single handed anchoring

  • March 10, 2011 3:05 PM
    Message # 543249

    In an old post we talked about arriving at an anchorage and getting the anchor down and set singlehanded. Several Westsailors added their input on their methods. In this post we will talk about getting that anchor back aboard the boat to continue on to the next special anchorage. In a perfect world after the anchor is set you watch the sunset and get a good nights sleep. When morning arrives you hoist the mainsail and sail up to the anchor working the windlass as you go. Once the anchor is up you sail out of the anchorage on your way.

    Unfortunately it’s not always like that. You may anchor at the north end of the bay expecting a north wind that night. At 0200 you awake to a strong south wind now putting you on a lee shore. The wind traveling across the bay has enough fetch to cause short steep waves that are making your boat buck like a bull at the rodeo. While hoping it won’t get any worse, it does.

    GET OUT OF THERE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE ! When working the windlass to remove the snubber you now find that the boat is snapping up hard on the anchor chain trying to pull the windlass off of the deck. Let the strain back on the snubber and get some mainsail up. If it’s blowing stink it may take a combination of mainsail and slow forward revs to take the strain off the chain. Be sure to have some main up though or when the anchor breaks out the boat will immediately turn downwind and head for the lee shore you are trying to avoid. Once most of the strain is off the chain you will be able to get the anchor up and sail on out. When anchoring anywhere be sure to note the compass course out of the anchorage and noting where the rocks are.

    All comments are welcome. Lee -anchored Sea Of Cortez Mexico

  • March 10, 2011 7:29 PM
    Reply # 543359 on 543249
    Deleted user

    Hola Lee

    I bet this is the voice of experience on your trip heading North. Hope all is well.


    Doug and Jody

  • January 23, 2012 10:43 AM
    Reply # 805473 on 543249
    Nanette Blish

    When it's time to raise the anchor, I always have the main up with the main sheet free and the engine running.  Fortunately I have never had to raise the anchor in any serious wind or seas.  My windlass is manual, so it takes a while.  So far I have found the drift factor to be minimal from the time the anchor is free to actually back on deck and made fast despite a signigicant breeze.  Haven't bumped a boat or a bottom and I don't intend to.

    My biggest problem (which is easily fixed) is that by the time I come back to the helm the main sheet is all fouled up - usually on the grill.


  • January 23, 2012 2:12 PM
    Reply # 805631 on 543249
    You're doing the right thing but the main sheet need not be entirely loose.  Let out enough for the boom to swing +-30 degrees, then make the main sheet fast.  

    Also, once the anchor is free from the bottom, you can pull it up by hand faster than the windlass does it.