Taking a sleeping pill- Anchoring with a Rocna Anchor

Large Rocna on the Bow

People always make fun of our huge anchor on the bow

Until last week, we had never drug our anchor. In fact, we have never even had to try more than once to get the anchor to set. So what works and why did that fail?

On Resolute our anchor setup consists of a Maxwell VWC 1500 windlass, 50 feet of 5/8” 3 strand nylon as the bitter end, 230 feet 5/16” galvanized chain, connected to a 25kg/55lb Rocna anchor.

A few things to point out, we do not use a swivel and have never needed it. The reason behind not using one is because we don’t like having extra things that can break in our setup. We also only have 50 ft of nylon rode because it is simply there as an “oh shit” safety in case we need to let out all our gear and ditch the anchor in an emergency giving us something to cut in a hurry. Lastly, our anchor is huge, in fact, so huge many people like to comment about it while at dock. This is because we like to sleep, sleep is important. I was once told that if people don’t make fun of your anchor, it’s not big enough.

We went with a Rocna anchor because we had heard good things about how they held in nearly any type of bottom and tended to be the choice of most high latitude cruisers who are used to anchoring in unknown sea beds with very strong winds. The main thing here is that it is part of the new breed of “diving” anchors such as Mantus, Spade, and Ultra. All of which are designed to bury deeper and deeper into the bottom the harder the pull.

With this setup we have anchored on rock, sand, mud, and kelp without having a single failure.

A few of the things we do to ensure a strong anchor set are:


1) Never pile up your chain at the bottom, pay it out slowly as you either drift back on the anchor or reverse back.

2) Once you have let out at least (more if stormy) 4:1 with all chain or 7:1 with rope, back down on the anchor increasing the RPM slowly as to help set the anchor. Once you are not moving (keep a foot on the chain to feel dragging) give it some more throttle and hold it there for some time 10 seconds or so.

3) Once you are satisfied all is well, hang out on the boat for another hour to see how the boat is riding (i.e. not hitting your neighbor!) and make sure the anchor holds with wind shifts.

4) If the water is warm, jump in and see what the anchor is doing! How did it set? Is it near rocks or coral?

Diving the anchor

Diving on the anchor to check how it set is the best way to know what is going on down there

Some things not to do while anchoring:


1) Throw all your chain, anchor, and line over at the same time in a big pile.

2) Put out too little scope. We often see people putting out hardly 2:1 scope, and with rope rode at that!

3) Have too small an anchor

4) Leave your boat right after anchoring

5) Forget to check for chafe points on rode

6) Not have the bitter end tied to something

7) Leave the load on the windlass, tie to a cleat using a snubber line

So what went wrong for us this last week?


Well a few things really. We were in Lahaina anchorage on Maui, HI when we were forecast to receive higher winds possibly up to 45 knots. So what did we do, nothing. So complacency was a big factor. I know I just got done preaching about proper anchoring. But what we have noticed is that our setup holds very well. We had 5:1 scope out because the anchorage was deep at 42 ft. And we knew our Rocna holds very well in sand.

The winds held over 30 kts for around 48 hours with periods of sustained 40+. The gust that drug us was 51 kts and our anchor simply pulled a trough around 50 ft through the sand. At this point we let out another 50 ft of chain increasing our scope to around 6:1 and lengthened our snubber line to help absorb more of the shock loading. This held for the remainder of the blow.

I dove the anchor to find out just what had happened the next day and noticed that despite the anchorage looking like nice sand, it was only about 1-2 ft deep and must have had a rock bottom which did not allow the anchor to continue deeper and provide a firmer set.

Rocna anchor in sand

Our Rocna buried in the sand. You can see the drag mark to the upper part of the screen from the 51 knot gust

Our craziest fishing stories so far

We are nearly always dragging a lure behind Resolute. And why not, plucking your dinner straight from the sea just before dropping the hook in some secluded anchorage, who hasn’t dreamt of that at some time or other? We are not huge fisherman, our fishing tackle mostly consists of a few hundred feet of 100 lb test line, some different colored squids and the Cuban yoyo hand line. Despite this, we have been very successful in catching fish on practically all our passages. I think the secret is our pink squid!

