TECHNIQUE It’s time to sail the anchor! How to do it?


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Here is, situation by situation, how to raise the anchor properly and handle the most common emergencies, in perfect autonomy.


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, swinging first to one side then the other by the wind, is as bow to the wind as possible. Set the pilot on course then give throttle, just enough to loosen the chain tension, and go to the bow to raise the anchor.


1- Put 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 set up with the wind in the stern, the reverse gear engaged, the rudder locked on axis, and the throttle knob set so that the boat does not move. The boat stays in the wind axis and is remarkably stable (as if it were tied to a dead body). At this point you can go back to the bow and fix everything.

2- The importance of putting yourself stern to the wind if the anchor shakes.

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, the anchor must have moved off the bottom, the boat must no longer be anchored. Roughly speaking, one will then find oneself in this situation: as much chain as the length of the boat, plus the 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 getting tangled up in your anchorage, with the chain stretching under the boat with the propeller turning…

3 – The do-it-yourself anchor windlass.

This is a hook attached to the end of a line equivalent in length to three quarters of the boat. Hook the hook to one link of the chain and pass the other end of the line over one winch of the sheets, then retrieve 5 meters of it; at this point, block the chain at the exit of the bow pulpit with a second hook or hook, release the tensile hook and replace it in front; retrieve another 5 meters of chain and so on.

4- Do not try to force the anchor 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.

5 -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 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.

Raising the anchor is not easy when the wind reaches 20 knots and there is some swell, even if you have an electric reel at your disposal. In the following lines we will propose a situation that can really happen to everyone. It’s about 3 a.m., you dance around and realize that the wind has strengthened to force 4/5 and is creating quite a swell; 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 run about 5 meters to tie it again. againo. 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

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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