One of our big goals for this season is to anchor overnight, and get comfortable doing it. The key for our cruising plans is to be able to spend 99% of our nights on the hook, so this is an important skill for us to develop.
The forecast for the weekend of June 6th was calling for two days of winds from the north – very unusual for this time of year. Initially we had planned to anchor for an afternoon, and then if it went well try an overnight another time. Earlier that week I suggested to Jeff that we just go for it. Anchor for the afternoon and if we were feeling comfortable, just stay the night. He was up for that idea, so the next task was to find a place to anchor.
We have several spots in mind that we want to go this season, but they were all selected with the thought that we’d have the prevailing southwesterly winds. Since these winds were going to be from the north, then clock around to the southeast, then back to the north again, they weren’t going to work. The winds weren’t going to be heavy at all, but we wanted to find somewhere that would give us protection for all of the forecasted directions.
We checked out Active Captain and found a potential anchorage near Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic – Black Point. It wasn’t a place that we would ever stay at in a southwesterly, but it was well protected in the north and east. After another check of the weather on Saturday morning, we decided to go for it.
We had a nice, short sail of a bit over 8 1/2 nm, and found ourselves dropping the anchor shortly before 2:00 in around 12 feet of water. 12 feet plus 3 feet of freeboard at a 7:1 scope had us letting out around 100 feet of rode. We realized a few hours later than we had forgotten to account for the tide, but at only 3 feet and with light winds in the forecast, we decided to stick with the 100 feet.
Once we were sure that we weren’t going anywhere, we mixed some cocktails to celebrate achieving our first time at anchor. I was PSYCHED! It was a beautiful area. There was a private beach but no one was on it because it was cloudy and cool, and the silence – so rare in Connecticut – was wonderful. We could hear the waves gently washing up onto the beach. It was easy to envision doing this in the Caribbean some day, hanging out in an anchorage all by ourselves.
We grilled up some dinner (and were immediately joined by a seagull who waited in vain for Jeff to accidentally drop some food into the water), enjoyed a pretty sunset, and headed off to bed.
The forecast held true all night with calm winds, although there was a bit of a swell when the tide rolled in making everything a bit rolly for a few hours. Jeff slept like a rock. Me, not so much. Even though we had set an anchor alarm on the iPad, I was having a hard time believing in it. I was listening for different sounds, looking out the window to see if we had dragged, looking at the iPad to make sure it wasn’t running out of juice. In hindsight it was ridiculous. We had dropped the anchor in grey mud and hadn’t moved an inch. But, this was a rite of passage that I guess I had to go through. We’ve been watching YouTube videos posted by this young guy fresh out of college named “Wes” who sailed from Massachusetts, down the ICW, and across to the Bahamas with his girlfriend. “Wicked Salty” is the name of the series. He said that for the first several nights at anchor, he barely slept. Then he finally got so exhausted that he slept anyway. That’s when he knew it was time to start trusting the anchor. I’ll get there. Maybe next time.
The next morning was chilly but with bright sunshine. We took the dinghy to do a bit of exploring (still rowing – that darn outboard is about to be history), relaxed, and waited for the wind to start picking up so we could hopefully sail home.
Jeff wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to raise the anchor (we don’t have a windlass, so I’m calling him the “human windlass”), but it was easier than he anticipated so he was pleased about that. He successfully shook the mud off of the chain and anchor so the foredeck didn’t get too filthy, which was good. Given our plans for a bigger boat, an anchor wash is not on the “to do” list for Pegu Club.
The winds filled in a bit but they were unfortunately right on the nose the whole way home. We would have tacked back but we had a lot of things we needed to do once we got back to the marina, so we reluctantly ended up motoring back. At least the battery is fully charged now!
All in all it was a VERY successful weekend, and we’re looking forward to many more nights in quiet anchorages this season.