We have a couple of catches that stand out from the other more normal tuna, black skipjack, dorado, etc. Our first was while leaving La Paz, we were around 3 miles outside of the entrance channel on a gently sloping sand shelf in around 40 feet of water when Meagan yelled “Fish On!!!” to me down below looking at our charts for the day. We did our usual, reduce sail to spill speed, drag the fish for a little while to tire it out and then begin hauling in on the hand line little by little. After what seemed like quite awhile, as this fish was fighting harder and a little different from others we caught previously, we saw our first glimpse of the tell tale shark fin. Hmm, “this might get interesting” we said to each other at the same time. Once getting the little shark alongside the boat we got a great view of this guy’s infamous shark teeth as he angrily snapped and thrashed trying to bite that pesky lure just inches in front of his cat like yellow eye.

After a little powwow and looking at how the lure was stuck in his jaw we decided the best course of action would be to slide a sharp knife right down the hook and slice open the flesh on his lips as he had not actually hooked any “bone”. This would hopefully leave us with our lure and him without a large hook or line trailing from his jaw for several days. If not making it harder for him to catch more food it would at least make him less attractive to the females I imagine, and I would hate to be the cause of that. The plan worked flawlessly and our little companion wasted no time sending a jet of water right into our faces as he muscled his way down to deeper and safer water.

The second time we were outmatched was when crossing from Guaymas on the mainland side of Mexico to Bahia de los Angeles on the Northern Baja Peninsula. We had around 60 feet of line out and were passing through the salsipuedes channel , a narrow channel renowned for its fast currents and funneling winds. Once again the call was made for “all hands to battle stations, fish on!”. I began pulling in and wham, “whoa, now this is a big fish or we just hooked the bottom” I said to Meagan, blue faced and straining to not loose my tenuous, sweaty grip on our severally outgunned hand line. I think at one point Resolute may have gone backwards, we will have to consult the GPS track for confirmation.  A little more fruitless panting and heaving on the line and we had gotten the behemoth to with, oh wait, we had given him another 40 feet putting our total line out to around 100 feet. It was at this point we we graced by one of the most amazing sights you can see, a beautiful sail rising out of the water and slicing the waves in front. We had caught a Marlin!! With a little more renewed vigor we managed to pull this 5-6 foot thrashing fish to within 50 feet of the transom when I nearly fell backwards and over the lifelines. “What was that?” I coughed as I began cautiously pulling in on the line again. We though the fish must have spontaneously died as there was clearly something on the line still but there was no fight left in him. The answer was soon revealed as we pulled the near zombie like remains of a Jack onto the side decks. The only explanation being that we had caught our Jack friend moments before he had been swallowed down and partially digested by our much larger Marlin friend. Fortunately for us, we were saved the head scratching of trying to figure out just how to get a 100 lb angry Marlin onto our boat without one of us being lanced through the stomach.

Any help identifying the shark species would be greatly appreciated by the way, my best guess was a small lemon, by I am the last person I would ask about such matters.


shark on the lure

Lifting the shark out of the water

Thrashing shark

Shark getting angry at the lure

zombie fish

Fish looking like a zombie after being inside a Marlin stomach

Life in La Paz, Mexico

Life in La Paz is easy, days full of swimming with whale sharks and eating street tacos, nights filled with eating street tacos and good beer, and finally ending with melodic music drifting down to your bed through the open hatch boards. After the open roadstead anchorages of Western Baja and the wild and crazy lifestyle of Cabo San Lucas, La Paz is a welcome change of pace and a fantastic place to get settled into life in Baja for the cruising sailor.

