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Anchored from the propellor


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I am somewhat embarrassed by the content of this post but in the interest of helping other Raiders avoid the problem that I struck some years ago I thought that I would share the following with you.

At the time I owned a 10M Seafarer fly bridge game boat with a single Perkins diesel engine. A great boat and a very reliable motor.

My mate and I went down to the Hump south of Port Hacking to try and find some snapper etc. We anchored up in fairly deep water and proceeded to burley which resulted in us catching a few good reds and other species.

Some hours later we were suddenly hit with a Southerly blow that very quickly created quite rough conditions. We decided to pull stumps and head home. To retrieve the anchor we had the typical buoy retrieval system where you attach the recovery buoy and drive back against the lie of the anchor rope where the rope is run through a big ring attached to the buoy. The anchor and chain eventually come through the ring and stay suspended from the buoy. it is then a simple matter of bringing the anchor rope and ground tackle back in to the boat.

Unfortunately running back against the lie of the rope the boat pitched and bucked pretty hard with the result that I drove over the rope and wound it around the prop. Hence we were effectively anchored from the propeller. BIG problem in a rising sea.

I dived over to try and free the rope but despite many attempts I could not shift it due to the weight of the boat keeping the rope taut. I did not want to cut the rope off as that could have meant drifting without power and no means of re-anchoring. Not a viable option under those circumstances.

After many attempts my mate, an ex Navy clearance diver went over and attached a separate rope to the anchor rope at a point well below the propeller. He then brought the end of that separate rope back into the boat. As we had plenty of scope (anchor rope) out we were able to pull the anchor rope up and refasten it to a stern cleat on the boat.

At this point we were anchored direct from the stern cleat to the anchor and the strain had been taken off the rope wound around the propeller. We then cut the rope between the stern cleat and the part that was wound around the propeller so that we could try to unwind that rope from the prop.

I had numerous tries diving down to try to remove the rope but with little success. In the end my mate managed to turn the prop by hand whilst pulling on the rope and eventually managed to get it all off. At his point were both absolutely wasted and feeling totally spent but happy that we had managed to remove the rope from the prop.

My mate then respliced the cut ends of the rope back together, we restarted the motor and managed to retrieve the anchor without further drama.

Heading back home in the rising sea we had only travelled around half a kilometre when I spied a massive fin on the surface. It was a deep grey,very thick and came in and out of the water for at least 600 mm. Having just spent two hours diving in the water inhabited by what we thought was a massive White Shark we both looked at each other and went "Oh S$#%).

As we got closer we realised that the "White Shark" was in fact a huge Sunfish a harmless animal that nonetheless scared us half to death.

As I mentioned at the beginning this was a most embarrassing experience for me as skipper but I hope that the details of how we fixed the problem may be of some help to anyone who like me inadvertently moors their boat from their anchor.



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Everybody should learn from experience, including that of others. I have done something similar but when returning to the mooring. I was tired and careless and let the dinghy pass to one side of the bow and the mooring buoy the other. The plan was for the boat to sit still long enough for me to grab the buoy or rope with the boat hook over the bow, something I'd done solo lots of times before.

Well the tide had me and I missed the rope and buoy, watching each slide past on separate sides until they stopped right on the stern quarters. Somehow the rope had gone over one freewheeling prop, under the keel and over the other prop and there I hung. So I got the boat hook and plunged head first over the swim platform to try and disentangle it.

Now you'd think that would be enough to this story but as I am lying there dunking my head and swearing a family in a 18ft bow rider had come charging past a couple of times tossing up a good wash and making me really pee'd off. They passed by again, slowed down and crept up to my stern, my annoyance immediately subsided as they'd obviously seen me in trouble and come to help.

Not quite....

"Hey bro!! Where dis da fish and chip place here man?"

You never have a big enough snapper sinker at hand when you really need it. At least I got it free 5 mins later... by myself and after yet another rock and roll fly past.

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Happened to me once but i wasnt driving. Let my friend drive it while i was getting the anchor rope and he drove straight over a rope hanging from a buoy. Wrapped around the prop and came to a halt. I had a long gaff with me, solid gaff and allowed me to poke the rope off the prop. Not as bad as your stories though :)

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Hi Paikea thanks for sharing.The wrap around issue is very dangerous in a tinny in deep water in heavy current because you have to sit in the back of the boat trying to free the line .the boat rear turns into the current. One helpful thing is to attach the recovery ball to the rope direct through its centre rather than by a lanyard reducing the fouling opportunity.cheers wizza

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Timely subject, the boys and girls from MR Hawkesbury had just this scenario crop up recently with a big cruiser. Against all advice the owner went over the cut it free and got so cold and exhausted in less than 10 mins he had to be assisted from the water (unable to get back on his own boat). It was freed with a long stout boat hook.

If you are exerting yourself beware that cold water. Tide, current and work sap your strength so fast it's surprising.

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