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Actual use of anchors in emergencies on UK canal/river network


IanD

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20 minutes ago, IanD said:

 

I hope you're going to explain "CQR"!

 

-- yes I know, but maybe Midnight doesn't... 🙂

 

For those who do not know CQR is the phonetic for "secure"

 

It is a 'secure'  ( C  Q  R  ) anchor.

 

Someone has invented "Coastal Quick Release" (which is pretty much nonsense) but is quoted around the internet as 'fact' (so it must be)

 

Wikipedia is only as good as the person who wrote the page - it does not have any peer review.

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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2 hours ago, IanD said:

 

If you think my assessment is flawed, please point out why and we can discuss it like grown-ups instead of throwing insults around.

 

. 😉

At one point you seem to assume a single £2m life is at risk where, more typically it will be a greater number.

 

But more generally, my thought is that the risk of not carrying an anchor can be overestimated.  Clearly it has much to do with the particular waterway and its conditions whereas some seem to see it solely triggered by being on a river.  On the Weaver in benign conditions, for example, I wouldn't usually extract it from the locker.

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1 minute ago, Tacet said:

At one point you seem to assume a single £2m life is at risk where, more typically it will be a greater number.

 

But more generally, my thought is that the risk of not carrying an anchor can be overestimated.  Clearly it has much to do with the particular waterway and its conditions whereas some seem to see it solely triggered by being on a river.  On the Weaver in benign conditions, for example, I wouldn't usually extract it from the locker.

 

Absolutely - but because it is in the locker, you can 'extract it from the locker' if the need arises.

If the anchor is 'still in the chandlery,' that option would not be available to you.

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2 minutes ago, Tacet said:

At one point you seem to assume a single £2m life is at risk where, more typically it will be a greater number.

 

But more generally, my thought is that the risk of not carrying an anchor can be overestimated.  Clearly it has much to do with the particular waterway and its conditions whereas some seem to see it solely triggered by being on a river.  On the Weaver in benign conditions, for example, I wouldn't usually extract it from the locker.

 

You can look at it various ways -- a single £2M life with 100% risk of death, or 2 lives with 50% (because drowning isn't guaranteed), or...

 

But anyway like all the other numbers it wasn't intended to be an exact figure, it was trying to show that the "you should be worried because you have an expensive boat" comments were misdirected, because the loss of life matters much more than the loss of the boat -- which would be insured anyway. Like anyone else I could go out and get another boat (with the insurance money, so the difference becomes even bigger), but not another life 😞

 

Your point is exactly the one I was trying to get over, in opposition to the flat "it would be pretty stupid to go out on a river without an anchor" viewpoint... 😉

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32 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

I'm not sure that that statement is correct.

 

The Danforth was designed and the patent submitted in 1948 and the patent was eventually granted by the US patent office in 1951. Mr Danforth was a Californian citizen.

 

I'm not sure if you are confusing the Danforth with the CQR which was originally designed as a lighter weight (than the admiralty pattern stockless) anchor for holding Flying Boats when away from their moorings, and general anchoring of yachts and ships.

The patent application for the CQR was made in 1933 Mr G. I Tayor (a British citizen from Cambridge) filed the patent to the UK patent office in 1933, followed by the filing with the US patent office in 1934

 

No Alan, amazingly, I  do know the difference between a Danforth and a CQR, but thank you for invaluable and knowledgeable  input. 

 

As far as the design dates, well done for taking the trouble to research the history of both these anchors. My brief reference said  Danforth developed in it around 1939, but whichever date is more correct I’m glad you are there ready to correct we lesser mortals.😀
 

Howard

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20 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

Absolutely - but because it is in the locker, you can 'extract it from the locker' if the need arises.

If the anchor is 'still in the chandlery,' that option would not be available to you.

