Even though we had passed Anchoring 101 in Hawaii, Andrew still felt a little nervous about the idea of anchoring Windchime overnight in Lake Mead. Lake Mead is extremely deep and nothing but rock, where would you anchor? After every sail race, our fellow sailors would encourage us saying Lake Mead is fantastic for anchoring, easy as pie. All you have to do is drive your sailboat up on a steeply sloping beach and throw the anchor against a rock on shore. We were promised beautiful sunsets, starry nights, and a campfire on shore.
With these tantalizing promises, it still took us six months before we mustered up the courage to try anchoring out. Not sure what was so terrifying to us, but the fear was conquered when our friends at the Lake Mead Sailing Club (distinguished from and not to be confused with the racing arm Nevada Yacht Club) invited us out for a raft up.
The winter sun bright, the air crisp and cool, and the Las Vegas sky was devoid of any clouds whatsoever. We packed up a cooler, and headed out to the marina. Winnie sputtered to life as we carefully backed her out of the slip. The wind was light, but steady. Lake Mead's red, white, black, and tan dirt shifted tones in the late afternoon sun as we tucked ourselves into a cove at the opening of the Lake Mead Narrows. Protected from almost all sides, we spy a tightly clumped group of little sailboats. As we approach, we are hailed on the VHF radio and instructed to throw a stern anchor off the back of Windchime as we approach the group to our port.
Andrew scrambles around on deck digging out the stern anchor and untangling the old rope crusty with the dried mud of previous owners. He tosses it out behind us, and I hold the rope while guiding Windchime in slowly. A group of sailors stand around on shore, beers in hand, watch us approach. "Break out the score cards, guys!" My heart is pounding at the fear of bumping our neighbors or otherwise making a fool of myself. The anchor catches and slows Windchime to a stop. Andrew tosses ropes to our boat neighbor and hops off the bow to pull Winnie's nose into the sand. He unwinds Windchime's chain and bow anchor and pulls it up onto the beach where he finds a sandstone crevice to lodge the anchor. Hazzahh! Our first anchorage made on our very own boat!
We break open the cooler and enjoy the first of what will be many "New Anchorage Beers".
That night, we enjoy a campfire on the beach with our Lake Mead Sail Club friends. Sailing stories, racing stories, cruising stories, technical equipment discussions, and rum all around. Then, we laid out our sleeping bags in Windchime's V-Berth and tucked in for the night. A cold breeze slid down the desert slopes, through Windchime's open hatch, and across my nose peeking out of my sleeping bag hood. I laid on my back and looked up at pinpoints of light thousands of miles away. I imagine looking at these same pinpoints of light from the other side of the globe.
"Yes. This is happening," I think, "I'm sailing around the world - even right now."
We woke refreshed and happy, ready to contribute pancakes to the potluck breakfast. Good feelings all around, we couldn't wait to do it again!
So, we did it again, with our friends from Utah and our "God-dogger", Tofu.
Another success! So, we did it again and again! Pretty soon, we were anchoring out for lunch and a swim, camping, or just to enjoy the stars. Anchoring out is where we learned to love not just sailing, but the idea of cruising. Sailing somewhere to relax, explore, and live out of our sailboat for a bit became one of our favorite weekend getaways.