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Thread: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

  1. #1
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    Default Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Question:

    A sailboat flying a Brazilian flag is cruising UK waters. It comes into a small harbor town at 3 AM, after a coastal passage of a couple of hundred miles. The part of the harbor that is protected from the swell and wind is small, and mostly taken up by the moorings of the local boats, including those of a small yacht club. The Brazilian sailboat anchors off the moorings and the crew goes to sleep.

    At 9 AM, with a force 4-5 wind blowing, the crew is awakened by another sailboat banging on theirs. Its mooring is fouled on their anchor chain, and both boats are dragging. People from the yacht club come out, and both boats are forced to slip their moorings to separate. Both are taken to other yacht club moorings to lick their wounds. Both have undergone some damage from the collision, the Brazilian boat worse of all.

    The next day, without informing anyone, the Brazilians hire a local diver to go down and untangle the mooring and retrieve their anchor. This surprises the yacht club, which had arranged for a diver to come the next day to untangle the mess and report on what he found. The Brazilians then proceed to accuse the yacht club of being negligent with their moorings, and to seek damages in the amount of 5000 euros. They claim they anchored at least 100 meters outside the moorings, and the moored sailboat just dragged on top of them. The club has several local witnesses who claim that the Brazilian sailboat had anchored much closer to the moorings, and probably fouled the mooring in question with its anchor (it actually consisted of two moorings tied together). The club also claims that the Brazilians had a diver eliminate the evidence before anyone could have a look at it. The Brazilians, who speak no English, claim that no one told them a club diver was coming, and that they didn't trust the club moorings and wanted to go back to their anchor.

    Can anyone tell me what the proper procedure would be in such a case, according to UK rules?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Anybody we know?
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    This has the potential to be a first rate mess, in which national and local prejudices may well matter more than the law.

    The Code of Oleron (1192) makes it clear that the vessel that anchors second must give the vessel that anchors first a free berth with room to swing.

    This is generally interpreted in Britain, and perhaps elsewhere where maritime law derives from the Code of Oleron, to mean that where a mooring or a trot of moorings has been laid with the approval of the harbour authority a vessel which anchors must do so clear of the moorings, and it is up to the anchoring vessel to keep sufficiently clear, bearing in mind that local practice in laying moorings will differ from place to place according to local conditions.

    The use of two anchors, one set upstream and the other downstream, for a mooring is very common in Britain.

    It seems to me that the yacht club are more likely to be in the right, here - the visiting yacht say they anchored a hundred metres clear, but that is not really very far at all from a trot, and as they anchored at 3 am they did so in the dark and they may have set back towards the moorings before their anchor actually set.

    I hope that this is some help.
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Since they intend to claim damages, should they have reported the incident to the local authorities right away, as in an auto accident, or is that not the practice in the UK?

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    There is no requirement to do so in the UK - indeed, there is no requirement to do so in an auto accident, here, unless someone has been hurt.
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Oleron. wow. You are dating yourself, Andrew. (Not a bad idea, seeing how nobody else will go out with you... But seriously, folks....) I have heard it referred to here as the Roll of Oleron. I always thought that to be an actual document, all rolled up neat-like.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    As a matter of common sense, the Brazilians should have found a way to communicate with the club but hiring a diver and taking care to stuff is just fine and one can sympathize with their wanting to be on their own gear. I'm a little startled that no one at the club cottoned to the diver being out there. Both sides did some remarkably dumb and irresponsible non-communicating. That said, evidence is moot - total bull - since the gear was tangled and moved. It's remarkably unlikely that a mooring that's been in service would suddenly take a wander in a routine storm so if fault matters, it's most likely the Brazilians.

    I'm surprised at who is suing whom. A captain of any integrity takes responsibility for his or her boat and the Brazilians are singularly at fault for having no anchor watch. At least none reported here. I'd have thought that if anyone had a cause of action, it would be the owners of the moored boat. But most such incidents around here would not be litigated. Too much Act of God in the mix.

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    If the Brazilians could communicate with a local diver, it makes some sense that they could communicate with a local yacht club

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    BTW, for now, this is a thought experiment, as I am seeking unprejudiced opinions. I will soon reveal the actual details, which involve a boat some of us know.

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Can't speak much to UK rules but as a Harbor Commissioner hearing incident cases, I'd mostly be amused by the maritime lawyers. Not to say they were clowning around or anything like that but they could make things ultra complicated and sometimes quite foggy.
    I'd be most interested in reading witness affidavits and having a detailed chart at hand to make specific inquiry.
    Study Peace

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Assuming no tidal current, the issue of who dragged can be ascertained by wind direction

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    I'm not in the UK, but I thought that anyone anchoring was required to ensure that they would not affect a mooring field in any way. Similar to "first one in has the rights" - only more so.

