Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Crab, stuck in our anchor chain, Port Browning, North Pender Island, Canada.

Wide-eyed, Wayne rushed inside as he was still pulling up our anchor in Port Browning. I was puzzled. Normally, Wayne directs me from the bow, usually with hand signals, to move the boat left, right, forward or reverse to cleanly bring up the oft-twisted anchor whilst not hitting anything (other boats, the shore, a dock) in the process.

“You gotta see this!” he said, beckoning me with his hand.

A crab was stuck in our anchor chain! Wayne was busy trying to figure out how to get it off, while I wondered if it was legal to eat! 

We were in a somewhat crowded anchorage, in a hurry to get our anchor up and head out. We possessed no Canadian fishing license. I didn’t have a sense for what was or wasn’t legal catch. For example I didn’t know how to tell if the crab was a female, which would need to be released. How small was too small or how large was too large to keep? Were there any toxins I needed to worry about? 

Before I finished processing those thoughts, I suggested Wayne use the long wrench he used to release the anchor chain to nudge the crab claw out of the link that trapped it. Splash! Bye-bye prospective crab appetizer! 

Mud is another gift of the sea we periodically bring up with our anchor.
This muck is from Tongue Point, Astoria, Oregon.

While the crab was a first for us when retrieving our anchor, there are other unwelcome anchor-transported gifts from the sea.

Mud is particularly unwelcome, especially when it’s thick, dark and stinky. Whenever possible, we avoid bringing nasty mud-coated anchor chain into our anchor locker, which rests right next door to one of the sleep areas in our boat, the v-berth. Mud can also stain the heck out of our boat deck.  Fancier boats have hoses to rinse their anchor chains off. 

Prony Bay, New Caledonia’s muddy bottoms stained everything
Oompa Loompa orange. We learned to sail away,
dragging our anchor through the water for a while
before securing it onto our bow anchor platform.

For us, our mud removal options are

  • Dunk the whole mess back into the water
  • Bucket it off as or after it’s getting hauled up (though currently we don’t have a great bucket setup for this, like we did on our sailboat, Journey), or 
  • Make a rare visit to a dock as soon as possible with a hose to rinse it down

Wayne untangling anchored seaweed from Squirrel Cove,
Desolation Sound, July 2012.

Of often wish I was better at salty botany, as we’ve pulled up some whopper clumps of seaweed with our anchor. It would be nice to rejoice in my knowledge of that briny plant, mull over a factoid or two, and maybe even trim some off with a sense for a nutritious delicious meal I could make with it. Instead we either hand-pull off or poke it with a boat hook, freeing it to return it to its aquatic garden.

Unwanted, unintentional aquatic harvest at Tongue Point, Astoria.

Our most ironic anchor catch?

Image courtesy of Creative Commons, as I never got a photo of the one
Wayne hauled up attached to our anchor.

Wayne retrieved another anchor with our anchor! It was summer of 2018 at Sauvies. I was working, and Wayne’s not one with the camera, so no photographic evidence exists of that catch. Wayne has a fanciful imagination, but I know him and boating well enough to recognize that’s one tale he didn’t need to make up. And as we’re not into keeping anything we won’t use, that anchor found its way to another boater.

All in all, we’re grateful and incredibly lucky. 

Our anchor’s delivered some good laughs and minor inconveniences. Amazingly, we’ve never had to dive our anchor to break free of our anchor or chain “fouling” (getting caught) in anything — not coral heads, other anchors or anchor chain, underground cables or any other of a plethora of underwater traps.

We have asked for help retrieving our bow anchor roller when it snapped off. Drew, a less shark-averse and better diving cruising buddy was happy to bail us out

Drew, of s/v Firefly, graciously retrieving our snapped of bow anchor roller
in the shark-infested waters of Suwarrow, Cook Islands, in August, 2015.

Location Location
At the moment we’re in Chemainus, a rare stay in a marina (N48 55.508 W123 42.847) to catch up with cruising friends, Larry and Nancy. Our last anchor surprise, the crab, was two stops ago, at Port Browning (N48 46.474 W123 16.313), off North Pender Island, British Columbia, our first overnight anchorage in Canada this trip. “That looked big enough to keep,” Larry opined. Maybe. Ultimately, it was a lucky Friday the 13th for that crab.