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  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-16-2014 05:30 PM
Re: Anchoring under sail

I learned to anchor on an engineless Rhodes 19; I thought it was the pinnacle of boat handling until I tried docking a "big boat" on a gusty day. Never single handed but often with only lubbers aboard. My fresh breeze procedure was thus (light and medium seems pretty well covered):
  • Have the crew get the anchor ready way early. It was in a bag so I watched everything like a hawk in the cockpit.
  • Attach the bitter end myself. Have a float on the bitter end in case I need to ditch the anchor and come back for it for any reason.
  • Take the jib down in all but the lightest winds so the bow person doesn't get smacked around
  • Leave the main up until everything is verified secure. Blow the Vang
  • Sail the boat to where we want to anchor, drop the anchor seconds before the boat stops.
  • Verify vang is free
  • The wind, waves and current might not let you sail backward with any sail configuration. The bow will blow down until the main wants to power up on a reach. If it's too soon to control the bow with the rode, right before she powers up sheet in and turn her back into the wind quickly. Resume drifting downwind.
  • Let out the rest of the scope controlling the bow with the anchor line
  • Once the anchor is set with proper scope backwind the main to make sure it's set
  • Start considering dropping the main

Sometimes I'd be suspicious of how set the anchor was so I'd get the crew seated, sail up a few boat lengths to get room, get some way on and bear down on the rode and really set it. Make sure the crew is seated for this and it can be a lot of fun.

When I was teaching this other sailors had the hardest time with sailing backwards even when conditions were good and it couldn't be done when conditions (mostly waves) were bad so I simply stopped teaching it. That and I judged it dangerous for inexperienced crew to be trusted to hold the boom to windward in a breeze.

If you had the anchor and rode at the helm, led the anchor forward through a chock on the bow and then back to the helm (outside everything) you'd could deploy it without leaving the helm and still be able to use it to control the bow while backing down. Take enough extra line through the bow chock so the anchor will proceed directly to the bottom once heaved. I only observed anchoring under sail going really wrong when the skipper left the helm so I'd try to work it out so I didn't have to venture outside the cockpit until things were settled.

For getting free usually we'd just raise the main, haul in the anchor at the bow and then sail away. I often did the bow work and sailing away because of crew strength and anchor damaging boat concerns, even on windier days. I just had to do it quickly especially near a lee shore. If there was a problem I'd have to sail slowly (dragging the anchor) clear of the hazards and then fix the anchor problem later. Or ditch the anchor, fix the problems and then come back for the anchor (you attached the float right?).

I'd love to hear how other people got free of a lee shore engine-less in a fresh breeze singlehanded.... This "tag line" concept seems workable. Ideally, whatever you do for weighing anchor needs to be able to be rigged before you heave anchor lest you catch a tire instead of the bottom and have to weigh anchor immediately.
08-05-2014 03:17 PM
Re: Anchoring under sail

Originally Posted by ottos View Post
Just don't forget to have the bitter end secured, no matter how much rode you are planning to use!
So I've been told!

Yes, I secured near the bitter end, put out as much rode as felt right, then tied it off again.

I guess my next project can be to put indicators on the rode so I can tell how much I'm putting out, instead of "Oh, sure, that's probably 7 to 1. Maybe."
08-05-2014 03:09 PM
Re: Anchoring under sail

Just don't forget to have the bitter end secured, no matter how much rode you are planning to use!
08-04-2014 06:49 PM
Re: Anchoring under sail

Slick! Nary an engine noise to be heard.
08-04-2014 06:34 PM
Re: Anchoring under sail

I took all your good advice and anchored easily yesterday.

Sunday was nice and sunny with 5-10 knots of wind. There were five people on the boat, a new record for me. I dropped the jib and sailed along on main only. When I got to where I wanted to anchor I turned head-to-wind and loosed the mainsheet. Keeping an eye on the boom, I walked up with the anchor, tied it off, and dropped it. The bow of the boat wanted to blow off, but even right away the anchor gave enough drag to keep the boat head to wind. As we drifted backwards I payed out more rode, stopping sometimes to feel it jerk.

I didn't bother backwinding the sail to really set it, it felt like it had a good firm set the way it was. We weren't staying overnight or anything, and the winds were light, so it was good the way it was.

We swam off the back for about an hour, the anchor held, and all was right with the world
07-26-2014 07:17 PM
Re: Anchoring under sail

Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Anchoring a small boat while under sail is not particularly challenging once one knows how one’s boat behaves in various winds. Perhaps the easiest method is similar to that used to pick up a mooring. For that, needs to know how far the boat will carry her way, head to wind at various speeds and in various wind conditions. With that, one sails on a broad reach under main only, which is the easiest point of sail to manage the boat on, particularly when in an anchorage with other boats. One reaches across the anchorage, down wind of the mooring by the distance the boat will carry her way. When directly down wind of the mooring one tacks head to wind, allowing the main to luff while the boat carries her way up to the mooring where the bowman grabs the mooring with a boat hook and makes her fast. If one is single handing this can be accomplished by sailing past the mooring and hooking the mooring from the cockpit and, with that walking the mooring line to the bow.

