Your ground tackle is one of your most important pieces of safety equipment for yourself and the boats around you. | holisticsailor.com

Tripping at Tribune Bay

During all the years that we have been cruising, we had never anchored in Tribune Bay. We had been to Hornby Island by car several times but this was our first time by boat.

Tribune Bay is completely open to the southeast and is seemingly protected from northwesterly winds, but we had been warned by other boaters to be careful in a strong northwesterly because the wind funnels over the low lying areas of the island and blasts into Tribune Bay.  And so it did.

Trib’s sandy bottom does not always give a secure anchor hold and boats have been known to  drag. We heard one story of a skipper who awoke to an extra quiet morning in the bay only to find himself adrift in the middle of the Strait of Georgia. I am a fair weather sailor and a light sleeper so last night’s wind kept me awake. My husband sleeps well knowing that I do not. At 3:00 am, I finally accepted my state of non-sleeping and crawled out of our cozy bunk.

I wasn’t the only one not sleeping in the windy, moonlit anchorage. The jittery beam of flashlights from other boaters could be seen checking anchors and neighbouring boats followed by a nervous check of the rocky shore. About an hour later, the wind blew itself out and peace and sleep descended upon the anchorage.

Our CQR anchor had dug in nicely but we were still swinging around the chain like a hypnotist swinging her watch side to side.  Our anchor goes off the starboard side and this combined with a 3/4 keel contributes to our activity at anchor. On this trip we noticed a few boats with mini sails off their backstay to help correct their boat’s natural tendency to dance at anchor. I will have to add this to my list of things to make for the boat.

In the light of morning, we surveyed the anchorage and noticed that a few boats were not in their original place. Of the 70 or so boats anchored in the bay one boat was notably not in its place. Hmmn. Maybe they left early?

Tribune Bay, Hornby Island sunset
Tribune Bay, Hornby Island sunset

We had noticed the yacht the day before primarily because it was the largest boat in the anchorage. Sitting in the cockpit of our boat, our conversation inevitably lead to imagining how wonderful it would be to have a large boat that we could host all of our family on. We could show them all the beautiful nooks and crannies that indent the British Columbia coast.

This 86-foot yacht had beautiful lines and would provide a very comfortable trip up the coast.  No. Could that be her? Approximately one nautical mile to the south, there stood the beautiful yacht resting dangerously close to the rocks that guard the bay’s southwestern entrance.

There was no sign of life on the yacht (who will remain nameless to protect the embarrassed skipper).  In these situations I have been told that there is a moment of incomprehension when you try to figure out how all the other boats moved closer to the beach during the night.  Slowly your brain catches up to your reality and you realize that it is you who have dragged anchor.

In this case, a smaller boat (in actuality it was bigger than our boat but in relationship to the big yacht was smaller) was rafted to the yacht. I don’t really understand the practice of rafting boats myself as it puts a lot of strain on the anchor and chain now tasked with holding the weight of two boats in place.

Dragging anchor for boaters is embarrassing. In this case, it was difficult to sneak back into the anchorage unnoticed when you are an 86-foot yacht with another yacht tied to your port side. But to their credit, they did inch ever so slowly back to their original anchoring spot. Personally, I would have chosen another site if the first one did not hold, but hey – each to his own.

Now boaters are some of the most generous people I have met who will drop everything to help you when you need it, but when no help is needed they are happy to watch events unfold as we were doing.

So, you would think this would be the end of the story but alas the beautiful, big yacht dragged again later in the day with the smaller yacht still afixed to its port side. Clearly a lesson not learned.

Equip your boat with the right size of anchor for your boat’s size and weight and inspect the tackle annually. Choose your anchorages wisely based on weather and choose a site within the anchorage that provides the swinging room that you need. If you choose to raft to another boat, make sure that the anchor being used can withstand the addition of the weight of the additional boat. Have fun but stay safe.

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