 

You could also have a full North-Sea-spec inflatable liferaft on board, just for the incredibly unlikely case where the engine fails, the anchor fails, the boat rolls under the dolphin, there's a hurricane blowing (in spite of what Michael Fish says), and not even a fully-rated lifejacket will save you. Would make you really *really* extra-safe, probably only cost ten grand or so... 😉

 

The risk of not carrying an anchor for narrowboats who hardly ever go out on rivers, only in reasonable weather, and not on yellow boards or really risky rivers (i.e. most holidaymakers and many boaters) is so small as to be negligible. No amount of what-iffery will change this fact... 😉

 

For other canal boaters with higher risk, it's either a sensible precaution, strongly recommended, or pretty much essential, all depending on boating lifestyle.

 

2 minutes ago, Loddon said:

This anchor thread is worthy of YBW ;)

 

Not really, because anyone on YBW is almost certain to really *need* an anchor -- you know, for anchoring... 😉

Edited by IanD
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5 minutes ago, howardang said:

As far as the design dates, well done for taking the trouble to research the history of both these anchors

 

It was no trouble - as I said earlier in the thread I have investigated a lot of the history of anchors and the Pros and cons of each type - part of that reasearch was getting the patents of each anchor and looking at their claims.

I had it all on file so there wasn't much effort needed to post it.

Pleased to be able to assist..

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43 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

Absolutely - but because it is in the locker, you can 'extract it from the locker' if the need arises.

If the anchor is 'still in the chandlery,' that option would not be available to you.

To be honest, if my anchor was in the locker when needed, by the time I'd extricated it from all the other crap on top of it, whatever the emergency was would probably have resolved, one way or another.;)

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2 minutes ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

To be honest, if my anchor was in the locker when needed, by the time I'd extricated it from all the other crap on top of it, whatever the emergency was would probably have resolved, one way or another.;)

"The body was found underneath the upturned boat, held down to the riverbed by an anchor and chain..."

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40 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

It was no trouble - as I said earlier in the thread I have investigated a lot of the history of anchors and the Pros and cons of each type - part of that reasearch was getting the patents of each anchor and looking at their claims.

I had it all on file so there wasn't much effort needed to post it.

Pleased to be able to assist..

Good to see that you have a fulfilling hobby. However, if you look on danforthanchors.com it says something different.

 

Howard

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18 minutes ago, howardang said:

Good to see that you have a fulfilling hobby. However, if you look on danforthanchors.com it says something different.

 

Howard

 

Thank you - an interesting web site.

I'm suprised that if indeed it was in use during the war that would surely preclude it being granted a patent due to 'prior art' (made the design available in the public domain.)

 

I'll keep that in my Danforth file and do some more investigation - always like to get to the bottom of conflicting information.

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Must admit, I’m one of the foolish, I have no anchor or life jacket.

I rarely use a river, and then only when the river is slow and benign.

 

Having said that, I was on the Thames and the Kennet a few years ago when both were a bit racy.

Good fun and thinking back an anchor probably wouldn’t have been much help stopping my boat at speed, a life jacket would have been sensible though. 

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I’ve got a CQR on my boat but I had no idea of the origin of the name.

 

This £2m value is what HM Government use for the cost of a life when making safety investment decisions. Surely no one uses it to value their own life when making personal safety decisions??

 

 

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Captain Pegg said:

I’ve got a CQR on my boat but I had no idea of the origin of the name.

 

This £2m value is what HM Government use for the cost of a life when making safety investment decisions. Surely no one uses it to value their own life when making personal safety decisions??

 

 

That's not what I meant, I was using it to point out that the "expensive shiny boat" digs were aiming at the wrong target, because lives are worth more than boats and are much harder to replace...

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I have an anchor and lifejackets, I had them on the previous boat and on this one, its no hardship really as I have plenty of space in the well deck and cupboards. But if I was pushed for space it becomes a different proposition. 

Now a couple of years ago off anglesey we had to deploy an anchor to save ourselves. I posted on here about it and the subsequent rescue by RNLI. I wasn't concerned but the owner of the boat and Jayne were both severely seasick and the journey back would have been to much for them!!!

You need an anchor at sea that is for certain and I am happy with my choice of having one on my boat as long as Ian is happy then it's his choice 

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5 minutes ago, IanD said:

 

That's not what I meant, I was using it to point out that the "expensive shiny boat" digs were aiming at the wrong target, because lives are worth more than boats and are much harder to replace...


