Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Re: Anchoring single handed whilst hove to?
I anchor my 38 footer routinely single-hand under sail. Basically I have two methods that I use, semi-conventional and dead stick. In my semi-conventional approach I come in only under my mainsail with enough speed that the boat will carry and stop perhaps 30-50 feet to windward of where I want the anchor to be. In preparation I pre-coil the main halyard with a figure 8 so it will run freely and do the same with the anchor rode.
Then I turn up into the wind, lock the helm on center, blow the halyard, pull down as much sail as I can quickly before moving forward. On my boat I need to remove the anchor from the locker, feed the anchor through the pulpit and over the roller which I do quickly. When I am a few feet shy of where I want the anchor to end up I drop the hook and carefully feed out the chain until I get to the nylon rode (roughly 40 feet) and then once the chain is below the hull I snub the line to stretch the chain and then uncleat the line again. I then go back and make up the mainsail on the boom allowing time for the boat to stop and pay off to one side and begin to pick up speed paying out anchor rode as she goes. When I get the right amount of line out, I snub the line around a cleat to slow the speed of the boat and set the anchor... you can pretty much tell if she set, but if not, I let out more line, let her fall back and then I hand over hand the anchor line into the boat, and do that fall off and build speed maneuver again until she does.
The dead-stick is a bit more risky in some ways but works better in anchorages where the anchor is harder to set. Here I drop sail perhaps a hundred yards almost dead upwind of where I want the anchor set, then kick the helm over and head back for the spot where I want to anchor with the wind from astern. As the boat builds up speed, I walk forward and like before feed the anchor and lower away perhaps 30-40 feet from where I want the anchor to set, only this time I feed out the rode carefully since there's a lot more speed involved. Once I have enough rode plus some for good measure I tension the line and use momentum of the boat to set the hook. This takes some practice since you don't want to tension the line too quickly or you will snap the anchor out of the bottom, or too slowly where you won't have enough momentum to set the hook.
If in doubt, If I am feeling energetic I don't crank the engine, but walk the anchor line aft so that I am about amidships, and that will cause the boat to swing perpendicular to the anchor line and then I lean into the line pulling perpendicular to the keel to set the hook. If it doesn't feel like it is setting I will get under way under sail and try again. If I lack the energy to do all of that, once the boat has swung bow to wind, I start the engine, either back her down or else pull up the hook and reset it.
Getting under way, I pull up most of my rode so that I have perhaps a 1:2 scope. Then I raise the main about a 1/3 of the way up, which holds the boat head to wind and leaves me less sail to hoist, Then I tension the rode vertically and clean the mud off the deck with a bucket on a rope and brush. The vertical tension usually is enough to break the anchor out of the bottom. Once the anchor off the bottom, the bow usually pays off to one side and the boat starts to build to steerage speed. Once the anchor is stowed I walk back to the cockpit and throw the helm over hard to leeward, the boat will pay off and build speed and then spin around in a circle with enough speed to come close to head to wind and I raise the sail as fast as I can once the boat is above a beam reach so that its up and full by the time the boat is head to wind.
I then quickly make up the main sheet and roll out the jib, back it or fill it to bear away to the side that I want to go and I am off. Timing is important and getting to know your boat and ground tackle before doing this in a crowded anchorage is also a good idea. Otherwise...
(I should note that I am doing this on a very maneuverable, moderately light displacement 38 footer. I am not sure that a dead stick approach would be the best idea on a larger, heavier boat since there is less acceleration and steering capability and of course the ground tackle is much heavier.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay
Last edited by Jeff_H; 11-06-2019 at 06:54 PM.