Quo Vadis Sits Out Force 10 on Anchor Right

Updated on: Sep 21 2009

The following state of events that was recorded by Peter Hutchinson, skipper of Quo Vadis drives home the need for good reliable ground tackle, equally as important when purchasing an anchor make sure that it is of an a approved and tested design. The Anchor Right anchor that Peter relied upon was a Sarca, (Sand and Reef Combination anchor).

Please Note: the attached photo’s were taken by the RNLI sea rescue the next morning whilst hooking up and towing Quo Vadis to a safer anchorage, they do not depict the ferociousness of the storm that Peter experienced during the night.

Hi Rex,

When I built Quo Vadis, my own design upon the hull shape of a Roberts Mauritius 43, I looked very specifically for an anchoring system that would perform in an emergency. If the 20-ton boat had complete systems failure and was being blown on to a lee shore I wanted to know that I could use a strong hook to grab the sea bed. After careful consideration I opted for the Anchorright system with 100m of chain, operated from my own custom-designed bow roller by a substantial windlass. There are very few places in the world that this would not stop a drifting disabled vessel in an emergency. In particular I was attracted by the Anchorright self correcting roll bar (and reverse-pull extraction for release if snagged) as an emergency anchoring wouldn’t necessarily take account of bottom conditions.

On September 3rd 2009 I had occasion to test the Anchorright in severe conditions when running from a storm latterly written up as Force 10 by the local media. Sea conditions in Liverpool Bay delayed my approach to the Mersey, and thus the tidal lock entrance to Liverpool Marina where I required to be by around midnight on the 2nd, leaving me looking for a suitable place to anchor and see out the forecast storm. Good navigational chart-plotting equipment allowed me to explore all the water off Liverpool at my leisure for suitable anchorages. Not a lot of choice. There are a couple of small craft moorings areas that are likely to be fouled with chains. The next location, other than out in the exposed Liverpool Bay, was off New Brighton where outside the shipping fairway there was an area of water with depth, clear sea bed and swinging room.

At 3am on Thursday 3rd September I dropped anchor at the identified location, between Brazil Light Float and Rock Gut. I had a charted depth of about 7m and enough sea room to swing well over 100m in any direction, still without risking obstructing the fairway. Importantly, also, the ground conditions suggested good bearing and no wrecks or underwater obstructions.

Barely had I got 40m of chain out and secured to the anchoring cleat on the bow when the storm struck. The rain whipped across with such force that exposure was painful. But by this point not only was Quo Vadis attached to the seabed, but also I had a waypoint on my chart-plotter showing exactly where my Anchorright had come in contact with the world. I put a second waypoint when QV reached the end of her 40m of anchor chain, and a 3rd when she had swung through a couple of arcs showing the extremity of the swing. For an hour I sat by the plotter monitor watching for any sign of drag as the storm’s intensity had QV bucking about like a rodeo ride. Not an inch. We were hooked fast. After a cup of tea and still no sign of drag I went to my bed in the aft cabin. All the bounce was at the front and my cabin hardly moved.

At 11 the morning the wind still howled and the sea coming over Rock Gut was still boisterous. The bow rose an fell through quite an angle, but I could sit and work in the aft cabin with a cup of tea. Imagine my surprise when I looked out the porthole and saw a lifeboat man outside. The RNLI (British Lifeboats) had a Rib returning from helping kids endangered on a beach and they saw Quo Vadis looking like a fairground ride. They had no idea we’d been there all night. The Coastguard did know because I’d advised them when I anchored. From the perspective of the men in the Rib there was a danger my anchor wouldn’t hold and I would be blown out of control into the fairway, or onto Rock Gut. Upon their advice I agreed to relocate to the marina as it now had water level suitable for the sea lock.

Agreeing to relocate is one thing. Taking a perfectly safe boat off a secure anchor in a major storm is another. I was all for sitting out the storm, so the RNLI offered a line onto their bigger lifeboat so I could safely raise my anchor. For this I was very grateful. My original plan had been to berth in the marina for 2 days anyway as I had friends to visit in Liverpool. With expert assistance from the RNLI the anchor was raised from the seabed and stowed in the bow roller, and Quo Vadis was escorted, still attached to the lifeboat as protection against high wind gusts until we got to the marina entrance, and tied up in the lock before a happy goodbye handshake.

Later, in the marina, I was visited by the coastguard. Of particular interest was the track on the chartplotter that showed Quo Vadis had sat out the storm at anchor, swinging entirely within the waypoints I had placed. This was proof that I had never been at risk, and that I had chosen my anchorage and ground tackle suitably.

All good stories have a twist. A local TV crew spotted the lifeboat and reported I had gone out in the storm against advice and needed rescue. I attach the apology from the BBC. The local newspaper, The Globe, also noted the incident. I took exception to Quo Vadis being described as stricken. As their report had emanated from the RNLI, though with no names, I asked the RNLI if they could help me also correct this. I pointed out to the RNLI that my Anchorright ground tackle should be acknowledged.

When I get back to QV I will try to photograph the chart-plotter with the track if you wish. In the meantime I attach a link to the report in The Globe. This might help. (The blogs added by people who know me make amusing reading. The ballooning quip is aimed at my uncle who build a balloon to go round the world, but which sank in the sea off Japan.)

Peter Hutchison


Peter, thanks for your call.
I can confirm that the story we ran on September 3rd was wrong in a number of respects. I have spoken to the Liverpool coastguard and they tell me that

a) you were in no danger at any point..
b) you had not “ignored coastguards warnings and put out to sea” as was stated in our story.
c) you were lying at anchor at the correct location.
d) the RNLI were on their way back from another incident when they saw your boat. They offered an escort back to the marina if you required it…

We are still investigating the reason for the errors and I might have some more info later but in the meantime I am really sorry if our inaccuracy on this story has caused you any embarassment.

Newsgathering Editor
BBC Northwest Tonight