We added a few rules to our "always/never" book last New Year's Eve. Without going into a ton of detail we ended up having to haul a dragging anchor at oh-dark-thirty in rapidly rising winds and waves as we--- my wife, actually, I was dealing with the windlass--- juggled the controls to keep from being blown back into a railroad trestle while not overrunning the anchor chain in her eagerness to stay off the trestle. Needless to say, the net sum of the boat's directional movement was backwards.
I never knew it could take so long to haul in 140 feet of chain but we succeeded with what we judged to be about two minutes to spare, so the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad was not be able to paint little GB36 silhouettes on the sides of their locomotives.
Then we spent the next hour slow-cruising an oval holding pattern in the bay waiting for daybreak so we could see to decide whether to anchor in the upwind end of the bay and wait out the weather or surf our way back through a forest of crab pot buoys to our marina.
As a result of this learning experience the rules we've added to our "book" are: 1. No matter what time the weather weenies say a weather change for the worse will occur, always assume it will occur at least six hours earlier. (Six hours later if it's a weather change for the better.) 2. Always go to the windward side of a bay if the winds are predicted to be from that direction even if they're not supposed to arrive until long after you've left. 3. If you're told the holding conditions in an anchorage are good, always assume that no matter how well your anchor seems to have set you will have found the one spot in the bay where the holding conditions are poor.
As a result of this experience and a few others that were not so dramatic, we began searching for and have since acquired a much more effective anchor than the Bruce. The Bruce is now doing an oustanding job of holding a door closed in our garage. And our powerful but incredibly slow windlass did us a favor by shearing some gear teeth a few months ago which forced us to go out and get a new, better, and MUCH faster new windlass.
And we decided it was a good thing our anchor did drag as it prompted us to get the hell out of that end of the bay before things got worse. After returning to the marina (the winds by then were so strong we couldn't even get into our own slip), we drove around and looked at the bay. Had our anchor held and encouraged us to stay, we would have been in way more trouble later.
So it was an exciting New Year's Eve and my wife is still skeptical of this bay, but hey, it beat sitting around watching TV.....