How to anchor the boat in all conditions


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Still boat
Anchor boat, how to sail it in any condition

Boating is not easy, and before going on the water we need to know at least the basic maneuvers even if the boat we are driving does not require a license. For example, on a speedboat with a 40-horsepower outboard you anchor in a bay and enjoy the sunset. As soon as it comes time to anchor, do you know what maneuvers to do and especially which ones to avoid?

Here is, situation by situation, how to do it correctly and handle the most common emergencies, in perfect autonomy.

Anchor boat: how to sail it in all conditions

On a boat less than 10 meters long, with little or no wind, it is easy to retrieve by hand first the chain and then the anchor. On the other hand, if there is wind or sea, without a winch, it is imperative to release the chain tension by engaging the forward motor in order to raise the anchor by hand. Before starting the engine, wait until the boat is as much as possible with the bow facing the wind direction. Set the pilot on course then give it just enough engine power to loosen the chain tension, and go to the bow to raise the anchorage.


-Putting wind in your stern to settle your bow (engine in reverse)

The anchor is out of the water, the anchor is on board, and the chain is arranged in bulk on the bow. Do not start again until everything is clear! If free space for anchoring is limited, you need to stabilize the boat by being sure you can maneuver quickly. The best way to do this is to face the stern into the wind with the reverse gear engaged, the rudder locked on axis, and the throttle knob set so that the boat does not move. In this way the wind pushes you to one side, but the motor counteracts so that the boat stays in the wind axis as if it were tied to a dead body. At this point you can go back to the bow and fix everything.

The importance of putting yourself stern to the wind if the anchor shifts

You can also go stern to the wind before you have fully up the chain. In order to rotate, however, the boat must be relatively free in its movements: it is not enough to be down on the anchor, but the boat must no longer be anchored. As much chain as the length of the boat, plus anchor in the water. Both weigh on the bow of the boat and make, in windy conditions, the maneuver a bit tricky: if you try to rotate by shifting directly into reverse, the boat will quickly get stuck sideways in the wind.

For this you have to operate in two stages: first in forward gear to turn the boat (the anchor and chain hanging in front, braking, will come to your aid) and only later to put it in reverse gear, to find yourself with the wind at the stern. A small stroke forward to start tacking and immediately backward. However, one should not attempt to put stern to the wind as long as the anchor keeps the boat tied to the bottom (before having raised the anchor).

The risk, even if you manage to get the wind in your sails, is that a slightly strong gust will start the boat. At that point, if you do not assess your position well, you risk becoming entangled in your anchorage, with the chain stretching under the boat with the propeller turning

Still boat: don’t try to force it through the snout

When the anchor reaches the snout it hangs vertically, and the horizontal pull exerted by the chain will struggle to straighten it so that the anchor rod slides horizontally into the snout. You should not exert a horizontal pulling force, but an upward pull, and for this you will need to lift the anchor by hand. Maneuvering is easier with a tilting snout, which exerts a diagonal pull.

A 75-centimeter line tied to the anchor head

It is often difficult to free the anchor from the snout to set it up. Always keep a small line tied to the head of the boat anchor, leaving the other end free for ease of operation: before the rod fits into the snout, lock the chain, take hold of the line: at this point you are in a convenient position to hoist the anchor to deck level (without running it through the snout) and drop it directly into the locker. The line can be made of floating fiber (polypropylene): so it will not run the risk of snagging when the anchor is on the bottom.

Anchor boat: how to lift it at night

Raising the anchor is not easy when the wind reaches 20 knots and there is some sea, even if you have an electric reel. Here is a possible situation:

It is about 3 a.m. You are dancing and realize that the wind has strengthened to force 4/5 and is creating a substantial wave; you then decide to return to port (you were anchored with 6/7 meters of bottom, 18 meters of chain to which 10 meters of line was added). To raise the anchor, you act as usual: motor, electric reel engaged, autopilot in the windage axis, a good stroke of the motor and run to the bow. The deck skims the water when the wave arrives and the boat is already at 45 degrees of the wind and 90 degrees of the top. Then let it spin about 5 meters to tie it again. You are forced to start over.

Put on your gloves and begin the maneuver again by advancing the boat a little further until it is perpendicular to the anchor and then give it a little gas. Although a bit of a struggle, you should be able to retrieve the 10 meters of line by hand; the boat continues to put itself at 45 degrees of the wind. Put the chain back into the pulley at the bow, then into the anchor windlass. It is not easy because it moves and pulls hard. You must not let it spin when the boat goes up the wave and you must take advantage of the moments when it goes down to pick it up again! The electric anchor windlass does its job, but again one must take advantage of the moments when the boat goes down to retrieve the chain; especially when the time to pull the anchor out of the water is approaching. From there on, it’s game on!

When it pays to leave the anchor but not to lose it

Imagine being in the summertime, in a crowded roadstead. Suddenly here is a wind shift that causes several boats anchored near you to lose their grip. It is time to leave, but the anchor windlass is missing, and the wind and sea are too strong to retrieve the anchorage on their own. Salvation lies in letting go of the anchor: get a fender (with the boat’s name written on it) and a line that is a little longer than the depth of the water. Put the line between the chain and the fender (anywhere on the chain) and cut the binding with a knife. The chain at that point is free and the whole thing falls into the water. You will calmly return later to retrieve the anchorage.



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