    Seems to me that the YC could show no dragging of moorings for X years & that would prove that the fouling caused the dragging.

    However, I'm not a lawyer, so I can't make it as complicated as they can.....

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    I generally agree with Garret, and some others: the anchored yacht has the burden of staying clear from moored yachts. Unless there was clear proof of a mooring being dragged, the anchored yacht is responsible.

    Then again, I don't have any comparable personal experience... we anchor frequently, but I'd never anchor anywhere near a mooring field.
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    but I'd never anchor anywhere near a mooring field.
    There's the correct way to have dealt with it...

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Just because a mooring ball has been putdown, I sense the weight of the ball, 1000 pounds, 500 pounds, etc may make a difference. Many people just grab one without checking what their lines are attached to assuming that their boat, of unknown size and weight can handle what is below the surface.I always check. sually the pennant has some indication of the weight of the mooring. Good thing to check if one is going to use a mooring anyway.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    From the OP, it appears that the boat on the mooring was a local boat on its assigned mooring, not a stranger doing what I personally do not countanounce under any circumstances, to wit, picking up a mooring without contacting someone authorized to loan or rent the mooring and with full responsible knowledge of its capacity. While the size and condition of the pendent is often a guide to the general heft of the gear, suitability does not confer on anyone the right of use.

    Authorized moorings with their own vessel on can drag but any local authority that allows moorings that drag in a Fresh Breeze (Force 5, wind to 21kt) is simply incompetent. As, frankly, is the crew of any cruising boat that can't get a grip on the bottom in such a normal wind.

    We are missing quite a bit of detail that could come out in a proper investigation. For example, did the Brasilian yacht note its anchor spot on the chart or in the log by bearings, GPS, or any other replicable and objective method. The absence of any indication of this in the OP may well be telling.

    G'luck

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Quote Originally Posted by S.V. Airlie View Post
    [U]sually the pennant has some indication of the weight of the mooring.
    This may be common in places like southern New England where mooring fields are commonly set and maintained by some pretty formal authority. I don't ever recall seeing it up in Maine where I have done most of my sailing (and where a wide variety of objects are used to anchor moorings, old engine blocks and granite blocks being common). In any case, except in an emergency I would never pick up a mooring without permission from someone authorized to give such permission.

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Ian..in perfect circumstances I'd agree. *ducked into NJ one night..3AM at best, raining like stink..Lightening on other sides of me..I mean the harbor I was entering had five channels, all converging on the entrance. You are damn'd right a 3:30, I grabbed a mooring when I found one available. This was real life, not some "if, this, if that under these circumstances, I wouldn't"..... Sure it would be nice if someone at the yacht club answered my call at 3:30. Never would happen in real life.Yes, the Commodore came up the next morning..talked about the lousy blow the night before, including the lightening, said I was fine and offered me any assistance he could give me.Bottom line, I took someone else's mooring with really no option. I was lucky in my choice..Could have been worse. Even under those conditions though, and not knowing what was on he ball, I kept an eye on it..Tired as I was and sailing alone.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    OK, the actual story:

    It was a UK flag yacht that came in and anchored at 3 AM in the harbor of the Brazilian town of Buzios. The boat whose mooring dragged, or was dragged, is Dalia. Dalia was in Buzios at the invitation of the Buzios Yacht Club to participate in an event last weekend, and having arrived early, had been lying at her assigned mooring for five days before the incident. This is the fifth year we do this, and have left her there for as long as a month with no problem. Locals say no mooring there ever dragged.

    Note that when I left her at her mooring, I engaged full reverse and held it for sixty seconds: no dragging.

    I was called after the fact, and upon arrival found the situation described above. Damage to Dalia was the bulwark rail lifted an inch off the deck - already hammered home - and a couple of new battle-scars on her finish. Damage to the British sailboat was bent stanchions and bow pulpit and boom gallows totally wrecked. They swear they anchored way out and Dalia dragged into them mooring and all, but every local eyewitness I spoke to says that they anchored within 50 meters of Dalia, and that the boats collided when they tried to retrieve their anchor, which had fouled the mooring.

    The British boat's crew has now requested an inquiry by the Maritime Tribunal. They seek damages from the Buzios Yacht Club. We seek no damages from anyone, nor does anyone claim any wrongdoing on our part, but as an involved vessel we will still have to answer the inquiry, which will be a bureocratic pain in the ass and most likely lead nowhere, since the only evidence - the fouled mooring - was undone by the diver they hired.


    The British boat's crew had some choice words to say about Brazil, and implied that things would be far different in the civilized world, so I was wondering how a mirror incident in the UK would play out - hence the thought-experiment OP.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    They have not complied with the ordinary good practice of seamen. QED.

