Wednesday 29 February 2012

Sailboat Anchor Performance Differences

The safe anchoring of your sailboat is critical at any time, but takes on a whole new meaning when you are going ashore in a foreign port or destination. When you have your whole life invested in that floating home anchored in the bay, you most definitely want to know that when you return she is still going to be there.

I experienced this heart stopping event one time on a dark night in the Dutch Caribbean island of St.Maartin and the following is the extract from my ebook 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise':

'Nosing into this expansive harbour, circling a huge gleaming white block of flats called a cruise liner for heavens sake, she touches bottom in the marina – boat boy says there is plenty of depth for her two metre plus some keel – Fool!! Now she has a grazed bottom, but fortunately no one else will see, so ‘mums’ the word.

Still smarting over this whilst the crew are libating ashore, of her own volition she moves to deeper water. This translates into a heart stopping incident for the faithful crew returning after dark, who finally locating her amidst awful visions of an early termination of their voyage, next day scour the island for a heavier duty anchor. Proudly sporting it on her nose, she feels vindicated for last nights’ involuntary exploration of the inner harbour.

Sailing out of Phillipsburg Harbour in a spanking breeze round to Simpsons Lagoon on the western side of St. Maartin, she has a chance to make amends......' extract from 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise'

The anchor purchased was a used CQR of 18 kgs. At that time these anchors were considered to be the best available and although this one had seen service, it performed admirably for the remainder of my voyage all the way home to New Zealand and ultimately on to Australia. It even had a slight kink added to the shank in Nuku'alofe,Tonga when it got lodged into a sunken fishing vessel hulk!! This would of course, reduce the integrity of the strength of the shank,but it was so slight that at the time it was considered minimal and certainly did not cause any problems thereafter.

Anchor design, like everything in the marine world improves and we have earlier run postings on this blog of the various improvements in design and holding abilities of the modern anchor. Competitiion is fierce and none more so than between two New Zealand manufacturers, Rocna and Manson.

The following link is worth reading to give you an idea of the holding power of three types of anchor - CQR, Rocna and Manson:

Photographic comparison of Manson plough & genuine CQR (1 MB)
If the second link doesn't open, right click on it and 'select all' and the pdf will open.

Here is another link worth taking a look at

All manufacturers of course are going to highlight the benefits of their products over the competition and one has to take this into account when make decisions for their vessel, their conditions and themselves.

Having said that anchors and anchoring can and do create endless discussion amongst cruising sailors around the dining table, in the cockpit and in the bars ashore at night.

You can read more about anchors and a couple of hilarious anchoring situations in my ebook 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise', downloadable from my website   

Monday 6 February 2012

Epic Sailboat Circumnavigation Completed in a Discovery Yachts 67

My favourite cruising yacht, the Ron Holland design 'Discovery', has once again proven what a magnificent go anywhere passagemaker she is. Stewart Graham of Inverness, Scotland has recently completed his 'adventure of a lifetime' circumnavigation in his Discovery, 'Rhiann Marie'. She comes out of the Ron Holland design office, built by Discovery Yachts of Southampton and is 67ft of pure cruising luxury. She also comes in 55ft and 57ft variants.

Rhiann Marie at anchor in the Maldives
The final 6,000-mile leg of Graham's journey was single handed, he told Sea Magazine, through the South Atlantic winter from South Africa to the Canary Islands. He had to sail away from the coast of Mauritania, where he had been heading to make some repairs after learning of threats of piracy and Al Qaeda activities in the area. He then repaired the boat at sea and experienced a gruelling 600-mile beat into five days of strong winds before finally arriving in the Canary Islands.

The west-about journey has taken Stewart from Gibraltar to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, venturing 10,000 miles across the many remote islands and countries of the Pacific Ocean to Australia, South East Asia, across the Bay of Bengal and to Sri Lanka.

A thirteen thousand mile detour to avoid the Somalian piracy threat took him south to the Maldives, Chagos, Mauritius and Reunion Island before reaching South Africa.

Owner of Highland-based marine equipment, supply and engineering group Gael Force, Stornoway-born Stewart, 47, told Sea Magazine he had been sailing his Discovery 67 mono hull yacht the Rhiann Marie, named after his daughter, since September 2009.

Stewart and Trish
Though finding friendship with people all over the world, he experienced a number of 'threatening encounters', including having the yacht approached at high speed at dawn by a boat with masked men wearing balaclavas, off Columbia. His yacht was hit by lightning in the Caribbean, which destroyed electronics including its essential autopilot system, and he had to cope with storm conditions, high seas, ripped sails and damage to his rigging, plus the constant repairs required to keep a circumnavigation on track, with a minimum amount of sleep.

In February this year, Stewart had eight nuts and bolts, two rods and a metal plate permanently fitted into his spine after an off road motorcycle accident in the jungle in Malaysia. However he was back at the helm just one week after the accident proving his determination to succeed.

Despite suffering the set backs of a broken back and finding that his return route through the Gulf of Aden was a no go zone, due to the activities of Somalian pirates who have murdered other yachts people, Stewart refused to give up, showing characteristic grit and determination in continuing through a Southern hemisphere winter.

Stewart, who took up sailing 10 years ago and now has more than 50,000 miles’ experience, said he had found the journey both physically and mentally challenging.

'It is hard to believe that my two-year adventure has come to an end. The final stage of the journey from the tip of Africa was particularly challenging, however I found the determination to push myself harder as I neared my final destination – home. Family and friends have joined me throughout various stages of the journey and acted as my crew, but sailing the Atlantic single-handed brought new greater challenges, both physically and mentally,' he said.

'The 6,000 miles is almost a third of the circumference of the globe and it was extremely challenging with winter weather conditions. I had to be a sailor, fisherman, cook, plumber, rigger, boat repairer, doctor and navigator and company director all in one. I pushed myself and the perseverance paid off as I completed my circumnavigation.'

'You have to be optimistic and have a great deal of will-power when sailing solo as there is always a new challenge to face. When my sail chafed from the halyard and dropped to the water, it was a gut busting job to recover with only one pair of hands and my injured back.'

Stewart admitted that his wife, Trish, and two adult children were against his plans to sail home solo, but knew him too well to try and change his mind.
Rhiann Marie at Koh Hong
He started Gael Force when he was 18 years old, but always has a desire to sail round the world and decided that he had to undertake the task while he was still physically strong enough to enjoy it.

But before he was able to set sail he had to ensure that he had an excellent team in place to manage and run the business. Stewart kept in regular contact with his colleagues through e-mails and satellite phone where possible – but he readily acknowledges that he could not have undertaken his voyage without the support of his management team and staff at home.

'I would like to thank everyone who has helped and enabled me to complete my journey, not least of which is my wife who sailed 30,000 miles of the journey with me and who accompanied me on the very final leg of the adventure from the Canaries to Gibraltar’ he said.

'We both now have a huge sense of achievement and feel that we need to let the reality and wondrous magnitude of our adventure over the past two years sink in.'

Stewart has written a blog of his two-year journey, which has attracted more than 24,000 readers so far, many of whom have encouraged him to produce a book of his adventures, which he is now considering. You can catch up with his adventures in depth on

You can read much more about passagemaking and repairs at sea in my ebook 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website