Single handed

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Single Handed Anchoring

single handed anchoring?

Here''s my method. I usually know where I am going to anchor and in what depth. Before I arrive on the spot I pull out the scope I need and cleat it. I then motor to the spot I want and then stop the boat, go to the bow and drop the anchor. I then return to the helm. Whenever possible I let the wind straighten out the rode and initially set the anchor. I''ve seen counless people try to power their anchors into the bottom unsuccessfully. After the rode has straightend and the anchor has begun to bite I then set it in reverse. First slowly and then with increasing power.
I single-handedly anchor with out running the engine quite frequently. My technique is anything but textbook. Typically I will get rid of the jib and prepare the anchor rode so that it will feed out easily while I have sea room. My boat sails quite well under mainsail alone. Then I pick out a spot where I want to anchor and will make a couple passes through the general area where I want to drop the hook trying to get a sense of the water depth and any sharp changes in the bottom contour. Once I have picked the spot where I want to drop my anchor I sail across that spot on a close reach turning up into the wind roughly where I want to drop my anchor and as soon as I turn head to wind I go to the mast and I pull down my mainsail quickly as I can. I then walk back to the helm an put it hard over dead down wind and over the spot that I want to put my anchor. The boat will be moving quite slowly dead down wind by this point. I then walk to the bow and when I get maybe 10 feet from where I want my anchor to set I lower it to the bottom and slowly feed out the rode being careful not to snub it until I have maybe 8:1 to 10:1 scope out and then I slowly snub the rode against the momentum of the boat. At first you will feel the rode and chain stretch out along the bottom but as you start to feel the rode snug up put more an more pressure against the rode. As you do the boat will start to veer. Before you snub hard you want to make sure that the rode is not caught on your keel or rudder and that is streaming clear to one side or the other. It is at that point that you sunb up with increasing tension which should set the hook. You will feel the boat round up sharply when the anchor grabs. I usually wait until the boat swings head to wind an then using the inertia of the boat set the anchor by pulling the boat forward fast enough to get a little speed on then letting the line feed out as the boat veers off. I then snub the line against the momentum as the wind carries the boat down wind again. When all of that is done, and the boat is settled bow to wind, if you have any doubts about how well the anchor has set, you can back down the engine to set it a bit more. 

More to the original question of setting the anchor single-handed using the engine:
It has been mentioned that flaking out your estimated scope on the foredeck and cleating it off will eliminate the need for a bowman.

An alternative is to run the rode through (by this I mean under the horns and between the legs of a cleat, employing it as a fairlead, rather like a footballer running between the goalposts in the endzone) or fairlead on the bow, then carry the line back to the cockpit and throw a couple of turns around a jib winch. Now you''re both bowman and helmsman, but can stay in the cockpit where the engine controls are.

Using the "pre-cleated" technique, it''s all automatic, as long as the rode runs off the deck freely and doesn''t foul on anything; using the "bowman/helmsman" technique is a bit messier, but you can let the rode run right out of your hand and snub as you choose as you back down.

Hope this is helpful,

I single hand quite a bit in the Chesapeake. What I do, though not elegant, works very well... I put my #8 Danforth in a plastic bin and keep it in the cockpit with me. When I''m ready to anchor, I drop it off the stern and cleat it at the coaming. I set it manually (the bay is full of primordial mud), then walk it to the bow and let out the desired scope.

If I feel the need to set two anchors, I use a similar procedure, but set the first from the stern, then motor near to the spot where I wanna put the #13 down, chop power and move forward to set the second anchor - knowing I won''t drift farther than the rode I have out at the stern already.
Having the anchor line flaked down on deck while motoring seems like pretty risky business to me. I''ve heard of more than one boat ending as a total loss after the engine was stopped by line in the prop.

If you don''t have a chain locker or a deck locker near the bow that the line can run from, I recommend stowing the line in a cockpit locker or the lazarette. Shackle it to the anchor on the bow just before entering the anchorage, making sure it is stopped in the cockpit and don''t let the stopper go until the last minute. As a last resort dump the line in the cockpit well (neatly) and let it run from there. And watch your feet!

As an aside, I''ve never found it necessary to flake or coil a synthetic anchor line. As long as it''s piled fairly carefully with the running end on top, it runs smoothly with rarely a hiccup. My experience has been (since 1970) that coiled line is more likely to tangle when let go. When in doubt experiment, before crunch time.

Have fun.

On my old boat I kept the anchors and rode in a cockpit locker since I didn''t have a bow locker. I would put it on a cleat in the cockpit and set it, then walk it up to the bow cleats then release the cockpit cleats.
On the current boat I try to be going slowly backwards downwind or the direction that I think will be downwind when the wind blows hardest. Then I go forward and drop the hook before the bow falls off. The key thing is to always be sure that the anchor line is clear of the boat before I take the motor out of neutral.

I have looked at two boats this summer that had electric windlass with a remote up/down switch in the cockpit. A nice thing if you had an electric windlass. They also had anchor washdowns which also looked nicer than my seeing how long I can dip the anchor before I have to go back to the cockpit and control the boat. If its really windy or crowded I throw the whole gloppy thing in the locker and try not to touch anything (mainsheet,steering wheel) until I can at least rinse my hands off.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information. I have yet to anchor single-handed, but hopefully it won't be a huge flop when I try!