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Old 30-11-2008, 18:38   #1
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single handed anchoring

I have a manual windlass, SL 555, on a 42' boat with 200' of chain.

Unless it's dead calm or I'm in a very big anchorage with LOTS of room, I can't imagine how I'd get the anchor down singlehanded. Letting the clutch fly sends the anchor down pretty fast if I'm not there slipping the clutch. So it would seem I would have to have the boat moving slightly back when I start the chain out. Simple enough if it's calm but with any breeze or in a tight spot that all seems way to easy to run into issues.

Experiences?
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Old 30-11-2008, 19:10   #2
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By "manual" do you mean that it does not go into reverse?
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Old 30-11-2008, 19:13   #3
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I wouldnt think you would have too much of a problem unless youre anchoring in deep water. I bet you can smoothly drop 30' of chain before the weather backs you down 10', and in a breeze practice allowing the boat to continue its forward momentum (in neutral) while heading forward to the windless. Its all about timing.

Practice doing it before you have to.
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Old 30-11-2008, 19:23   #4
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I had exactly the same setup for many years in the Caribbean and along the U.S. East Coast: 42' 28K displacement sloop, 200' 3/8" HT chain, SL55 manual windlass. Very often sailed singlehanded.

It's really no problem. Here are the steps:

1. Before you get to the anchorage, make sure your anchor is ready to deploy quickly. I often "cocked" it over the bow roller, so it would go out easily without any jamming.

2. Scout out the anchorage very carefully, and decide where -- exactly -- you wish to place your anchor.

3. Approach that place upwind...slowly but deliberately.

4. Know which way your propwalk works in reverse. Mine walks to starboard, so I'll plan on getting to the anchorage with my bow aiming a bit to the right of the wind. That way, when I kick the engine in reverse and rev it a bit to get the boat stopped and moving slowly backwards, the stern will pull in the right direction, leaving the bow pretty much into the wind.

5. Put the engine in neutral and walk to the bow, quickly letting out chain as the boat moves backwards with the wind. Many boats, including mine, will have their bow blow off the wind quickly. This isn't a problem.

6. Don't put a strain on the chain until you have at least 2:1 scope. Then, slowly, put a bit of strain on it. Let the boat's motion do the job.

7. Then, slowly let out more scope until you have 3:1 or more.

8. Walk back to the engine controls, and put the engine in reverse...gently.

Depending on which anchor you are using, you may wish to apply more power in reverse to "set" the anchor, or you may wish to wait and watch a bit and apply some power later.

Deploying the anchor is the easy part. Getting it back in is harder with a manual windlass, which is why I went to an electric one as I got older and less able to put out the required energy on the SL55.

Bill
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Old 30-11-2008, 19:51   #5
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Bill
That's about what I figured the drill would be. It sounds fine in benign conditions but rather hairy if there's a breeze up.
I hadn't thought about retrieval! I always get some assistance from the helmsman(woman)(admiral)(boss)(ballnchain)(signifi cant other)(life partner)(wife unit)(better half) on the throttle.
Ratcheting the chain up isn't much work when I don't have to pull a boat along with it. I guess I'd better keep her around. At least until I get an electric!!!
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Old 30-11-2008, 20:26   #6
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Yeah, it's always easier with another person aboard.

However, the "event" which decided me to replace the manual windlass with an electric one took place in the Grenadines, and I had another crewmember aboard.

It was a very, very windy anchorage, with boats blowing all about and some dragging. I misjudged the placement of my anchor, which became apparent when we fell back on it. After watching a bit, it was clear we had to move.

Getting that anchor up was a bear. The depth was greater than I like, but there wasn't room to anchor in shallow water. My crew was a bit younger than I, but he had to work very hard at the windlass while I kept the boat under control with the engine. It was blowing 35-40 knots at the time during a period of "Christmas winds", and it wasn't fun.

Reflecting upon that experience, I decided that the ability to move anchoring spots quickly and in adverse conditions is more than a convenience....it's a safety factor, too. Especially, since if it's relatively easy to do (pushing a button with a hefty electric windlass), you're much more likely to do it, while if it's difficult you may not, and may therefore risk a bad situation.

Anyway, 11 years later I'm still very happy with my electric windlass :-))

Bill
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Old 30-11-2008, 20:47   #7
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Electric windlasses are not designed for single handers either. Read the instructions on most all windlasses and they tell you in no uncertain terms to NOT use the windlass to pull the boat up to the anchor. So for single handers it is important to be able to raise the anchor while driving the boat up to it and then you need to break it out and get it back on the bow roller. manual or electric anchoring is a lot of work for a single hander. But it is done all of the time with great success. It just takes practice and planning.
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Old 30-11-2008, 20:55   #8
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Hi Gittinthere,

Bill definitely has the procedure. If singlehanded, #! is key. If the anchor isn't ready to drop then all else is moot.

When singlehanding in the Bahamas I worked out a technique for setting two anchors if interested.

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Old 30-11-2008, 21:05   #9
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Chuck Baier,
I beg to differ. I single hand and use an electric windlass. Couldn't anchor as I do without it - and that includes all chain and a fairly heavy anchor.

