforced stomach and do not get seasick and b) I married someone who sees a problem and finds a solution.  We were sitting down below, pitching and yawing, rolling and bobbing when Scott said, "This is downright miserable".  I had to agree.  He then said (what are becoming his famous words), "When there is a problem, there is a solution..." and up on deck he went.

What he did was make what Bruce Van Sant calls a "swell bridle" and this thing makes me want to marry Scott all over again.  On a boat, being comfortable is in direct proportion to being happy.  Here's how it works:  You attach a line to your anchor chain (or rode) and then bring it back to an aft winch and cleat to secure it.  You then let out more anchor chain (or rode) until your boat is positioned into the swell.  We are now sitting at a very comfortable 90 degrees to the wind, and directly into the swell - a much more pleasant motion.

Here is a diagram in case my words don't make sense:


So instead of up and moving to another spot - just use this method and slow yo' roll!

9 comments:

Neophyte Cruiser said...

And it beats the hassel of setting a stern anchor. Good on Scott!

TheLandlubberWife said...

1. That blue water is BEAUTIFUL

2. That's a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

Albert said...

Now that's cool. Did Scott just dream this up on his own. Always the engineer!

alex rooker said...

Taught me a new one.

Nicki said...

My friend, Lisa Hanneman from the YMB, sent me a link to the blog. I've been reading for a few weeks. Thought you might want to know that you inspired our next adventure. Maybe we'll actually meet one day in the Caribbean.

Keep the instructions and inspiration coming!

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Thanks so much for going into detail about this! As beginners, this is a post that we'll refer back to. Great information!

Neil said...

Great blog post! We've just discovered this little gem and we'll definitely employ it in our next rolly anchorage. Quick question for you... what is the benefit of doing this over setting a stern anchor? Is it only that you don't have to go out in the dinghy to set the additional anchor? My concern, and I'd love your insight, is that by repositioning your boat broad to the wind like this is that you put further load on the anchor and risk potentially dislodging your anchor. The benefit I'm imagining, and again, would really love your insight, is that a stern anchor takes the load of the wind and if that dislodges, you are still safe with the primary (though rolling). Looking forward to reading your reply and thank you in advance!

~Neil & Jessie (S/V The Red Thread)

Dave Block said...

The solution to this problem is simple. Multihull. Superior sailing, supeior comfort, simply superior.

Jim said...

Great solution any other solutions to problems we experience??

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