Anchor Smile

**30 November 2016**

The weather in the southeastern Caribbean over the last three days has been neither stable nor pleasant.  When we arrived on Sunday we had blue skies and sunshine with steady winds out of the east.  Starting Monday morning the winds shifted to the southeast and the rain began.

For three days now we’ve had rain falling, sometimes a mist and at other times a downpour.  The accompanying winds have come from directions all around the compass, sometimes a whisper and at other times a roar.

Every time we anchor, Carrie marks the spot where we drop on our chart plotter. It may not be totally accurate but it’s close.  Next we back down on the anchor to set it, verifying visually that we’ve dug in.  Then, after we’ve secured the tackle and shut down the engine, we leave the plotter on for an hour or so to mark our movement as the wind, waves and any current tug on the anchor.

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Initially anchored with wind from SE. Winds from the S the following afternoon, then swinging to the NW during the storm

If the anchor is holding, the marks on the plotter form an arc; we call it a smile. Then later on if we suspect that the anchor may have slipped, we can turn the plotter on again to see if we’re on the smile, confirming whether we’ve held fast or not.

Monday night the winds shifted from southeast to the northwest, and zoomed to 25+ knots during a torrential downpour.  Another boat recorded a gust of 39.7 knots during the storm.

With Brilliant’s full weight now pulling in the opposite direction the anchor pulled free and wouldn’t reset itself in the sea grass. We dragged the anchor along the bottom for several agonizing yards, narrowly missing another boat an anchor, before it dug back in.

If our engine had been working properly we could have used it to control our slippage and reset the anchor. Without the engine we had to deploy a second anchor, but in the downpour and the heavy waves it was very difficult to set properly. Drifting helplessly is a horrible feeling.

It made for a very stressful night and we hope to never be in this situation again.