Oblivious anchor dragging, & Camden chart update


I’m generally quite reluctant to fault fellow boaters when things go wrong, because I’ve made about every mistake possible myself at some point, and probably will again.  But what I hear about this scene, captured in part on YouTube, is a bit disturbing.  That big beautiful trawler didn’t actually drag onto the rocks around Northeast Point, but that’s probably only because crews from from Wayfarer Marine, Yachting Solutions, and the Harbor Master’s office worked hard to hold her off, in pouring rain and lots of wind.  A local hero even managed to squeeze his way through a pilothouse window, figure out the complex starting procedure, hoist the anchor, and put the boat safely on a dock.  But the owner, who showed up after the storm had passed, was apparently somewhat casual about what happened, though most boaters would know that a salvage claim was a possible road not taken by the rescuers, and…

…The next day, he purportedly drove that big, beautiful trawler right over the tide covered Northeast Ledges as he exited Camden Outer Harbor!  Note the ledges on the Coastal Explorer chart screen below; while it’s true that an occasional boater gets confused about the two channels with sometimes hidden danger in between, the vast majority get in and out of here fine.  I’ve also indicated where the trawler, purportedly anchored on only 86 feet of chain, dragged. The whole incident is a reminder that, in this country at least, you can own a boat like that without a license or any experience, which is why smart insurance underwriters won’t write policies in such situations.  A lesson for a lot of us is the value of leaving your boat accessible, and with operating instructions in an obvious place, so that someone like our local hero — a consummate boat driver with a number of saves under his belt — might help you out when you’re not around.  That idea may run counter to some people’s security needs, but I have an idea on that subject I’ll explain next week.
   Note also the 7/22 Update date on the NOAA ENC below.  That’s because NOAA quickly fixed the Inner Harbor shoreline detail mistakes I pointed out earlier this summer.  The Coast Guard has also verified the actual location of the private channel buoys (numbers 8 through 18), and after a couple more steps they too will be corrected on the chart.  (I’ve seen the USCG paperwork and it does seem clear now that the mistaken locations came from a private aid permit application filed by our Harbor Master.)  I’d like to extend a big thanks to NOAA and the USCG for all this.

trawler_drag_in_Camden_Harbor_cPanbo.JPGPS.  Here’s what that big, beautiful trawler’s helm looks like…another case of DBE! (don’t blame the electronics):


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

15 Responses

  1. Carl says:

    Great to hear the chart updates moved relatively quickly and smoothly.

  2. Sandy Daugherty says:

    Re: big cruiser, short rode. Deep pockets have big egos and spare attorneys. Tread softly.

  3. Sandy Daugherty says:

    Re: big cruiser, short rode. Deep pockets have big egos and spare attorneys. Tread softly.

  4. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    I have very mixed feelings about leaving the key to be found.
    When at a dock or at anchor, in a safe place, I will leave the key in the ignition. So someone could intercede if necessary. But, what it some kid takes it for a joy ride? Do I have some liability for enabling them ?

  5. Shane says:

    I choose to be of the glass half full camp, and at anchor the keys stay in the ignition. Never have had to be boarded (hope nobody ever sees the need), but if someone’s willing to step onto my vessel to protect it (something honest people do not do lightly -I know), I’ll do what I can to help them -help me- out.

  6. Marcus says:

    Mark your boat with name and telephone number.
    I´ve saved a couple of boats. Of season I see a lot of boats that need attention. Water in boats, close dock contact, sails out, smoking cables etc.
    A phone number could save your boat.

  7. SanderO says:

    The complexity thing would intimidate kids and most joy riders. They are more likely to vandalize, rob or party on a nice boat. A skiff or a dink is another matter.
    Professional boat thieves likely work marinas where they can identify a target and get the boat out. But at mooring or anchor it’s less likely.
    So leaving some emergency instructions is a good idea for anchored or moored boats.

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    An interesting detail of the trawler dragging incident I learned about since writing the entry: An owner/operator near the scene (who had also dragged, but self rescued) used a DSC Safety Call to alert everyone to the trawler in trouble, and to locate it, and then followed up with calm and informative voice transmissions. I know at least one boat that got confused about how to turn off the alarm (because DSC alerts are so rare), but I think that was a smart move.
    I also understand now that the trawler did touch bottom, but only mud because the tide was out. Lucky!
    And thanks to those who have sent notes, or tried to post comments, identifying the oblivious trawler (all who were there agree on that point)…but let’s not go there on Panbo.

  9. Ron Rogers says:

    Any owner leaving their unattended vessel at anchor, whether bad weather is expected or not, ought to carry a handheld with them while ashore at dinner or shopping. Not only would you be informed if there was trouble (not necessarily your boat) but you would be able to give permission for someone to start your boat or similar while you rush down.
    In the past, my M88 was an occasional companion, but no more!

  10. Kevin says:

    I am more concerned about the apparent casual attitude of the owner. Maybe he was too embarassed, but wow. Too much money, too little responsibility? Or just, what?
    And I have to laud the efforts of all the saviours involved – what a great group. I agree with Shane: great to look out for each other, and the decent thing to do.

  11. Richard C says:

    I guess it depends on where you are anchored. Here on Long Island my boat is locked, alarmed and name removed from mooring ball. In Maine I leave the keys in and the companionway is almost always unlocked (but closed). Leaving your cell number on the companionway door might be helpful while ashore just in case you drag. I like the “carry a VHF” idea – there have been times I wish I had one just for peace of mind during a squall.

  12. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Leaving cell phone numbers in companionway, that sounds like a terrific idea. Carry a VHF, not so much.

  13. Chuck Hurley says:

    We were in the harbor on a mooring during the blow. I believe the boat making the Safety Call may have been the Kady Krogen “Allegria.” We saw both boats the next morning. The storm came up suddenly and probably blew up to 50 knots for up to a hour. Good comments.
    Chuck Hurley
    Luck of the Irish

  14. Patient says:

    Thanks for posting this. I am glad I am not alone with that frame of mind.
    There are far too many boat owners that justify the amount of money spent as some reason not to even bother learning the most basic skills of seamanship.
    On a kinder note, I agree that the group that rushed to the aid of this derelict boat all deserve a beer and a word of thanks at the very least. There are far too many places to list that would not have rewarded that situation with the same kindness.
    The situation has played out in my mind a few times. I have been considering laminating a card with DCS/EPCS “One button” paging instructions and leaving on the console. I would just have to carry around my Yaesu VX8R (Or similar EPCS capable handheld) in my pocket when ashore. That idea is with a sailboat in mind though which tends to have more accessibility to UHF, Steering and the Engine without the need to go below (Which I keep locked).
    Anyone have a similar paging setup that has worked for them?

  15. Jon says:

    A short length of chain is not the problem here. Numerous studies have been done that disprove the old chain vs. rode argument. All chain accomplishes is improved chafe resistance. In most locations you need very short lengths of chain to deal with this and after that all you are doing is adding to your pitching moment by carrying all that chain in the chain locker.
    The real solution is scope. I agree, that far to many idiot power boaters have more wallet than experience or sense and think 2:1 or 3:1 is enough to keep their precious piece of floating plastic from dragging.
    If you want to learn more about some serious tests done on chain vs. rode and the importance of scope check this out:

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