(Em)Bed-Well Harbour: Too Much of a Good Thing

Gin and Tonics at our anchorage in Bedwell Harbour
May 13, 2015

I have entered Canadian waters at Bedwell Harbour twice, and I have nothing but nice things to say about Canadian Customs.  Polite, considerate, and effective service, and if you arrive after hours, you can get clearance over the phone (as is true for all marine Canadian points of entry as far as I know).  We got in about 1800 hours, and I did the phone check-in.

On a previous occasion, I'd stayed at the marina there, which is quite nice, and affords access to showers and even a swimming pool.  But we wanted to leave early, and the guide books say that the holding in Bedwell is very good (sticky mud), so we dropped the hook, had gin and tonics, made dinner, and went to bed after a 55 mile day.

This was my first use of my shiny new Rocna 9 kg Vulcan anchor.  I elucidated my motivation for buying this anchor in a previous post, and everything I said about it there, I still believe.  It is a great anchor. It is such a good anchor that in the morning we could not get it out of the mud.  I was enjoying having my Marine aboard, eager and willing as he was to do deck work, so he was on the bow, hauling in the rode as we prepared to leave the harbor.

When the nose of the bow was pretty much directly above the anchor, Mathias could not get it to budge from the mud.  No problem, I said... I'll motor it out! I went up to 2500 RPM (cruising RPM), and the bow... well... bowed.  We became a tethered pond toy, spinning in a circle around the axis of the anchor rode, the bowsprit now pointing down as the bow was pulled down sharply.  We did manage to get the anchor up, but it was a struggle.

I had too much anchor for the boat.  That was the first and only time I've used that anchor, and in fact I decided to sell it when I returned.  I've since reconsidered this, and the Vulcan is now a designated storm anchor, to be used in situations where one just isn't enough... and if you lost it, you might be grateful to have saved your boat for such a modest expenditure.  Day three, crisis three.  Not a big one, but it did make me think about how I would have managed alone, and reminded me that reading, researching, and reasoning isn't the same as practical experience.  I had gone to considerable effort and expense to equip my boat with what I believed safe and effective ground tackle.  And had gone too far.

I returned my 7.5 kg Bruce anchor to its rightful place as primary anchor and lashed the Rocna to port-side anchor shiv. Sometime later, I rigged the Vulcan with a rode so it was ready to deploy, so as to be able to set both in a real blow.  I never had to do it, though one night I considered it pretty seriously.

Lessons (re)learned:
  • As Marshall Rose, the father of modern e-mail systems famously wrote: The difference between theory and practice is greater in practice, than in theory.  Reasoning is great, but try things out.


  1. I wouldn't give up on the Vulcan yet. I've heard nothing but good things about Rocna and Vulcan anchors.

    The Vulcan supports a retrieval line which you can attach with a small buoy. That could help a lot with getting it unstuck from mud.

    9kg (20 lbs) really isn't that much though, and I'm surprised you had it so stuck. Maybe it was actually fouled on something? Anyway, one test isn't enough to conclude this would happen every time - maybe try it in some other anchorages?


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