Question: Is it true that the anchors of large vessels need to be cut if they're stuck?
A boat's anchor is designed to drop to the bottom of the sea and hold the boat in position, whatever the weather. This is partly accomplished by it's weight (anchors are very heavy!), and partly accomplished by its shape. The flukes (the pointy bits on the end of the anchor) dig into the seabed to hold the boat securely in place. Unfortunately, the flukes can also catch under rocks - resulting in a boat that is held a little too securely!
Turkish Gulet Arkadaslik is a 22 meter wood gulet, capable of comfortable carrying 10 guests plus crew. It's bigger than most yachts, but very small compared to a cruise liner or cargo ship. We have experienced two "really stuck" anchors aboard Arkadaslik over the past few years.
The first happened when another boat fouled our anchor in the small harbour at Kaş. Shifting the boats around simply made the tangle worse - like underwater macramé! Fortunately, a local scuba school offered their services and the divers were unable to untangled the twisted chains in about 15 seconds.
The second incident occurred in really rough water while we were at sea. Our new sailor forgot to clip the safety line after raising the anchor and big wave hit the bow, which caused the winch to dislodge. Anchor, followed by 170 meters of heavy chain dropped to the bottom of the Mediterranean in about 20 seconds, and immediately snagged on the rocky bottom. Captain Oktay tried a variety of maneuvers to get us "unstuck", but was not successful.
Normally, raising the anchor is an easy, straight-forward process.
At this point, we were actually facing two separate issues - a stuck anchor and a failed anchor winch. We considered various options and ultimately decided to "cut loose" (with an angle grinder). Had the water been shallower, we would have marked the anchor and chain with a buoy and hired a commercial diver to retrieve them. But, 170 meters is a deep retrieval and, had we been able to find qualified divers, would likely have cost a small fortune.
We purchased a used 70kg anchor and 120m of good quality, used 14 gauge chain for just under 3000TL (approximately $1500). The sailor will never make the same mistake again, so I consider the cost an investment in his future.
Have you ever had to "cut loose" at sea? We'd love to hear your story, comments and feedback. Feel free to send us an e-mail to connect. And, if you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it on social media!