Who Needs an Anchor?

The tide was already coming in as we finished preparing Sadaf for sailing; we had finished the outside work of preparing the anchors, dinghy, and various other tasks. As we floated, we set the mainsail and the genoa.


Leila and I Leaving Port Carlisle

The wind was slight, 2-3 knots, and a sunny warm day, perfect conditions. We got rid of the mooring warp without problems and headed out past the harbour wall, into the main channel. The incoming tide was still strong, although it was getting shallower ever day, and we could not push against it so we ferry-glided across the estuary to Scotland and then back again to England; even so we were being pushed up the estuary and we had to wait for the ebb to bring us back to our original position.

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We did not make a lot of distance and we ran out of tide at Bowness-on-Solway and came to rest on the sands, just below the houses on the hill.
We had a nice walk on the beach to the viaduct and saw a beautiful sunset. We noticed pieces of tree trunks lying in the sand and we had seen some floating while sailing; also a metal stake was embedded into the sand just beyond Sadaf, which would have made a nice hole in the hull if she had landed on it.

We ate using the Trangia stove and then went to bed about 11pm. We woke before 4am and prepared to sail. It was dark and there was a strong easterly wind making out mooring for the night a lee-shore. The lee shore was not as bad as the mooring where I normally keep Sadaf, there it makes life on board uncomfortable, at Bowness it was more on the nose and the waves were hitting and glancing off. It remained dark as the flood tide came in and I decided not to sail as if something went wrong I could not see anything to fix the problem.

So I decided to stay until it was light and see what happened, the problem was I had not weighted the anchor warps and they have a tendency to go underneath the keels and snarl. So I went fore and kept moving the anchors if they looked like they were going under the hull, which they did do on occasions.

I have mentioned before in previous posts that the tides of the Solway estuary are strange, and on this occasion I was amazed to see how the anchors were useless. There was a fast flood tide which should have the anchor warps straining with its pull, but they were slack. We must have been positioned on a border line between the flood and a back current, as Sadaf was not moving (except from side to side) the flood and the eddy were keeping her in one position, no need for an anchor. She had positioned herself stern to the wind (east), with the fore facing into the flood (west), the anchor warps were loose (a Bruce and a grapnel), we just floated caught between 2 fast flowing pieces of water.

Eventually the ebb started just as the light came, we did not want to go further out with the ebb so we stayed anchored and did not sail. Sadaf turned with the ebb and she stayed on her mooring until she dried out, a short distance from the metal spike!

We slept until noon, and I noticed that she had dried out not too far from our previous position of last night. I prepared the boat and waited until 4.30pm when the tide came in. when it came it was a lot sluggish than before. I was wondering if Sadaf would float as the tides were getting shallower each day.

I had positioned the grapnel anchor in deeper water so to pull Sadaf in the right direction when we floated. The plan was to pull on the warp and float us out into the channel while reeling in the warp, but the grapnel warp anchor got snarled amongst the genoa sheet so there was no foresail at first.

With that free we sailed and tacked into deeper choppy water, wind against tide. Our intention was to get back to our mooring with this tide or we might be stranded on the sands for a week. In mid channel we tacked and again the grapnel anchor warp got tangled with the genoa sheets, wrapping themselves around each other making the use of the genoa useless. Stress, frustration and anger…

Once freed we tried tacking several times but the confused sea state (eddies, currents, waves) prevented us. We wanted to miss the harbour area as this had back-currents which would pull us back to Bowness. As we approached the harbour wall the wind died, on came the electric motor which gave us a little more way against the back-current from the harbour wall. I thought we had cleared the wall but we were pulled towards it with this back eddy. With the help of the motor we reached the shore and sailed and motored to the buoy of our mooring.

We dropped the Bruce (our grapnel was no longer possible to use as we had to unfasten it from the boat), but the warp of the Bruce anchor went underneath the hull as the wind pushed Sadaf onto the shore. I tried to back motor but the warp was firmly trapped underneath the hull.

There we sat, stern to the wind, as we waited for the ebb, and when it was shallower I jumped out, freed the warp and slowly walked Sadaf back to the mooring.
I noticed the propeller had come off the motor; the back motoring must have unscrewed the propeller nut. I thought I had lost it for good, but I later found the propeller in the sand, but not the nut.

We ate then slept, and the next morning we packed up and cycled home.

Here are more photos from the sail:

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