Agreed. I couldn’t find the post where it originated on skimming through hence asked the question. I think it’s at least as much a qualitative rather than strictly quantitative thing.

 

I suspect when I fly in a commercial jet the pilots are trained for eventualities that are statistically less likely to occur when normalised than me needing an anchor on a river. I don’t want those pilots to be less trained so my very basic assessment on whether I should carry an anchor says “yes”.

 

What price do you put on never experiencing that moment when you say “Oh dear, I wish I’d fitted that anchor”?

 

Unless your brain is wired in a very unique way you will not take any comfort from the response “Statistically it would only have been 37% likely to be fully effective anyway”.

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7 hours ago, IanD said:

Thanks to everyone for the (non-name-calling) answers to my original question 🙂

 

This has thrown up a lot of questions or facts, some of which seem at first glance to contradict each other, for example:

 

-- some people have spent years on rivers and never had to deploy an anchor in an emergency

-- others have reported on this thread that they have had to, even recently

-- Alan (and others) say that a Danforth is well-nigh useless, but others report that they worked fine for them

-- boats have been known to very occasionally sink due to engine failure on a river e.g. being rolled under the "dolphins"

-- some people say that an anchor is essential and venturing out onto a river without one is "stupid", others disagree

-- some people (like in many walks of life) don't understand risk, especially for rare but serious events

 

I thought I'd try and throw some light on this by seeing if all the above can be explained, and see if it's possible to come up with some useful advice. If you don't want to read on about risk and probabilities look away now -- and please don't come back with "stupid" or "boring" or "too difficult" comments, all that's doing is showing that you're not actually interested in the question, just throwing rocks... 😉

 

[and if you just want to read the conclusions, skip to the end]

 

To work out the apparent contradictions between the first points, you need to look at how likely it is that a canal boater (not a yottie or lumpy water boater or someone who lives on a river...) will need to deploy an anchor in an emergency, which is what we're talking about. So I'm going to throw in a guesstimated risk per day on a river of 1 in a 1000 (0.1%) to see what happens and whether it explains the above facts -- and again there's no point arguing about *precise* numbers, within a factor of 3 is close enough.

 

That means that if you're out on the river every working day, you'd expect an "event" (anchor deployment due to engine stopped or fouled prop) about every 5 years *on average* -- which fits fine with what was said, one deployment in 5 years in one case, none in 10 years for another (because that's how probabilities work). But how does this fit with the half a dozen other people who have reported these events?

 

For this we need to know how many days per year a typical canal boater (or a poster on CWDF. which is not the same thing...) spends cruising on a river. There are about 30000 boats on CART waters, but only a small part of these are rivers, and there are usually fewer boats cruising on rivers than on canals, and most boats spend most of their time moored anyway. Let's assume that CWDF boaters are more active than typical but still spend more days moored than moving, and most will be on canals, not rivers. A couple of days per week moving isn't a bad guess, this is 100 days per year. Don't know how much of this might be (on average) on rivers but it must be pretty small, only a few days per year -- unlikely to be as high as 10, lets guess 3 (again, using 1/3/10 type numbers). A few hundred people have read this thread, let's call it 300. That means the people who've read this thread between them spend about 1000 days per year cruising on rivers.

 

With the 0.1%/day risk above, this predicts that the posts should have found about 1 deployment per year -- and that seems to be roughly the case going by the replies, half a dozen of so presumably in the last 5 years or so -- again, all approximations. But the point is that these accounts and the "years without a deployment" posts are both explained by the risk level suggested, they don't conflict with each other 🙂

 

So now lets see what happens to all the boats on the canals and how often an "under-the-dolphins" disaster might happen. It seems very likely that boats in general spend much less time out and about than CWDF posters because most of them spend most of their time moored in marinas or CMing -- if they all spend 100 days per year cruising there would be 10000 boats out on the move at any one time, which is 5 per mile moving for the whole system. I'd say this is probably 10x higher than reality, which suggest maybe 10 days per year cruising, which would mean about 1000 boats out on the water actually travelling at any one time -- one every couple of miles (pass another moving boat every half an hour?), which seems reasonable for the entire system all year. If we use the same river/canal ratio as above, that means that roughly once a week a boat somewhere on the rivers needs to deploy an anchor in an emergency -- which again, sounds reasonable, and would fit with the blogger "OMG MY ENGINE FAILED!!!!!" posts.

