Today was a roller coaster of a day! We had fun, panicked for a while, and then relaxed later on.
Today's plan was to drive to Ocean City and spend some time swimming in the ocean and walking along the boardwalk. Then a 25 knot wind blowing through the anchorage threw a monkey wrench into our plan. Maddie really wanted to go to Ocean City and we had decided that we would leave tomorrow morning, so today was the only day that we could go. To calm my concerns about Wisdom dragging anchor and drifting away, I let out some more chain, giving us plenty of scope to hold us still.
We were anchored in 8 feet of water with 60 feet of chain out. Our bow roller sits 6 feet up, so our effective depth for calculations is 14 feet, giving us a scope of 4.3. The bottom in this creek is soft mud, which our Bruce anchor digs into like a champ! We have held fine for the past few days with very strong tidal reversals, but I was still concerned that we might drag anchor with the strong winds while we were away; so I let out 40 feet more of chain, changing our scope to 7.1. The snubber was tied and the anchor was very well set in the mud.
The creek is very protected! 25 knots of wind produced no wave action, but the wind resistance on the boat kept the chain taught. I felt ok leaving the boat for the day during these conditions because I knew that the anchor was well set with plenty of scope and a well tied snubber.
We drove to Ocean City and experienced the typical touristy attractions: walked on the boardwalk, ate some boardwalk fries, played mini golf, and then we got a phone call that changed everything!
The Coast Guard called my cell phone to alert me that my boat was adrift and had been towed to the floating pier of a Campbell's Boatyard. Maddie and I quickly got in the car and drove the one hour drive back to Oxford. The Coast Guard agent didn't have any additional information but we did let him know that we would be there to recover the boat as soon as possible.
Maddie and I began wondering how the pets were doing? Morty, our corgi, and Sammy, our parrot, were locked inside the sailboat while we were away. Maddie Googled Campbells Boatyard and the result that we saw terrified us! I pulled up the sailboats satellite tracker on my cell phone but the last reported position was where we anchored it. According to this, the boat had not moved, but the last ping from the boat was a few hours old, so we figured it hasn't updated yet and the boat must actually be far away from where we left it; otherwise, why would the Coast Guard have called us?
Somehow, we had drifted from the small creek by Oxford, out the creek and down the river! We were very glad to hear that the boat had been recovered but were wondering what kind of damage the boat must have sustained while banging into the pilings that line the creek we were anchored in.
Maddie and I stopped worrying about what might have happened to the boat and instead began devising a plan of how we would get the boat back. We were thinking Maddie could wait at my grandmothers house I row to the boat and sail it back, or my grandmother drive us to the boat and we both sail it back, or set sail from there and return to Fells Point in the morning. Many options filled the air in the car until Maddie cut though the confusion with: "I'm tired and need to get a shower, lets go to your grandmothers house first and decide a plan once we are feeling refreshed." This was a good plan, no amount of talking would get Wisdom back into the creek and she is currently tied up to a pier, not drifting through the river as a navigational hazard and lost to us.
We got back to my grandmothers house and I ran to the shore to see if by some miracle the boat was still anchored where we left her, and there she was! She was still anchored in the same place, not tied up to a floating pier, and not far from the creek! How could this be?
I looked at the marina next to our sailboat and noticed that they had a floating pier with a sailboat of similar size tied up to it, so I rowed over to talk to the marina manager and let him know that the boat he has tied up is not mine and they should contact the real owner to let him know what had happened.
Turns out Campbell's Boatyard has multiple locations, and this was one of them, it even had a floating pier! The marina was closed but I got talking with a friendly sail boater who was tied up on the floating pier. They started telling me how my sailboat "dragged anchor for 200 feet, but hasn't moved in a while". I told them that I had 100 feet of chain out, and when the tide changed, my boat simply swung to its new position. I soon realized that this guy has probably never anchored and that I was wasting time.
When I put all the information together, I figured out what had actually happened today:
- The people who called were the people tied up to the floating pier at Campbell's Boatyard. Not that my boat was now tied up to the floating pier at Campbell's Boatyard, this was an error in communication on their part while relaying information to the Coast Guard.
- The 100 foot scope was a bit excessive, but when the tide changed, the boat swung and drifted 200 feet. 100 feet from where it was resting to be over the anchor, and another 100 feet to its new position.
- The boat never dragged anchor, the anchor had never moved. They must think that dropping anchor is like parking a car, it stays exactly where you put it and will never swing or drift.
Some valuable lessons were learned today:
- Always leave the satellite tracker on, sending a signal, and plugged in. If the boat ever does break loose and drift away, you will be able to find it in the bay based on the updated position reporting.
- Don't panic about things that are far away or out of your control. Worrying about what might have happened to the boat was pointless. If it did happen, worrying about it won't undo the damage. If it didn't happen, worrying about is pointless. In other words, don't worry and just deal with it as it happens.
The day did end on a very positive note, all our pets were fine and we had a good time in Ocean City. We said goodbye to my grandmother because we were going to be leaving very early in the morning with the ebbing tide. For now, we will rest easy knowing that everything turned out ok in the end.