There's a saying amongst boaters that it's not if you run aground but when. The same thing applies to anchor dragging. We have been at anchor here in Portsmouth at the north end of Dominica for the past four days. Following our standard anchoring technique we chose a sandy patch, lowered the anchor into and then backed down while paying out chain. Once we reach our comfort zone of 6 to 1 scope we test to make sure we're hooked and then pull hard with the engine at 1800 rpm for a few minutes. No skipping, no bearing changes and we're set. If conditions permit we then snorkel to have a look at how the anchor is sitting. We haven't become complacent and follow the same procedure every time.
So imagine our surprise when we come back from a walk ashore to see Curare in a different location. One of the boat boys casually mentioned they had to rescue our boat - excuse me?! How did that happen? We're still not sure but two other boaters in the anchorage confirmed that we had definitely been dragging and that the boat boys rescued Curare for us. At first we thought that they must have been mistaken and that we had just set back on our 45 metres of chain when the winds gusted up to 30 knots. We looked at our anchor alarm GPS plot and it did not show us going beyond our 50 metre circle of comfort but it did show us getting hauled over to this mooring buoy. We have to believe that we were dragging.
We are extremely grateful to the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (PAYS) for their diligence in not only securing Curare to one of their moorings but also keeping the entire anchorage safe. They have done a remarkable job of providing good service to yachts with moorings, supplying fresh water, offering tours, water taxi and nightly patrols. These "boat boys" have broken the negative reputation from the past and have excelled in providing great service.
But why did Curare drag? We're not sure as we've anchored many times in strong winds, the holding was good, and we had checked to make sure the anchor was adequately dug in. The only explanation we can come up with is that we left the large sun awning up which likely acted like a large square sail during the gusty winds.