The BOSS and Mary Anne

Jack and Jude were asked to test a new design of anchor during their 2013 Australia Circumnavigation. We wrote this article for the anchor manufacturer’s website.

There are times when an anchor must hold or more than sleep will be lost. The West Australian Coast, with its few good anchorages and fierce, persistent southerly winds produced just such a testing time for the sailing yacht Banyandah when enroute from Dampier to Carnarvon.


The weathermen had promised a fair breeze, so Jack and Jude had risen from their comfy beds at the ungodly hour of 2:30 AM to use it for a 55 mile hop. Those same weathermen had said a cold front would follow this fair wind later that night, swinging it southwest with a powerful punch. What we needed was a good anchorage. Searching the chart, only one of the many islands and reefs found before Northwest Cape seemed hopeful. Mary Anne Islet, a tiny pile of sand atop a huge sunken reef. Would we find good bottom? Would the reef provide enough lee for our Manson Boss to hold? Desperate to use this rare, fair wind, we decided to give it a go, as all other winds had been strong and straight in our face.

mary anne reef anchorage

Arriving late in the afternoon not long past low water, we were alarmed. Mary Anne was not as expected. Instead of clear visibility, we found murky water hiding even a hint of the reef’s edge with dangerous shallows everywhere. Compounding this, the strong current around the reef made it difficult to set the anchor against the forecast wind, and even more dangerous because the nature of the bottom was uncertain. Our chain grumbled. And, even though the anchor held, an hour later we moved out into deeper water to lose the swell that grew alarmingly upon hitting the shallows.

At midnight, the wind turned southwest and roared, knocking us about. Its intensity turned the fetch over the now vast, deeply covered reef into a steep, short sea that punched us, sending spray over Banyandah for the rest of the night. With the current racing at us like a charging army, our veteran craft bounced up and down and sideways in the confusion of forces madly tugging at her only saviour, The Boss 

Middle of the night, the moon now up, our GPS ticking away next to our bed, keeping track of our position, we relaxed into a half sleep, aware of any change, but feeling now the Boss was in charge. At dawn the next morning, white-water all round, but still in the same spot, it was impossible to keep the smiles off our faces.

Cap’n Jack

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