Anchoring a small boat can be accomplished in the same manner with a little preparation, which one can make with the yacht hove too. Firstly, one collects the anchor and sufficient rode to get the anchor back to the cockpit, leading the rode “outside” all the lines, of course. With that, one flakes out additional anchor rode on the foredeck of sufficient length for the anchorage at a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio for the depth of the anchorage plus freeboard and makes the rode fast to ones bow cleat or Sampson post. The line should be flaked so that it will run out cleanly as a strain is taken on the line by the ground tackle.

With these preparations complete, one tacks around, secures the jib and approaches the anchorage point on a reach in the same manner one does a mooring. When directly down wind of the anchorage point, ones tacks head to wind, allows the main to luff, and when the boat comes to a stop, drops the anchor over the side. By leaving the mainsheet slack, the yacht will fall back. To aid that, one can push the main out somewhat by hand, or with a boat hook, until she develops some way and one is thereby “sailing in reverse”. With this, the rode flaked out on the bow will feed out in an orderly fashion until the line is fully deployed at which point the strain on the line will set the hook. (Unless of course, you have picked a poor spot and dropped your anchor on grass/weed or cobbles, in which case you’ll have to recover the gear and start over at another location!)

We used the foregoing method on boats from 22 to 30+ feet for many years without difficulty once we had a little practice (best done in an anchorage empty of other yachts for the first few times). More important than knowing how to deploy the anchor under sail, is knowing how to recover it, without breaking one’s back. That’s another story…

More important than knowing how to deploy the anchor under sail, is knowing how to recover it, without breaking one’s back. That’s another story…
If you don't want to go up on the bow you can put a "tag" line on the anchor line, about a boat length out from the bow, back to the cockpit. Motor/sail upwind slightly off the wind/current, if any, pull the anchor line into the cockpit until over the anchor, then break it loose. Be careful not to run directly over the anchor line as it will end up in the prop, very bad. We used this method for years on our fishing boat, which had a windshield on it, making it difficult to work over.

Paul T
07-26-2014 05:00 PM
Re: Anchoring under sail

Forget the anchor; just 'heave to' and enjoy lunch. Don't have to get the anchor out or take any sails down. I did that many times on a small lake in W. PA years ago.
07-26-2014 12:49 PM
Anchoring under sail

As someone else pointed out, try leaving the mainsheet loose as you coast to a stop to drop the hook.
If the bow falls off to port or starboard the boat won't try to sail on.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
07-21-2014 01:57 PM
Re: Anchoring under sail

Thanks everyone!

Fortunately I'm on an underused lake, so I can practice things without having to worry about other boats too much. Saturday afternoon was great sailing, the airport reported 12 knots with occasional gusts to 20. We were out from 2pm till about 6pm and much of the time we were the only boat on the lake. It did look like it might rain, maybe that scared people away.

So I guess I'll try a few of these ideas and see what works best for this boat. The bottom is sandy mud and from my vast experience (twice) it seems like the Danforth-style anchor holds well.

Thanks again for all your help!
07-20-2014 06:28 PM
Re: Anchoring under sail

I've anchored under sail in my 31ft wooden boat, and in my 41ft heavy fiberglass boat. Neither time was planned or voluntary.

I've tried using both sails, and I've tried main only. Main only is much better IMHO. A big genoa can be grabbed by the clew and moved to make a "U shape" which helps you sail backwards, but it also really gets in the way of the foredeck work. If you're using main only, the fore-deck is clear.

Other things to consider include anchor choice and how your boat behaves at anchor. My 41ft boat's bow would always get blown off and it would sail around at anchor if I didn't keep the mizzen up. This was used to my advantage as the sailing at anchor would bring the rode up short and load the rode to help "power set" it. The 31ft boat would just drift back. In order to set this one, I would allow it to get to the end of the road and then heave mightily on the rode until the boat moved forward.

Anchor selection is something to think about as well. In both cases where I anchored under sail, danforth style anchors were used. I do NOT think these are the best choice because they need some significant pulling force in order to "trip the flukes" and get them to dig in. I would think that a newer generation anchor, delta, or bruce would be better. If you do use a danforth style, just make sure to use short scope in the beginning and haul on it enough to move the boat forward several times in order to help set it.

I never have bothered running the anchor lines back to the cockpit. When you go forward to deploy the anchor you are in irons and the boat is not under control anyway, so who cares if you drift backwards. Besides, drifting is what you want to do at this point...

It's really much easier than it seems.

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