    (May I express the faint hope that the British flag was a flag of convenience, and that my fellow citizens were not so boorish?)

    I will be at MCA Headquarters next Tuesday and the Registrar is an old friend, if you want to make a complaint.
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    George running in reverse for sixty seconds is I suspec fairly normal.

    There are conditions though which have to be taken into account:

    Annapolis Harbor, many people anchor outside of the mooring field. Tech. this mooring field is under the jurisdiction of the US Naval Academy. Mooring is frowned upon..This anchorage is chewed up by others setting an anchor through out the season. The bottom is really often badly chewed up and grabbing is umm if often difficult. Sixty seconds may not be enough time to really set an anchor. ..I was anchored for five days straight until there was a wind shift. Then I was dragging. As I have said, I kept a nightly watch on my anchor and caught myself dragging relatively early.Bottom line, whether one is anchored or at a mooring, it is up to the captain to be prepared..

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    " . . . the boats collided when they tried to retrieve their anchor, which had fouled the mooring." [#19] Regardless of any fault with anchoring or mooring gear, this is where the anchored vessel comes into fault.

    It would be nice to know the wind and current when the visitor anchored. With a double hook mooring, it's quite possible that Dalia was some distance from one of her moorings and, unknown to the visitor and in all good faith, they dropped their hook over your mooring chain which then, perhaps with a shift of wind, allowed their dragging anchor to pull up at least one of yours.

    If Dalia had dragged down on them, your gear would have been over theirs and the difficulty they had in getting their hook up is much less likely to have happened. This I know from witnessing similar contretemps.

    It's very easy to misestimate distance at 0300 when tired, very poor seamanship to enter any unfamiliar harbor at such a time and tired, and a continuation of poor seamanship to then snooze with no anchor watch till so long after sun-up.

    These visiting jokers rain dishonor on voyaging sailors, most of whom are more capeable, more alert, more honorable, and certainly more responsible for themselves.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    (May I express the faint hope that the British flag was a flag of convenience, and that my fellow citizens were not so boorish?)
    It is in fact a Kiwi boat, and the crew of two is half English, half Kiwi. Quite atypical of other Brits and Kiwis we have had sail by in recent years.

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    I think I'm not a bad sailor Ian..One can never call be a perfect sailor. I take as many precautions *as I can...

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    If Dalia had dragged down on them, your gear would have been over theirs and the difficulty they had in getting their hook up is much less likely to have happened. This I know from witnessing similar contretemps.
    Right. The first thing the Navy officer who spoke to us informally asked is whose gear was on top. When told that the gear had been untangled without that being established, he sort of threw his hands up and tried to persuade the British crew that a maritime tribunal was unlikely to find in their favor when all they had was conflicting witness reports to go on. A waste of taxpayers' money and the time of all involved, but they went ahead with it anyway, and were quite offended when told that Dalia would not press charges against the club alongside them. The fact that we could just as easily want to press charges on them seems to have eluded them.

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    Right. The first thing the Navy officer who spoke to us informally asked is whose gear was on top. When told that the gear had been untangled without that being established, he sort of threw his hands up and tried to persuade the British crew that a maritime tribunal was unlikely to find in their favor when all they had was conflicting witness reports to go on. A waste of taxpayers' money and the time of all involved, but they went ahead with it anyway, and were quite offended when told that Dalia would not press charges against the club alongside them. The fact that we could just as easily want to press charges on them seems to have eluded them.
    Were it I, I would press charges on them anyway. You were "minding your own business", properly moored & had had no problems until they fouled your mooring. What they did damaged your boat & there's no reason you should have to pay for it.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    George...were the boats insured? Around here, this would have probably been proclaimed an "act of God" and the damages paid out without litigation. The $ ammount just wouldn't be worth the bother. I did a survey on a boat that amounted to close to $20,000 that was damaged in similar circumstances. It was clearly not at fault and I would have thought the insurance company would seek damages, but it didn't.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Surely you can tell from Dalia's position whether she dragged down on them or not?

    I'm confused by the thought experiment switcheroo.. which boat was to windward, did it drag? Boats seldom drag upwind, but I've seen it claimed.
    Last edited by John B; 11-30-2011 at 12:41 PM.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Quote Originally Posted by John B View Post
    Surely you can tell from Dalia's position whether she dragged down on them or not?

    I'm confused by the thought experiment switcheroo.. which boat was to windward, did it drag? Boats seldom drag upwind, but I've seen it claimed.
    John, George said that the British/NZ boat found they had fouled the mooring when they tried to get their anchor; in that situation they will probably have dragged the mooring towards them.

    They may not have dragged at all; they probably just anchored in the mooring pattern of the trot and found they had a foul anchor. Estimating distances at 0300 is seldom easy.
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Like I said, when I got there the evidence was all undone.

