Over Christmas i was urgently in need of a break from my normal routine and with my partner working for most of it i decided to get out on the river for a few days and nights so on Christmas morning we took a slow motor up river right up to the head of navigation just before the tidal weir at Gunnislake.  My partner joined me for the first part so we stopped, anchored, had coffee and pressies and then dropped her off back at the boatyard while i headed off more quickly downriver in the dusk.  I thought it would be a calm and clear night but anchored in a deep bend of the river where i would be afloat for the whole tide and where i also thought i would be sheltered from any breeze except a nor-easterly.

Damn but it got really cold really fast so by 18.00 i was sat shivering under my sleeping bag and really struggling to get warm again, hot food was the solution although i was disappointed with the meal that i had : must cover those later.  Without much effective battery capacity and minimal lighting on the boat yet i was just about finished with everything useful that i could do by 20.00 and that is far too early to settle down so tucked under the sleeping bag and a quilt settled to read for a while.  Unpredictably the wind kicked in quite hard , gusty and eddying around the boat unpredictably so it was shearing all over the place on the brisk ebbing tide.  I did consider moving but from where i was its quite a long way to the next shelter so veered more warp and sat tight.

By the time i did settle down it was still blowing firmly but the flood had kicked in so WABI”’ was lying better but still moving about a lot. I looked out several times and then got my head down around midnight. Some time in between than and o600 when i turned out the next morning i could see that we had dragged right across the river into the much shallower side , in fact when i tried to retrieve the anchor i couldn’t do so with the board and rudder down so that was very shallow indeed and the anchor must have moved about 70 yards.  No harm though but a bit of a surprise : it did demonstrate that the anchor i used, one that came with the boat was definitely inadequate although maybe still useful as a kedge.


I can’t say that i got much sailing time but did manage a complete re-stow of the boat inside and some useful work on rig details ‘up-top’.  Something i am working on is being able to reef and anchor from the cockpit after the boat nearly had me overboard earlier in the year while trying to reef during a squall in the river !

Nice to be out though but bloody cold.


  1. Hi Steve, We have the same problem with shearing about, we use a chain warp combination with a danforth anchor. Most of our spots are close in with the board and rudder up and little if any tidal stream so have taken to laying a stern anchor with a long chain and warp. Come in drop the bow anchor set it , let it run with a little astern and drop the stern anchor and even up the scopes seems to work for us.
    I think we shear about so much as the hull has virtually no “grip” once the board and rudder are up so the wind takes over.


    1. Ah : bow and stern, that never worked for the Frances 26 in a tide as she always but always tried to cant across the tide when hanging off the stern anchor and the load on that rode goes through the roof. Thats when i learnt 2 tricks : first using a chum (angel) down the bow warp until it met the chain (mine is a 16 lb kettlebell) or doing a bahamian moor which is very successful in the rivers here where the stream is mainly from one end and then the other.


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