Anchor foul, also known as a fouled anchor, refers to an anchor whose cable has become twisted around the stock or fluke, or an anchor that has hooked or become entangled with another anchor. This poses a great deal of risk to the functionality of the anchor system as a whole, rendering it ineffective.
The term “foul” generally refers to something that’s wrong or difficult, and it is also used to describe other nautical situations such as a foul hawse, foul bottom, and foul wind.
Also Read, How ship anchor Works – Explained
Foul Anchors – Explanation for Beginners
The anchors are as old as the ships themselves. They are those age-old devices used to haul a floating vessel to the ground, like the seabed or seafloor, when the vessel is required to be halted or stationed at some location for some requirement.
Anchors come in different shapes, sizes, types, and builds. Depending on the vessel size and type, the size and weight of the anchor vary accordingly. The anchors are usually stowed in an enclosure of the main hull, usually known as the anchor pocket.
When needed, they are lowered into the seafloor with the help of a chain-cable mechanism operated from onboard. After the anchor is lowered into the seabed, it settles down by virtue of gravity into the undersea floor.
This creates a firm grip on the seabed, and the vessel is fixed to its location by the inertial weight of the anchor coupled with the fixity it creates on the seafloor.
Though in modern times, technologies like Dynamic Positioning Systems or DPS have gained popularity, anchor still remains very common amongst vessels.
And for all vessels that use technologies like DPS, an anchor is still kept on board as a reliable backup source when any of these systems fail. Hence, the importance of anchors is indispensable.
As an intrinsic part of the anchor systems, the anchor chains also have a great deal of importance. They should be sturdy, have strong connections and strength, and resist high loads.
Another Scenario behind Fouled Anchor
The second scenario of anchor fouling occurs when there is an obstruction or impediment beneath the sea surface. These obstacles can include barnacles, seaweed, cacti, moss, ferns, and various other forms of aquatic vegetation. Additionally, natural or geographical obstructions, as well as artificial ones like wreckage parts or structures, can contribute to fouling.
Dealing with fouled anchors is a challenging task, and restoring the anchor to its normal configuration can be quite cumbersome. Due to the considerable weight of the chains, it is nearly impossible to manually untangle complex twists. The usual approach involves maneuvering the vessel in different ways to alter the alignment of the entangled rope or change its state until it becomes straight and taut again.
This may require moving the vessel back and forth or employing various maneuvers, adjusting engine power as necessary, until a suitable position is reached that helps untangle the fouled anchor.
In more severe cases, the only option may be to cut the tangled chains onshore using welding or other cutting methods and subsequently refitting the chain system. When fouling is caused by external factors, the primary technique involves vessel motions.
Alternatively, the obstruction is often removed through external intervention, such as employing underwater divers or machinery-based means.
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