We spent almost three weeks exploring the sights of La Paz. And to think when we arrived we told people we would be gone in one. In cruising, changing plans is a way of life, plans are formed and reformed as fluidly and as often as the waves strike our hulls. We met some of our closest cruising friends in La Paz. Some of whom we would spend the majority of our summer in the Sea of Cortez anchored next to in the same harbors.

Swimming with whale sharks a dinghy ride away

Swimming with whale sharks a dinghy ride away

Sculptures on the malecon

Sculptures on the malecon

Sculptures on the malecon

Sculptures on the malecon

Sculptures on the malecon

Sculptures on the malecon

Flute lessons put on by our friends on s/v Orion

Flute lessons put on by our friends on s/v Orion

Roadside shrine

Roadside shrine

Roadside shrine

Roadside shrine

Exploring the mountains in sierra la laguna

Exploring the mountains in sierra la laguna

Typical street menu, changes often

Typical street menu, changes often

Fish taco meal

Fish taco meal

La Paz malecon at night from Resolute

La Paz malecon at night from Resolute

Enjoying the benefits of a few nights at a marina

Enjoying the benefits of a few nights at a marina

Beautiful street art around the city

Beautiful street art around the city

Beautiful street art around the city

Beautiful street art around the city

Beautiful street art around the city

Beautiful street art around the city

Beautiful street art around the city

Beautiful street art around the city

Beautiful street art around the city

Beautiful street art around the city

Cabo San Lucas to La Paz: A Photo Essay

Since we’ve been a little preoccupied with the hurdle of creating our first sailing vlog (video log) episode 1 Resolute Sets Sail, the blog has been a touch neglected.  So please if you haven’t already watched our first episode check it out and if you like what you see Subscribe (there is a link at the end of the video or you can select the red button beneath the video if you’re watching in YouTube).

We sailed from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz stopping in Los Frailes for some incredible sunsets and balmy hikes with expansive views.  We used our pole spear for the first time and were rewarded with several nights of tasty reef fish appetizers.  Continuing north we bashed into 20 knot winds with the aid of the Sea of Cortez special, steep, short period waves.  Add to the conditions a strong current counter to the winds and it made for a rough and tedious day.  Poor planning, but chalk it up to another little adventure!

As for the rest, I will still my ceaseless ramblings for a change and let the photos do the talking…

Erik… you’re up:

S/V Resolute at anchor

Nikka enjoying the hike up from Los Frailes anchorage


S/V resolute Erik and Nikka

Nikka and Erik enjoying a cooling dip after a HOT hike


Baja, Mexico, cactus

Plenty of these guys around, careful what you touch


Small mackerel

Small mackerel we caught with the hand line


Black skipjack mackarel

A very large Black Skipjack, excellent dark meat like a steak


Baja Fish tacos

Our meal staple. Fish tacos straight out of the Sea of Cortez


Shade tree

The ONLY shade around


Beach life with a dog

Nikka enjoying a little beach life, sporting a nice lifejacket too


what lies beyond

Meagan wondering what lies beyond


beach walking

Meagan and Nikka enjoying a sunset stroll on the beach at Bahia de Los Muertos



open air bar

Meagan enjoying the wifi at the open air bar

Cascade 36 no longer for sale

I’ll introduce you to our new boat. Her name is Resolute. She is a finicky girl with a young heart and a strong weathered body. She was born in Portland, Oregon in 1975, 36 feet long, 13,000 pounds.  She is a Cascade Yacht who has spent the last nine years circumnavigating the globe. As our yacht broker so eloquently put it, she’s proven.

She has not the flash of a new polished Jeanneau, but she carries herself in a way that says, “I can cross that ocean, can you?” There are many projects to keep us busy over the next few months and I will be trying to document most of them here on the blog. My Dad has flown in to San Francisco to help out while the boat is being pulled out of the water for bottom paint and new thru hulls, etc. So busy busy is the buzz.


