Endless Blue – Week 87.1 – Floatsam: Anchors in the Deep   Leave a comment


Anchors in the Deep

Most of the sea floor is a thick muck of silt, sand, and other particles.  While there are occasions where rock protrudes out of the silt or is simply heavy enough that it overcomes buoyancy, the majority of the ocean floor is softer than tilled soil.  When the buoyancy of an item cannot be altered, then pisceans use anchors to keep things in place.

Staying still is a difficult task under the waves.  An awoken piscean can constantly make the subtle inner adjustments to his buoyancy and movement to overcome the streams of currents that swirl throughout the oceans of the Known World.  But eventually everyone needs to sleep, and during slumber there is no innate way to keep from being washed away.  This problem led to the creation of anchors.

Anchors work in three ways: the density of the anchor, length of the cable, and the shape of the anchor.

The first is the simplest: a dense enough anchor has a low buoyancy, so it sinks.  This is essentially tying a stone to an item and letting it sink.  The sheer weight of the anchor overcomes the inertia caused by the constant flow of currents that would normally keep items from drifting away.

The second is similar: the length of the cable accumulates weight the longer it extends, and disperses the pull of the current over that length.  Long enough, and the cable overcomes buoyancy.

The last is more complicated: an anchor can hold down due to its weight, but also because of it’s shape.  The tip of the anchor, the piton, can be wedged into rock, using the friction between anchor and rock to add the rock’s weight to the cable.  But when exposed rock of sufficient size is unavailable, the hook-curved flanges on the anchor can dig into the sandy floor and contribute that drag to the cable.  This combined resistance overcomes inertia and prevent the anchored object from floating away.

This is why traveling along established paths is important, as anchor points have been installed along the most traveled routes.  Like milestones, these shafts are implanted deep into the sediment, and can withstand multiple tethers at once.  Embedded deep into the rock below the sediment, travelers will use these markers to latch their tents to at night.  Groups of clustered tents, like balloons, sway in the current as the occupants sleep.  Without the anchors, the unconscious would be carried away with the tide.

Anchoring is also employed in furniture design.  Normally furniture would be created to be non-buoyant, but what is negatively buoyant near the Shore is most likely positively buoyant at the bottom of the Shelf.  In these cases, furniture would be anchored to the floors and walls.  This results in a kind of reverse-swing chair, with the furniture chained or cabled to the foundation with several ropes, like a hot-air balloon.  These connections are usually permanent fixtures in lower-income homes, but higher income buildings might have cotter pin or flanged connector.

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