The longer we spend on the Pacific, however, the more convinced I am that we cruisers also need a Ralf Rolliness Scale. This 0 to 6 scale would describe the degree of comfort found at an anchorage based on the amount of bounciness. An anchorage can be quite comfortable with little or no swell, or you can bounce around like the rubber ball on the end of child’s paddle toy. Discomfort comes from the wakes of passing boats, ocean swell, wind fetch, tide and current. Just as wind changes on a daily basis, the Ralf Rolliness rating in a given anchorage can change from day to day, even from hour to hour.
Some anchorages, however, consistently suck. I for one would really like the cruising books to be more explicit about the amount of suckage. I’d also like to be able to get on the VHF and say, “Hey everyone, you know that little place next to Wharf #2 in Monterey Bay that’s supposed to be so comfortable even if there is a NW swell? Well, we’re here in a Ralf 4. Do not venture in. We’re abandoning our anchor early this morning.”
Or how about: “This morning we are waiting out a truly heinous low pressure system in San Simeon. This is the most beautiful spot we have anchored since Native Anchorage in Knight Inlet. Fortunately, the bay provides reasonably good shelter from the prevailing (and in this case storm driven) north westerly. There is a mild Ralf 1 swell from the south, shading to Ralf 2 when the breeze pushes us beam on to the swell.”
See how useful that would be? Let me take a first stab at formalizing the Ralf Rolliness Scale: