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Old 14-03-2019, 19:20   #1
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Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

Have read a number of reports of cruisers doing this as a way to take some of the strain off the anchor, reduce the risk of dragging and possible lessen chaffe and other possible benefits.

Until I rode out hurricane Matthew on the boat in north Florida never had need or opportunity to try this technique. At the height of the storm,watching boats all around me dragging or breaking free I decided to try the motor into the wind trick to take some of the strain off the mooring. Instead it made the situation worse.

When I powered against the wind it would indeed take some of the strain off the pennant but then the wind would catch the bow, the boat would fall back and turn broadside to the wind with a resulting dramatic increase in forces on the boat and mooring.

Has anyone else tried this and what was your experience. Is it possible that the short scope of a mooring pennant vs a longer anchor rode made a difference?
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Old 14-03-2019, 19:45   #2
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

I fortunately have not had that experience but I can't imagine how awful it would be in a broad catamaran that like to dance on anchor even in a light wind.

Your experience is exactly what I suspected would happen. How did you end up riding out the storm?

I'd probably do something like two forward anchors with equal rode but 10+ meters apart, which likely would cause its own problems. I'd feel more comfortable until it all went to hell, though.
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Old 14-03-2019, 19:57   #3
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

I have used motoring into the wind to save my boat in one situation - and it did in fact save me. Your situation may (and probably) will differ than mine.
I had single handed into the islands north of La Paz in the Sea of Cortez for a couple of days. I anchored in a wide bay, which was protected from the moderate NE wind that had been blowing. About 2am or so the wind shifted nearly 180 degrees (not unusual on the Sea of Cortez) and blew to 25-30 with rapidly increasing seas. My anchor dragged (the fluke had jammed into a small chunk of coral). By the time I finally gave up trying to pull the jammed anchor, I was close to the breakers. I motored into the wind from about 4 to 9 am, with good results, and none of the veering you experienced. Of course 25-30 isn't hurricane strength and my Hans has a full, deep keel.
Did motoring into the wind save my boat - you betcha.
Lesson learned - a cockpit mounted winch control to help in single handed situations might be useful, but in the seas I was experiencing that night, my anchor chain would probably have jumped the gitana (gypsy).
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Old 14-03-2019, 20:02   #4
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

i have only had to do this when the anchor was actually dragging slowly in a restricted anchorage,motoring forward a bit took some of the strain off and allowed the anchor to set.

i have sat many times with the engine running but not in gear when the spray starts lifting off the water though, in anticipation of anchors dragging,ready for quick action.
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Old 14-03-2019, 20:17   #5
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

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Originally Posted by LoudMusic View Post
I fortunately have not had that experience but I can't imagine how awful it would be in a broad catamaran that like to dance on anchor even in a light wind.
It's often said that catamarans move around more at anchor.

That hasn't been what I've seen.

It's funny, a group of us were sitting on the beach at Lizard island, and one guy said "Those cats really sail around at anchor don't they?"

And I said "Are we looking at the same anchorage?"

The monos were generally moving round more, and some of them were seriously sailing around, "tacking" through probably 140 to 160 degrees.

The other guy watched a bit longer, then said "Those monos really sail around at anchor don't they?"

I think it was a case of perception being shaped by expectation.

As for using engines to reduce load, I think the idea is to not use enough power to drive the boat forward, just enough to reduce the backward push.
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Old 14-03-2019, 20:18   #6
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

Agree with Atoll, Standby only
In heavy veering winds that you would get in a TRS.

The chances of sheering off to one side and accelerating could actually be the cause of an anchor break out event, when coming up hard .

In a TRS whiteout, focus on your depth and chaffe situation, all hands on stand bye properly equipped for fast action outside and engine running in neutral
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Old 14-03-2019, 20:26   #7
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

I agree, too much throttle will slack the anchor chain, causing the boat to veer.
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Old 14-03-2019, 20:33   #8
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

a64's right. Unless you're ready to break out the anchor and have room to do so. And somewhere to be able to go.
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Old 14-03-2019, 20:55   #9
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

Motoring into the wind has worked for me on several occasions when a squall hit and soft mud bottom was allowing a slow drag towards a lee shore. But you really need to drive (control) the boat to prevent overshoot. Usually accompanied by poor visibility which requires attention to the compass, and use zoomed in chart plotter with forward track marked and radar to manage the situation.
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Old 14-03-2019, 21:54   #10
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