 

Now we have to figure out how many of these end up in an "under-the-dolphins" disaster not just a harmless excursion into the reeds/trees/mud or a spluttery engine restart or weed hatch clearance. I'm going to guess that at most there's one event like this every couple of years, since they'd certainly make the news like the one that Alan keeps posting about. That means that about 1% of anchor deployments (which were guessed at one per week) end up in disaster -- so that puts the risk of this at 1/100000 per day that you're moving on a river. To put it in context, if you went out on the river every day it would be 500 years on average before you had a disaster like this -- it's *extremely* unlikely.

 

So what about the type of anchor -- "chocolate fireguard" Danforth or a more expensive state-of-the-art one as advocated by Alan -- or none at all? Now we have to get into the kind of risk analysis used by insurers and governments...

 

Contrary to what some posters said, the cost of a boat ("200 grand shiny electric boat...") is pretty much irrelevant here, because the much bigger issue is people dying, not the boat sinking. And you *can* put a price on life, this is used to decide whether spending money on safety is justified, and the normal figure used is £2M. Which is 10x the cost of even an expensive boat, which is why this doesn't matter. So to allow for when the "under-dolphin disaster" happens and somebody dies, the average "cost" of this is about £20 per day (£2M x 1/100000 chance per day). That's £60/year for a CWDF poster, much less for a typical boater. If a safety precaution costs less than this, it's justified. If it costs more, it isn't -- at least, if you only look at the numbers.

 

An advanced anchor (as advocated by Alan) is a much better bet because it has a much lower failure rate than a Danforth, which is well known to fail to set or slip on multiple occasions -- but not every time, which is why people on here reported being saved by one. We might guess that the Danforth fails 1/3 of the time so it's not useless, but spending 2x (or even more) on an anchor that fails much less often (5x? 10x?) is *definitely* the better choice -- in risk terms, a Danforth is probably closer to no anchor at all than it is to an advanced one. As a safety precaution an advanced anchor is worth it, a Danforth rather less so.

 

As to the "is an anchor essential or not for a canal boater?" question, as usual the answer is "it depends"...

 

If you spend a lot of time cruising, and especially more than normal on rivers, then it's definitely a good idea, even though you might only need to deploy it every few years (or maybe never...) -- and even then the chances of ending up in a life-threatening "under-the-dolphins" type of situation is very small, probably much lower than the chance of being killed in a car crash on the way to your boat. But the analysis definitely shows that "it's worth it".

 

[but even for boaters like this, the risk/cost of an insurance write-off/death is so small compared to other risks like CO2/fire/cilling that insurers and CART don't make having one compulsory]

 

For typical long-term boaters it's more of a reassurance than something that's likely to get used, but that doesn't mean it's not a good idea because people *like* being reassured -- and it certainly won't do any harm, and it's still "worth it".

 

For occasional/holiday boaters nipping out onto the river for a day or two, the chances of ever needing it (or it saving you) are absolutely minute, so if you haven't got one there's no need to panic and rush out to buy one -- or be put off from going out onto the river by lurid tales/photos of disaster... 😉

 

Funnily enough, I think this agrees with pretty much everything that has been said on the subject... 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Its a detailed - and logical - analysis of the subject area. However, its weakness is just that - namely, it is a mathematical analysis. Humans are sentient beings with emotion and irrational decision making processes, and there is something to be said for a 'belt and braces' approach, rather than strictly deciding that the anchor isn't always necessary. It basically, "ticks a box" and eliminates one of the worries of the differences between river and canal cruising for some. Making a holiday/leisure time enjoyable rather than stressful for some.

