April 13, 2012.
Someone wrote with some questions about deploying 2 anchors like we did in Great Sale Cay. So here goes....
When we left Jersey we had never had the need to drop 2 hooks. The tide went up, the tide went down but there was never any current to deal with. If the wind was up, we stayed in the slip rather than venture out on the bay. But once your out and about you have to learn to deal with what Mother Nature steers your way.
Our primary hook is a 66 pound Spade on 200 feet of 3/8's chain. The thing is a beast. I have the utmost faith in this setup and we've slept like babies while others dragged away. But since we carry 4 anchors we never hesitate to drop a second hook the first time I even consider it. Its a lot like reefing your sails. The expert opinion is that if you even consider reefing....do it! Thats the same approach we take with dropping the second hook. Anchors won't do you any good if they aren't in the water. I'd feel like a major asshole if we dragged while we had 3 other hooks just sitting around going for a boat ride.
If I know which way the heavy wind is supposed to come from I have an easy technique that I like to use. If the water is clear as it is in so much of the Bahamas I begin by setting our primary hook just like any other day. We may pay out some additional scope but other than that its the same technique. Then I take our Fortress FX23 and attach it directly to our secondary anchor rode. Its all rope with no chain.
Lets say we have 90 feet out on our primary anchor. I have Christy drive the boat directly up over our well set primary anchor. We go to neutral and come to a stop about 60 feet past the primary anchor. So the set hook is behind the boat. The primary anchor is still set and we haven't affected it other than the chain being dragged up past the hook. This is where I drop the Fortress. I pay the rode out by hand as we drift back. Christy goes into reverse to pull the primaries chain straight while I continue to pay out the rode.
Once I'm sure the chain is straight like it outta be she goes to neutral. Theoretically we have the well set primary 90 feet in front of the boat and the Fortress as a secondary 150 feet off the bow. I pull in the rode and the Fortress has always set within 20 feet. Then Christy backs down on the secondary hook. Once its set I cleat it off so that the chain from the primary is hanging straight down and the entire boat is being held by the secondary hook. Even though the hooks are directly in line with each other they're at least 40 feet apart. This way in the unlikelihood that the secondary hook starts to drag the already well set primary hook will come into play and save the boat.
In Great Sale the sand in the water was so stirred up from the wave action we opted to drop the hooks 45º apart. I didn't want to take the chance of dropping the second hook too close to the primary. I couldn't see the primary so to avoid possibly tripping the primary with the secondary we modified the plan a bit. We dropped and set the primary and then motored off at an angle before once again dropping the Fortress, drifting back and setting it. We ended up with 120 feet of chain on the primary and 140 feet of rode on the secondary so no matter what happened the hooks couldn't get within 20 feet of each other.
I like to use the Fortress as our second hook for a few reasons. Its light and easy to handle. As a directional anchor in a mud or sand bottom its a monster. When we want it to keep us from swinging too close to shore I put it in the dink and drive away while Christy pays out 150 feet of rode. She cleats it off and I drop the hook over the side. I go back to the big boat and hand set the anchor and then re cleat it. The Fortress needs a decent amount of scope to be effective. This need for scope also makes recovery a snap. From either the big boat or the dinghy I just haul in the rode and once the rode nears vertical the hook just pops out. Its hard to believe how the hook that just held our 32,000 pound boat in 50 knots of wind can break free from the bottom so easily. The reason we use all rode is that chain makes manual handling a bit of a pain in the ass.
The Fortress is most effective in either a sand or mud bottom. Anything too hard or grassy and we drop our 45 pound CQR as a second hook. The CQR is much more difficult to handle than the FX-23 and from the dinghy it can be a real ball buster.
In the last 6 years I think we've used the CQR twice and the Fortress perhaps 12 to 15 times. We also carry another, even larger Fortress FX-37 that's never been wet.
If we have 2 hooks down for an extended period of time and as the tide and currents do their thing the 2 rodes may become twisted. Its easy enough to untie the all rope rode from the boat and pass it around the chain rode until its untangled. Or, when anchored in a small tidal creek with 2 hooks I've used the dinghy as a tugboat and just pushed the stern of the big boat around until the rodes are untangled.
I've heard of some people using 2 hooks in series on the same rode but both deployment and recovery is more difficult in both cases. In fact the logistics involved boggle my mind. If its not simple you're not gonna use it. The all rope rode with the Fortress couldn't be easier.
When in doubt, throw 2 hooks out. It only takes an additional 5 minutes to deploy the second hook. Recovery is a snap as well once you've had a little practice. And it sure beats the hell out of trying to kedge your boat off the beach.