You don't use a windlass to pull a boat. What you do is take out the catenary "slack" which will cause the boat to move forward to the anchor, as the boat moves forward you take up more of the slack and this keeps the momentum.

In heavy winds when the boat is shearing about this certainly takes time as there is often little catenary. There would be none if the anchor line/rode were taut. In that case you would have to use some motor to make way toward the anchor. But you still can use a windlass with a cockpit remote switch AND be at the helm (even use your auto pilot - I suppose).

I have anchored single hand for 20 years with an electric windlass and would never have a boat without one, and consider it essential single handed gear for a cruising yacht.

I recently had my sailing mate who had a Le Compte 45 without a windlass and he had lots of trouble with his anchor. He sailed with me for several weekends and saw my windlass at work, and my anchoring technique and was amazed at how well I can anchor (single handed) and sorry he never had one. Of course he was paranoid that we would drag, which we didn't. He just had too many bad anchoring experiences (bad sets) and probably not all chain.
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Old 30-11-2008, 22:08   #10
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Chuck,

Yes, defjef is right. And, you're correct that windlasses are not designed to pull the boat. However, you DON'T pull the boat.

You use the catenary, as defjef suggested. And, you use the engine where necessary to relieve strain on the chain.

I have a cockpit-mounted switch for the windlass, so I can operate the engine controls, steering, and windlass at the same time.

Under most conditions, though, all that is necessary is to be patient and take chain in slowly and in stages, allowing the boat's movements and the chain catenary to relieve most of the strain.

Then, when you're up-and-down (right over the anchor) you just use the engine in forward or reverse GENTLY to break out the anchor. Doesn't take much. Thereafter, the windlass is perfectly capable of handling the remaining chain and the anchor.

Bill
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Old 30-11-2008, 23:32   #11
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I single handed anchor a lot and do what Bill does, except the motor part, it would struggle to pull the skin off a rice pudding.

I just pick my spot, aim at it and when the boat slows to to almost stopped I wonder up the front and deploy. On the odd occasion I have deployed a fraction earlier and used the anchor rode to slow the last bit. Timed well I can get my anchor onto the seabed while the boat is still in between going forward and being pushed back. Can't do that on all boats due to bow shapes though.

When leaving I get ready, pull anchor up until it's just about to free the seabed, give the motor a small squirt forward just to get the momentum from being backwards to 'just' forwards and then retrieve the rest.

It's all about the timing.

On my current boat I don't have a winch so it's all manual and sometimes bloody hard work. Just have to keep thinking 'the exercise is good for me, the exercise is good for me......' Strangely the body is becoming more and more adverse to listening to my brain so a winch maybe closer than I think
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Old 01-12-2008, 03:39   #12
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With an electric windlass things would be much easier singlehanded with one of the wireless remote control up/ down buttons. They are not very expensive and can be added to all electric windlasses that will power up and down. No practical experience I have been meaning to get one for a while.
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Old 01-12-2008, 07:46   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gettinthere View Post
I can't imagine how I'd get the anchor down singlehanded.
Dropping the anchor single handed is easy. the slight tension on the windlass after the first part of the drop will keep head to wind, and you just slip the clutch as needed.

The real trick in strong wind/tide is recovery.
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Old 01-12-2008, 08:21   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Chuck,

Yes, defjef is right. And, you're correct that windlasses are not designed to pull the boat. However, you DON'T pull the boat.

You use the catenary, as defjef suggested. And, you use the engine where necessary to relieve strain on the chain.

I have a cockpit-mounted switch for the windlass, so I can operate the engine controls, steering, and windlass at the same time.

Under most conditions, though, all that is necessary is to be patient and take chain in slowly and in stages, allowing the boat's movements and the chain catenary to relieve most of the strain.

Then, when you're up-and-down (right over the anchor) you just use the engine in forward or reverse GENTLY to break out the anchor. Doesn't take much. Thereafter, the windlass is perfectly capable of handling the remaining chain and the anchor.

Bill
Perhaps you guys did not read my entire post or did not understand it. I specifically said you need to be able to raise the anchor from the helm as you do. You can not count on the cantenary if you cruise outside protected coastal waters where the wind actually blows so someone at the helm is probably going to be necessary if nothing else but to break the anchor out. Now we are not anchoring experts as some of you are, we have only done this a several thousand times so guess we are still beginners, and have had both the 555 manual and an electric windlass but the original poster should know there are pros and cons to both systems and just having an electric windlass does not mean that anchoring singlehanded with an electric windlass becomes effortless. There are just a different set of procedures. In addition, not all anchor set ups allow the windlass to pull the anchor up on the roller so that last effort sometimes has to be done by hand. Depends on his bow roller set up.
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Old 01-12-2008, 11:57   #15
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I've anchored on my own frequently, but usually on a 33-footer. Some things that help are to have the anchor haniging over prior to getting to where I want to drop it and then beginning to let out the rode, prior to drifting backwards, but not to let the anchor hit bottom before the boat begins to drift back.

Although I haven't, I know many solo sailors invest in a remote windless control which allows them to lower the anchor while at the helm.
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