 

If anything, this 18 page thread undoes a little bit of that reassurance, it that it illustrates that 1) some anchors are a bit useless, 2) in practical terms, on a narrowboat, they are a PITA to deploy (and recover), because narrowboats just don't have the relevant hardware to justify doing it regularly (with a few exceptions). And that leads to 2.1, there are dangers  of deploying an anchor in itself, which probably haven't been fully considered.

 

The logical conclusion is that, rivers are just a tad more dangerous than canals, and narrowboats aren't that well suited to them. They can do it, just not as safely as a boat with built-in anchor deployment hardware. But so what? The death rate remains steady at 100%, despite vast advances in healthcare, quality of life, etc. If we approached narrowboating with 100% logic, it would not take long to realise that owning a boat is in itself irrational.

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47 minutes ago, peterboat said:

I have an anchor and lifejackets, I had them on the previous boat and on this one, its no hardship really as I have plenty of space in the well deck and cupboards. But if I was pushed for space it becomes a different proposition. 

Now a couple of years ago off anglesey we had to deploy an anchor to save ourselves. I posted on here about it and the subsequent rescue by RNLI. I wasn't concerned but the owner of the boat and Jayne were both severely seasick and the journey back would have been to much for them!!!

You need an anchor at sea that is for certain and I am happy with my choice of having one on my boat as long as Ian is happy then it's his choice 

I can't imagine a boat which is so small that there is no room for anchor and lifejacket. Maybe overkill on a sailboard, even for a little grapnel, and lifejacket can be worn

 

Edited by LadyG
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18 minutes ago, Paul C said:

 

Its a detailed - and logical - analysis of the subject area. However, its weakness is just that - namely, it is a mathematical analysis. Humans are sentient beings with emotion and irrational decision making processes, and there is something to be said for a 'belt and braces' approach, rather than strictly deciding that the anchor isn't always necessary. It basically, "ticks a box" and eliminates one of the worries of the differences between river and canal cruising for some. Making a holiday/leisure time enjoyable rather than stressful for some.

 

If anything, this 18 page thread undoes a little bit of that reassurance, it that it illustrates that 1) some anchors are a bit useless, 2) in practical terms, on a narrowboat, they are a PITA to deploy (and recover), because narrowboats just don't have the relevant hardware to justify doing it regularly (with a few exceptions). And that leads to 2.1, there are dangers  of deploying an anchor in itself, which probably haven't been fully considered.

 

The logical conclusion is that, rivers are just a tad more dangerous than canals, and narrowboats aren't that well suited to them. They can do it, just not as safely as a boat with built-in anchor deployment hardware. But so what? The death rate remains steady at 100%, despite vast advances in healthcare, quality of life, etc. If we approached narrowboating with 100% logic, it would not take long to realise that owning a boat is in itself irrational.

Your first point is exactly what I said; regardless of how much actual difference it makes to safety, if an anchor makes a boater feel safer then that can justify having one -- because people are not just rational organic machines like Spock. (Mr, not Dr.)

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5 hours ago, IanD said:

It's not a fictional she, it was a posting by a newbie earlier this year.

 

IIRC her response to the posted picture was "OMG, that's horrific!" -- I'm sure somebody can fond the exact post, I can't right now...

Found the post SFA to do with boats rolling under the weir protection ( they are not dolphins, dolphins are posts into the river bed )

It was a picture of a sunk boat on a river mooring, sunk boats on moorings happen far more often for a variety of reasons. 

 

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8 minutes ago, Loddon said:

Found the post SFA to do with boats rolling under the weir protection ( they are not dolphins, dolphins are posts into the river bed )

It was a picture of a sunk boat on a river mooring, sunk boats on moorings happen far more often for a variety of reasons. 

 

Either way it was inappropriate scaremongering pure and simple -- "beware of going on a river, this might happen to you".

 

The fact that it wasn't to do with an anchor is my memory failure, but the scaremongering principle is the same -- "don't even think about going out on a river without an anchor, it's unsafe and stupid".

 

P.S. I wasn't the one who kept calling them dolphins, I'd never heard of the term -- but I assumed people using the term know what they were talking about since they were speaking from a position as "experts"... 😉

Edited by IanD
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