    The UK boat says Dalia dragged her mooring over 100 meters and hit them.

    The locals say the UK boat fouled the line between the moorings, snapping it, and dragged one of them, along with Dalia, for about 50 meters before the people aboard woke up and proceeded to try to retrieve their anchor, making the boats collide.

    What I know for a fact is this:

    1) the mooring was indeed tangled to their anchor chain.

    2) there is one picture which they showed me which they say is Dalia and their boat just before the collision. The boats are some distance apart, although Dalia has obviously moved downwind from where I left her. Conditions are moderate - maybe 15 knots of wind, no whitecaps. But the interesting detail, which they hadn't noticed when they presented the picture as evidence, is that Dalia's mooring lines are both slack.

    But like I said, we will not pursue it. The damage to Dalia is light, and to the expenses applies the First Rule of the Triumvirate: omnes Dalia est divisa in tres partes.

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    A puzzling one isn't it. What's the name of the cruiser? I probably won't know it but maybe.....

    An aside which I find interesting in a quite scary way. A local lawyer has an opinion which others say has some merit regarding anchoring and the code of Oleron ( thankyou Andrew for putting a name to it).

    The accepted convention is that first boat anchored has rights over last anchored, we all know that. His contention is that as soon as you as the first or earlier boat anchored expresses concern or asks the second boat to move because they're too close etc, you are now aware that a danger exists and as such you should move to protect your own boat from damage. I have no idea whether its been tested or not but considering the source( I know him) and his standing I wouldn't be surprised at all if it has. Personally ,I regard it as an awful thought.

    edited to add, nearly as horrible a thought as the damage to Dalia, that hurts. (No doubt the other bloke is feeling the same way about his baby too I suppose.)
    Last edited by John B; 11-30-2011 at 03:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    What startles me is the dragging bit. There shouldn't be any dragging in 4 - 5, even if the chains are entangled. After all, moorings are normally laid to provide secure fixation in far stronger winds.

    But - there is one case where dragging may easily happen: The anchored boat not having enough chain down to allow for the rising tide and thus lifting the chain and anchor of the mooring with which it is entangled.

    Gentlemen, am I right to assume that the tide was higher at 9.00 than at 3.00 and that the difference was more than a few cm?
    Last edited by Henning 4148; 11-30-2011 at 03:09 PM.

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Quote Originally Posted by John B View Post
    A puzzling one isn't it. What's the name of the cruiser? I probably won't know it but maybe.....
    I would rather avoid names - I already regret having given away the nationalities involved, as the behavior is very atypical for either English or Kiwi sailors - living in Ilha Grande, we meet many of both nationalities making their way down South America.

    I will tell you that the boat is made of strip-planked kaori and is headed back to New Zealand after a spell in England, where it acquired its current flag.

  34. #34

    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    what is the tonnage and horsepower of dalia

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    29 tons, 125 hp. Full ahead she goes 7-8 knots.

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Somebody raised the issue of insurance.

    It seems unlikely that the UK registered yacht has any, or they would let the insurance company sort it out.
    There is nothing quite as permanent as a good temporary repair.

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Quote Originally Posted by Stiletto View Post
    Somebody raised the issue of insurance.

    It seems unlikely that the UK registered yacht has any, or they would let the insurance company sort it out.
    Maybe they realize that the insurance company is going to view the UK registered yacht as at fault and likely raise their rates quite a bit as a result.

  38. #38
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Dalia has the usual insurance for a backyard-built wooden boat with no plans other than a lines drawing from an original built by an uneducated fishing skipper...

    I don't know about the other vessel.

  39. #39
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Well, well. Look what the catfish brought in. I came home yesterday from the Araguaia to find this anchored in our cove:




    Less than 100 meters from Dalia's mooring - good thing she is in Rio waiting for a cracked boom to set.

    They are, however, just over fifty meters from the moorings of that mussel farm, in about eleven meters of water, and quickly drops to twenty if they drag a bit, which they will if a NW blow comes in. I am told they came in the night and anchored there. The boat was unattended all afternoon...

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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    And the plot thickens.
    Goat Island Skiff and Simmons Sea Skiff construction photos here:

    http://s176.photobucket.com/albums/w...esMan/?start=0

    and here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/37973275@N03/

    "All kings are not the same."

  41. #41
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    I am told that on leaving Buzios they motored as close as possible to the Buzios Yacht Club and roundly cursed everyone ashore in English...

  42. #42
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    A Robertson design/build.

  43. #43
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    Default Re: Dragging moorings and fouled anchors

    Strip-planked kaori, they said.

    BTW, I can see with my binoculars that they already fixed the damage. I wonder what small fraction of their claim it actually cost them.

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