Will Your Anchor Hold?

N 32 24.7, W 117 14.5 Isla Coronado Sur

It was a troubling night. The wind had been howling all afternoon and the only anchorage recommended by the guidebook offered little (if any) protection. I put the anchor down in 30 feet of water and paid out 100 feet of chain and 50 feet of nylon line. The rode was bow tight but felt solid. There was no vibration in the line to suggest she was skipping across the bottom. We were a “biscuit toss” from the rocky shore which concerned me. If I let out more line to allow the anchor a firmer bite on the bottom, we would be in danger of swinging into the rocks if the wind shifted to the east. I guess life is full of compromises so after sorting things out on deck, refolding the sails and coiling all the lines again, I finally relaxed enough to take a nap.

It would take a while to sort out all of the sounds. Each of the shrouds made a different sound. The water rushing down the side of our wooden hull and the rudder rocking with the wheel made another. My ears would catch a sound, catalog it and then, satisfied, relax and move on to the next sound. Finally, when they were all sorted out I drifted off to my nap only to wake to the anchor alarm – we had drifted twenty-five feet south. It was to be expected. The faithful anchor was just digging herself in deeper, getting a firmer bite on the island as she dug herself deeper into the sandy bottom. Still, my mind wouldn’t rest so I had to spring out of bed and check for myself. We weren’t headed to the rocks and nothing was in danger of chaffing through. I wrapped some more protection around the anchor line where it rubbed the bowsprit just to be sure.

The winds were howling now: steady at 16 and gusting to 25 or higher. I climbed back into my bunk but my mind ran over the calculations again. 3:1 – three feet of anchor line for every foot of depth – is a good “lunch hook.” 5:1 – five feet of line for every foot of depth – is minimal according to the book. 7:1 – seven feet of line for every foot of depth is recommended. Let’s see, I thought trying to fall asleep. I put out 150 feet of anchor rode in 30 feet of water. That’s 5:1. It’s holding my best anchor, a CQR 35 pounder, with 100 feet of chain and 50 feet of nylon. Not bad, I thought as I drifted off again.

Then the anchor rudely woke me again. We had drifted another 25 feet. With the winds blowing us south, we were in little danger of swinging west into the rocks so I climbed on deck and let out another 30 feet of line making it 6:1. I drifted off to sleep again.

In the morning, the wind had died down to a whimper and as Jan made a great breakfast in our little galley, I thought about anchors. No one can sleep soundly if they are worried about their anchor holding. Is the same thing true on a day to day basis? What is your life anchored to? Do we trust our 401K will be there when we retire or, worse yet, Social Security? Do we trust in our good looks, intelligence, or luck?

For a Christian the ultimate anchor is trust in God. We believe God is real and He cares about us. In fact, we even believe he cares about you.

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