A skipper's nightmare: Tangled anchor lines in the Greek Cyclades

One of my key lessons-learned while sailing for 20-odd years: The better a boat sails, to more she is a bitch to moor.

Aneas, our Solaris40, is a great racing cruiser. We charter her from FastSailing, a great charter company which only has performance boats. "Aneas" is a very light boat, with slanted/kanted short twin rudders, a thin fin keel, a flat bow and bottom. So, when mooring, her bow picks up the slightest of winds easily. When mooring, it is challenging to keep her under control, unless we have 2-3 knots of boat speed, to keep some flow over her shallow rudders, and avoid her from picking up side winds, pushing her down-wind, and out of control.

So, in the best of circumstances, she is a challenge to moor. Leave alone, when things go wrong. Or "unplanned". As in this case... What looked like a normal day to leave port in Naxos (Greek Cyclades) in June 2022, turned out to be a little more of an adventure than what we had anticipated: while lifting anchor, we scooped up the anchor line from our neighbours. (no fault from either, sh*t just happens, when anchor lines are not right in front of the boats)....

We had little room to manoeuvre: 10-15kts wind from the port side once we came out of our berth, boats anchored aft/starboard, rocks at 15 meters on port, and cats at 10 meters in front of us... we needed to untangle the anchor lines fast before we drifted into any obstacles. The crew worked well as team to untangle the anchor lines fast, before we would hit anything: the solution was to tie a dyneema snubber line onto our bow cleat sitting on our bow sprit, loop it into the tangled anchor line, and hold it up while we lowered our anchor, get our anchor from underneath the scoped anchor and raised it again, ... once untangled, and we could then release the snubber line and get going. But we did not have much time, as the boat drifts with the wind. The first attempt did not work (too much tension on our anchor scooping the other vessel's anchor line), but after Mats, at the helm, trickled the boat forward, the 2nd attempt worked perfectly: Tension on the scooped anchor line was released, we could drop our anchor to untangle, and then raise our anchor again, release our dyneema line from the scooped anchor line and free we were. At that point, Mats did wonderfully: he trickled astern to put the stern further into the wind and then went forward to push our bow away from the cats on our bow and towards the entrance of the port. Never a dull moment when sailing! Mind you: no shouting, no panic. Very proud of our crew. And.. our neighbours did exactly what was needed: they dropped more anchor line to give us scoop to lift their anchor line without dislodging their anchor.. Well done, mates, we owe you a beer! :-)... Main video is shot with a fixed camera pointing astern (thanks Mats and Anne), and some video footage shot by Jan from ashore (one of our crew who had just left the boat).


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