NZ South Island – Shoreline anchoring

Post by Dennis.

Anchoring in the Fiords is a different kind of animal altogether.  I had to anchor the same way when I was in the Fiords of Chile.  But  shoreline anchoring works well whenever you have swing room problems and or in really deep water.  The example I am using is what we had to do when we were in Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound.  It was very deep, 500’ to 1,200’, and at the end was the river which has dumped tons and tons of sand and debris over the last 10,000 years.  The sand delta did not taper into the depths but dropped off very sharply, 60 degree angle or so.  So if you tried to anchor on the slope and the wind came from the river direction, the anchor would be pulled out easily and Landfall would drift out the sound.  I know of somebody that had this happen and they woke up to their anchor chain clanking. They had floated five miles downstream.  So the shore lines are the solution. 

Diagram of Doubtful Sound anchorage and shoreline requirements

Diagram of Doubtful Sound anchorage and shoreline requirements

In Doubtful sound the Delta left a little hole next to the shore and this was the place we could hide.  so for this example this is what we would do:

First I drop the anchor in about 60’ of water fairly close to the sand delta and start backing into the hole.  When I get close to where I want to be I set the anchor then continued to back in.  While I am doing this Barb is in the dingy and  heading toward the shore towing the shoreline that is being played out from the boat.  Once she gets to shore, ties the dingy up and brings the line to shore, she has to find a nice strong tree to tie the line to.  She needs to tie it so that it is not underwater when the tide comes in or to high so she can’t reach it if the tide goes out, just in case we have to leave quickly.  This is when Barb gets nervous and can’t remember how to tie a bowline or can’t get the motor started.  I can’t help because I am busy trying to keep the boat off the rocks.  After she does have it secured I can tighten the line up while Barb makes her way back to the boat.  She takes the next line to shore and secures that too.  Lastly I put the snubber line on the anchor and let out the chain while Barb pulls in the stern line.  The lines are all tweaked a couple more times and we are set for the night. 

Lines, lines, lines and sometimes still not enough for anchoring with shorelines

Lines, lines, lines and sometimes still not enough for anchoring with shorelines

This all sounds really good but I tell you there are a million things that seem to go wrong.  A knot in the line or the realization that the shoreline will not be long enough even though they are 330 ft long. With all this line being drug towards shore, a line can easily get wrapped around the dinghy prop.  We use polypropylene line that floats, but on occasion it still seems to get wrapped up in the propeller.  Shorelines can be slippery or steep or trees can only be found inland after some crawling through thick brush. All this with either a little wind or blowing a gale and a little current to lots of current maybe from nearby waterfalls. What could go wrong! 

But we did get much better at it, having done over thirty anchorages over the last two and half months, and over two thirds of them needing shorelines. How could you not help but get better at it.  Now if we get an easy one where there is a float tie for the stern, we just drop the anchor and back up to the float and loop a dock line through the eye. 

The South Island anchorages always caused us some anxiety, even with the cruising guides. You still never knew what you had to do until you got there and checked it out and no two anchorages have been the same or done in the same way. Very different from South Pacific Island sailing where dropping, setting and snubbing the anchor was all that was required. 

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3 Responses to NZ South Island – Shoreline anchoring

  1. Dave Tillmans says:

    Ever any williwaw’s or low visibility entry’s or snag anything on the hook? Sounds like you have everything handled. No surprise, you two are awesome!

  2. michael says:

    brings back many great memories….including our first attempt at this on Isla de Los Estados before entering the Beagle…..Yikes!
    are you using spools?

    • dennisandbarb says:

      Hi Mike great to hear from you,nice to know someone reads this thing! Know we did not have line spools, it made it a lot harder. I had to play out the lines as Barb ran to shore, just one more thing that could go wrong. Miss having you here

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