Print this page

From the Bilge


Category: General

I have learnt a lot about boating from my father, who learnt from his father, who learnt from his father, who learnt from his.....

In my early youth, my Dad Peter, told me an absolute 'corker' about what can happen when dropping anchor.

In the 1920's my Dad used to load up his 16ft gaff rigged boat with tins of canned food, really lovely stuff like braised steak and onions, camp pie ( commonly known as tinned dog ), baked beans, etc., a couple of loaves of bread, flour for damper, spuds and a few bottles of beer, a block of ice, some fishing lines, gidgees ( spears ) for crays, a kerosene tin to cook the crays, a sweater and a couple of pairs of shorts.

He would take one of his 'scaley' mates with him and set off down the Swan River from Claremont to Carnac, Rottnest or Garden Island and spend a week fishing, swimming and camping on the nearest beach at the end of the days' activities.

In the late 50's I found out what my dad meant by camping. Setting up a tent was too much like hard work, so it was usually a case of just sticking some oars in the sand with a sail draped around to make a semi enclosure and make a 'blackfellas' fire with a few bits of brush or driftwood to warm up the 'tinned dog' and boil the 'billy'. It was always interesting to shine a torch around the beach at Carnac to spot the nice Tiger snakes among the dried kelp nearby. I should never have told Mum about this, as later on she 'cooled' somewhat on the idea of us kids going to Carnac with dad.

Anyway, I'm getting away from this weeks' topic, anchoring.

My old man told me about a trip he once did to Garden Island with an ex school chum named Bill ( we won't worry about the surname here).

They sailed over to a little bay at the North end of Garden Island known as the 'Pig Trough' ( I don't know why they call it the Pig Trough ) on a gentle 'Easterly' breeze.

Arriving at the anchorage in about 15 feet of water, my 'old man' rounds up the boat into the breeze and brings the boat to a stop. Dad sends Bill up for'ard to drop the jib while he deals with the mainsail.

At the same time my father yells out " hey Bill, drop the pick now, mate" and hears an appropriate splash of an anchor on its way to do its' work on the seabed.

Shortly after this point Dad is still busy 'down aft' furling the mainsail and says to Bill " come back here mate and give me a hand with this sail."

No Reply !!! and when my father turns around to see why Bill hasn't answered, Bill has disappeared altogether!

This is a real mystery until Dad looks over the side of the boat and in the pristine clear water there is Bill plain as day on the bottom keeping the anchor company !!

So the 'old man' dives in and rescues Bill who had a very close shave indeed !

Bill had chucked the 'pick' over the side without noticing that he was standing in a coil of rope and you guessed it, this was the anchor rope.

So the moral of the story is: don't just chuck your anchor over the side, make sure the rope or chain is clear or you might wind up in 'Davey Jones's Locker' with the anchor rope around your leg  !!

Happy Boating

Chris Mews


Best wishes from Chris and Lach.