Re: Anchor Setting Woes
You also asked a question about communication between "anchor crew" and helmsman.
We have worked out simple signals to indicate
anchor down (arm straight up)
reverse (arm out, crooked elbow, hand down)
add speed (hand up, make circles)
idle (arm out, flat hand, horizontal back and forth)
cut engine (hand slice across the throat)
anchor up (same as anchor down, but since you cannot do both at once, there should be no confusion with that)
forward (arm out, crooked elbow, hand up)
go in given direction (point)
I listen to the change in engine noise to verify that the helmsman (my wife) received and acted on the signal. If not, I repeat til she does (she may have briefly looked elsewhere to check relationship with other boats). I need not look back unless I feel like it.
What this does not address is when the helmsman decides we have to change or abandon the process. It has happened only a few times to us, and we have not perfected that. I think a simple whistle would alert me to look back and then go check at the cockpit what's going on, or have some signal such as
too close to other boat (point at boat, horizontal space between hands)
too shallow (vertical space between hands, narrowing)
If I come across something not covered by this, I walk back to the helmsman to say what is going on and what to do since talking from the foredeck, through a dodger, with the engine idling away requires shouting... and that is just entertainment for anyone anchored nearby.
As to the anchor set up itself, we have 100' of chain that covers us for most of our anchorages, supplemented with 150' of line, only 20-30' of which has ever been in the water. The more chain, the happier (and more mud collected, of course). If you constantly deal with mud (we do not) I would certainly invest in a high power bow hose-down!