The brokers motoring her in for the survey



First views of the under belly



In the slings for the survey


2014-04-02 11.08.52

View from the top of the mast


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Buying a boat and other setbacks

Sooo, Meagan and I have been keeping quiet lately but for good reason. We have had a lot going on. It’s a wonder we have any hair left on our heads and that not all of it is grey yet! Not all of it anyway.

Over the last few months we have made a lot of changes. Getting accustomed to the fast paced, traffic dominated lifestyle of the Bay Area, not the least of them. After the holidays and the many great visits with family and friends we had early in the new year, we faced our first major setback. What felt like food poisoning soon revealed itself to be something much more sinister. After seeing my text, “I Need Help. In  Bathroom”, Meagan ran to the Marina’s men’s restroom and found me nearly incapacitated on the shower floor.  Even without health insurance it didn’t take us long to decide a visit to the nearest hospital was in order. Especially when the symptoms I relayed to Meagan matched word for word the symptoms of appendicitis in her trusty WebMD app.  A short but excruciatingly painful car ride and a few tests later we were prepping for surgery. It only took a whopping six hours from the first grumblings of stomach upset to laying on a gurney counting backwards to oblivion with a tube shoved up my nose.


When I woke, we knew we were in a world of hurt (financially). Luckily I now had my health back and that was a relief. Our healthcare system being what it is, we had to wait several weeks for the multiple bills to start circulating in. $1668- surgeon, $632- ER doctor, $570- lab work, $1620- anesthesia, $35,000 hospital, wait, WHAT!! Yup, in all the total bill was looking like it would be near the $40,000 mark. Hmmm, Fuck. So began the work of finagling with all the billing agencies, pleading for assistance, and luckily receiving some. In the end our bill appears as though it will be significantly reduced, but still enough for a down payment on a modest home. Below is the inside of our MacGregor during some tiring evening trying to figure out how to not end up in the poor house. (Or are we already there?)

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The more exciting news is that we have taken this time to buy, yep I said it, buy, another larger boat and fix it up. In the mean time Meagan has successfully landed a project geologist position at a localish environmental engineering firm and I have begun recovering physically and am currently looking for work while doing all the prep work on the new boat. Life sure keeps us on our toenails!


Spoiler alert, the new boat is below. It’s a Cascade 36 cutter. More to follow…



Real-time Global Wind and Ocean Current Map

Earth global wind patterns


Want to be mesmerized by global wind patterns? No? Well maybe you will change your mind after taking a look at this great site. This nifty tool can be used to view earth’s wind patterns in real time using visually stimulating graphics. Not only can you view surface wind, but you can also take a look at ocean currents and temperatures by simply clicking on the earth logo in the lower left. Want a better way to visualize trade winds? Need to see how global wind patterns influence local weather? This may help.


I have just stumbled across this site but can already see its potential as a very useful tool for planning on our upcoming sailing adventure.  By getting a global view of weather patterns and wind intensity, it gives you one more tool to add to your weather toolbox. It’s not like you couldn’t do this before, just not in such a fun way! Have fun and enjoy this great tool…


Earth wind navigation




San Francisco skyline

panorama of san francisco

Here is an image taken from our friend Debbie Miller’s back patio. It is a fantastic view filled with the sounds of gently crashing waves and bird calls. It also illustrates many of the locations Meagan and I have been fortunate to visit and sail near including: alcatraz, the golden gate bridge, the bay bridge, Sausalito, and the San Francisco wharf.

Windy Mountains to Windmills

Driving all the way down from Alaska to Florida in nine days is a form of time travel. In the beginning we found ourselves in the middle of the winter’s first snow storm. And at the end we had successfully navigated through all the stages of fall and into the perpetual summer of Florida.

One thing I have heard said a lot and never agreed with is that wind generators are ugly. Hopefully this image helps to change people’s minds and shares the beauty that I think wind farms create. Taken around sunset somewhere in Kansas.

wind generators at sunset

A beautiful promisealaska mountainsWinter is comingsnow on the spruceSnow between spruce