September 7, 2010

Anchoring without harm

LAST YEAR ABOUT THIS TIME I was pulling up the anchor on my boat when I injured my back. I herniated a disc. It was my own fault, I guess. What actually happened was that the shackle that joins the chain to the rope got stuck in the bow roller. I was in a hurry to get the anchor up, because we were too close to another boat, so I impatiently gave an extra-hard jerk on the line instead of leaning over to ease it through by hand. The shackle popped through and at the same time a vertebra in my lower back went pop, too. It pressed against a nerve, and my right foot went numb.

I’m happy to say that my little injury has now mostly cured itself, as most injuries to the body do, given time; but I still give much thought to the universal problem of raising the anchor, especially when you’re singlehanded.

You can use a winch to extract the anchor from the seabed, but as soon as it comes free, your boat will start to drift, most likely sideways into the anchored boat alongside you. The winch is just too slow for the distance the anchor must travel from the seabed to the bow roller. You need to be at the tiller and mainsheet or engine controls immediately the anchor comes unstuck. So you have no option but to haul it up by hand as fast as you can.

But the answer is simple. It was suggested in a conversation I had the other day with the owner of a MacGregor 26. It is the lightweight anchor. The very lightweight anchor. Not one of those aluminum things.

I have refined the concept and invented the Vigoranka Collapsible Anchor. It weighs almost nothing. It saves space. You can fold it up or crush it into a tiny space without harming it. It is going to revolutionize anchoring as we know it.

The Vigoranka© works on the principle that water is very heavy in air but light in water. So all you have to do is lower the sturdy plastic Vigoranka into the water and let it fill. It will hold 75 pounds of water. Now when you consider that a 35-pound CQR will hold a 32-foot sailboat in almost any conditions, you can surely see the advantage of using an anchor that weighs more than twice as much.

But you can easily raise it to the surface by hand, and as it comes out of the water you simply flip a little switch and all the water drains back out into the sea, allowing you to bring the Vigoranka aboard with one hand and no strain whatsoever.

Frankly, I am amazed that no-one has thought of this before. But then, no-one thought of Twitter before Twitter was invented, and now the world is just full of tweets everywhere. Which just goes to show you.

Today’s Thought
The wonder is always new that any sane man can be a sailor.
—Emerson, English traits

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #91
Fuel tanks. Deep, narrow tanks aid in stability when your boat is rolling. The long dimension should lie in a fore-and-aft direction. Large tanks need internal baffles to stop fuel sloshing forcefully from side to side.

“How’s the bird breeding going?”
“Great. I just crossed a homing pigeon with a parrot.”
“What for?”
“If the pigeon gets lost it can ask the way home.”


Todd said...

I checked my calendar and today's not April 1st!!! So this must be using a "completely new physical law". I look forward to the updates for my old physics texts.

Oded Kishony said...

You missed the most obvious strategy, just add a magnet to the anchor, the metal parts of the boat will be attracted to the magnet and propel the boat forward. Really !