I got stuck for 30 hrs one summer in SE Alaska in front of Reid Glacier, Glacier Bay. It was gusting well over 50kt offshore and very cold off the ice. With no where to hide unless I picked it up, I decided to hang out. Narrowish downwind exit from the bay that never looked fun. High mountains block all coms, so no forecast. Weathered it out with power, constantly adjusting the throttle as loads came off / on with breeze and chop. Ready to bolt if any sign of a drag, in 3-4 minutes I'm beached. With guests on board a 30t Swan I just told them this was normal and so they read their books, napped, drank wine and watched movies. They were a little pissy about not going ashore and the BBQ was out of order.
Getting the anchor up is another is another story as it went underground 25'.
So yup, power absolutely works in these cases and typical when vessels get larger. Its prudent.
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Old 14-03-2019, 22:35   #11
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

It's a technique that worked for me once. I ran the engine at idle speed, slipping it in and out of gear as required to lessen the strain on the anchor and keep it from dragging in a bottom that offered poor holding. The trick seems to be to use just enough power to ease the load, not to drive the boat forward where the anchor can no longer hold the bow to the wind.


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Old 14-03-2019, 22:37   #12
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

A sailboat rudder is towed thru the water & works by the water passing over it. A sailboat rudder's performance(under sail) is not reliant on water being pushed backward by a propeller.


A powerboat rudder relies mostly on propeller wash. They normally do not steer well while coasting thru water.


At anchor,with no water current,any rudder is virtually useless. It certainly could not compete with high wind pressure on the vessel.


When you motor a sailboat,it becomes a motorboat (with excess windage).
Regardless of model,it is now reliant on prop wash passing the rudder for all of it's steering ability.


In a well designed power boat,the prop is close ahead of the rudder,it's wash is directed aft over the rudder,and there is sufficient HP to drive a larger 3+ blade prop.


Sailboat designers are stuck with compromising between sailing/racing ability & cruising/motoring ability. The "twain" rarely meet.


If a prop is more than a foot ahead of the rudder leading edge and /or,is pointed at a downward angle,there is little water passing by the rudder.


If there is less than a HP/ft.,there is probably not enough force of water by the rudder to counteract strong winds.


Jogging-motoring into the wind/seas,while at anchor or at sea-requires constant helm watch-to avoid broaching or riding up the rode. Very tiring.


A poor steering boat does not "motor" in a straight line long enough to "pee over the side" without someone needing to turn the helm.


Autopilot can be helpful-but-still needs an alert watch.


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Old 14-03-2019, 22:49   #13
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

Have had three occasions where I sat in the cockpit, with engine running, but have not yet had to actually engage the transmission. My plan was to motor ONLY when it was clear we were dragging.

Im not sure how my boat would respond, but it would be a last-resort kind of maneuver. I hope I never have to find out.
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Old 14-03-2019, 22:55   #14
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

Tried it once for several seconds and once only in an 80 knot blow.
We do 5+ knots just clicking into gear
Bad move and got out of shape real fast as we had a hail whiteout and GPS and sounders stopped working and I couldn't see the bow.

Since then have just let us hang with engine started if I am awake.
Had one go through a couple of nights ago registering 37 and 44 knots according to boats in the same bay.
I woke, but went straight back to sleep.
I guess that's confidence.
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Old 15-03-2019, 00:55   #15
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Re: Motoring against the wind at anchor in a storm

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Have read a number of reports of cruisers doing this as a way to take some of the strain off the anchor, reduce the risk of dragging and possible lessen chaffe and other possible benefits.

Until I rode out hurricane Matthew on the boat in north Florida never had need or opportunity to try this technique. At the height of the storm,watching boats all around me dragging or breaking free I decided to try the motor into the wind trick to take some of the strain off the mooring. Instead it made the situation worse.

When I powered against the wind it would indeed take some of the strain off the pennant but then the wind would catch the bow, the boat would fall back and turn broadside to the wind with a resulting dramatic increase in forces on the boat and mooring.

Has anyone else tried this and what was your experience. Is it possible that the short scope of a mooring pennant vs a longer anchor rode made a difference?
I've done this only as a thought experiment, using a pure mathematical model.

Of course, the problem with thought experiments and pure models is they sometimes don't look a lot like the real world.

But the MODEL tells me that every bit of thrust being developed by the engine is a relief on the anchor. And the model also tells me that provided you do not provide so much thrust that you actually exceed the wind drag and move forward as a result, then the boat should remain relatively directionally stable and the resultant reduction of drag on the anchor would be a good thing.

Like I said, it's just a model, but I figure in the same situation, I would certainly start the engine and then I would experiment with small amounts of throttle to the point that the boat still hangs off the anchor chain cleanly, but that the pull on the chain is reduced to a safe level.

Skipmac, did you experience problems at low levels of engine thrust or just high?

Regarding the whole propwash and rudder placement thing, I am blessed with a prop that fires straight on the mid section of the keel hung barn door rudder, so in forward gear at least, I have terrific control. (Don't even ASK about reverse though.)

Matt
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