Snubbers, Gypsies and Rode

Dave catches bait fish with a cast net on shore, while Whisper sits quietly at anchor. Little River, South Carolina

Dave catches bait fish with a cast net on shore, while Whisper sits quietly at anchor. Little River, South Carolina

The rode is whatever attaches the boat to the anchor.The windlass is this big dreamy hunk of metal that if you are lucky enough to have on your boat helps to bring your anchor up. The anchor chain and anchor are heavy (and often muddy and gross). The gypsy is a piece of the windlass. It is the part that the chain rides through- the gypsy catches the chain so it doesn’t slip and go back out. When you drop the hook (anchor) and let the chain out, it goes through the windlass (and gypsy). After the anchor and chain are out you attach the snubber. It is a little bridle on the bow of the boat that attaches near the top of the anchor chain and takes the strain off chain rode. As in life, everything on a boat, affects everything else. So when you put the snubber on the chain it also takes the load off the gypsy, thus saving you from replacing the gypsy on your windlass.

We left Lottsburg, Virginia October 16, sailed down the Potomoc, the Chesapeake and into Portsmouth, VA, mile ZERO of the Intra-Coastal Waterway. We had 3 windy days at the dock in Portsmouth. Many bridge passings and a lock later we motored through the 22 mile Dismal Swamp Canal, built under the auspice of George Washington, over 12 years, mostly by slaves, by hand. It was to assist for transportation and commerce. Many runaway slaves stayed in it during their escape years later.

The Dismal Swamp Visitors Center is a stopping point for boats but also one on the highway for cars. On the dock, boats raft up 3-4 boats out so everyone can fit. We were boat #3 on the outside so we scrambled over the other boats to get to the dock. It can be a meeting place for the boaters. At home, Dave and Ava and I are pretty social. (A shout out to our awesome friend web back in Colorado, we love you!) But we have been pretty much on the boat with just the 3 of us, and although we all love each other very much, we all needed a bit of diversion. What a great place to listen to boating stories and laugh. Greg on Paperbird told us of a fisherman lost for 8 days in the South Pacific making a still from two ziplock bags, using tuna heads for bait and catching shark to make jerky. John from the troller explained how boating is either pure monotony or sheer terror. One of the boats on the dock was Piper, a boat with 2 kids on board that I nicknamed Piss and Vinegar, because they are so full of spice and youth. We met them October 25, and have been sailing with them since. Ava has been psyched to have kids around, and Dave and I are psyched to have other adults around!

We are in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina now. We have anchored about 15 times (or less actually). We dragged anchor once in Deltaville. That means the anchor doesn’t really fully catch and we dragged backwards (yes, dragged not drug). In our case, this happened when the wind was blowing it’s hardest in the pitch black of the middle of the night and there was a very expensive yacht anchored behind us that we would hit if we did not do something about it fairly quickly. So we got out of our warm cozy bed that we were not really sleeping in to begin with because we were just laying there listening to the wind howl in the rigging and just waiting for the anchor alarm to go off. It does, of course. So we start our engine at 2 am with no moon in the pitch black and Dave goes forward to bring up the muddy gross anchor and we are free and the wind is blowing 25 and gusting to 30 and I try to give the boat just enough gas to hold us into the winds but not so much we blow into the next boat while Dave sets the anchor again.

Fun, right?

Okay, so we have anchored less than 15 times, so we are not exactly experts. Anchoring has been challenging, to say the least.

The anchor chain has also been a bit of a hassle. When we bought the boat, she had been sitting for about 6 years at the dock. So the anchor chain had been sitting in the same place with just a trinkle of water coming down to the exact same place everytime it rained. This caused 2 links in the chain to deteriorate. We need to fix it. Funny thing, you can’t just replace one or two links in a chain, you need to replace the entire (in our case) 150 ft!

And don’t get me started on anchors. There is the perfect anchor for every bottom. Sand, Rock , Mud. My feeling about anchors is my feeling about lenses for my camera- i want one good one, and I want it to do everything. We replaced the anchor chain and we are hmming and ha-ing about the anchor and whether we need to replace it too. I will keep you posted.

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