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Old 08-04-2011, 10:59   #1
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Anchoring while Singlehanded Sailing

Even though I haven't had the oportunity yet. I have been thrashing through my mind on various methods of dropping the hook while single handing a sail boat of about 38 to 48 ft in length.
What methods have any of you used successfully?
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:19   #2
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

Before I had a wireless controller for our windlass I would heave too for a few minutes and get my anchor set to drop. With that, I furled my headsail, sailed across the wind far enough away from the point I wanted to drop that the yacht would carry her way to that point when I turned into the wind, made my turn and hard sheeted the main (to hold the yacht's head up), locked the rudder amidship, and made my way forward to drop the hook once the yacht came to rest and pay out the chain as she fell back with the wind. With sufficient chain paid out, stop the windlass, set the chain claw (to avoid loading the windlass) and walk aft, free the wheel (or tiller) and apply a few short pulses of power aft to set the hook. (Don't over-do powering in reverse as your prop walk will pull the yacht somewhat sideways to the wind and she'll surge forward as the main powers up).

Once the hook's set, the main can be dropped and the beers broken out.

FWIW...
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:23   #3
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

before i owned a windlass, i used to go to whe3re i wanted to anchor, place boat in irons, go fwd, put anchor and about 50 ft chain into water, go back and back her down. worked great.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:26   #4
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

Doing most everything as a single-hander just takes more time and more thinking and more planning ahead.
- - For anchoring, I get my anchor rode laid out along the side deck to the length I was to use. Prepare the anchor - unlash it if necessary and if the whole anchoring process will require minimal time I will lower the anchor off the bow holder a little so it does to touch the water or swing enough to hit the hull. Then take a couple of turns on one of the bow cleats with the rode to hold the anchor in that position.
- - Then steer the boat around the anchorage checking out possible spots and if possible see what the bottom is like. Finding a good sand patch in between the beds of sea grass is good.
- - Then steer the boat until the bow in on the upwind side of the "exact" spot I have picked and stop the boat. In the time it takes me to get to the bow the boat has drifted back over the exact spot and I loose the anchor rode from the cleat and let it go. Down goes the anchor and as the boat continues to drift back the pre-selected rode length feeds out.
- - When the boat stops and has drifted to a downwind position, I go back to the helm and put the boat in minimal reverse to straighten out the rode and set the anchor. The a little higher rpms to dig the anchor in.
- - If the anchor doesn't set or the end position of the boat is not where I am comfortable, then I steer the boat forward until it is over the anchor and haul up the anchor and try again.
- - Preparation of everything before you do it is the secret of successful single-handing.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:34   #5
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

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Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
Doing most everything as a single-hander just takes more time and more thinking and more planning ahead.
- - For anchoring, I get my anchor rode laid out along the side deck to the length I was to use. Prepare the anchor - unlash it if necessary and if the whole anchoring process will require minimal time I will lower the anchor off the bow holder a little so it does to touch the water or swing enough to hit the hull. Then take a couple of turns on one of the bow cleats with the rode to hold the anchor in that position.
- - Then steer the boat around the anchorage checking out possible spots and if possible see what the bottom is like. Finding a good sand patch in between the beds of sea grass is good.
- - Then steer the boat until the bow in on the upwind side of the "exact" spot I have picked and stop the boat. In the time it takes me to get to the bow the boat has drifted back over the exact spot and I loose the anchor rode from the cleat and let it go. Down goes the anchor and as the boat continues to drift back the pre-selected rode length feeds out.
- - When the boat stops and has drifted to a downwind position, I go back to the helm and put the boat in minimal reverse to straighten out the rode and set the anchor. The a little higher rpms to dig the anchor in.
- - If the anchor doesn't set or the end position of the boat is not where I am comfortable, then I steer the boat forward until it is over the anchor and haul up the anchor and try again.
- - Preparation of everything before you do it is the secret of successful single-handing.

Planning is everything. Anchoring is not one of those things that has to be rushed. A slow tour through the anchorage to pick a spot is a great idea. Same with docking; a dry run, just to see, is wise.

Single handed, I just do everything slower. No hurry.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:36   #6
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

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Originally Posted by boasun View Post
Even though I haven't had the oportunity yet. I have been thrashing through my mind on various methods of dropping the hook while single handing a sail boat of about 38 to 48 ft in length.
What methods have any of you used successfully?
I have installed a small raise / lower switch at cockpit entrance on our 42ft Ketch. Typically while heading onto an anchorage I pay out 2 feet chain slowly to get the anchor of roller. I sometimes need to walk forward to push anchor "over". I continue to head for anchor location, stop boat movement into wind and lower anchor from the cockpit. I pay attention to the water to ensure I drift backwards and not over anchor chain. I know how many feet chain I pay out per minute (roughly). Once having enough chain out I walk forward to set chain stopper. It really is easy and there is not much too it. Trick is to do all calmly, take your time, give the anchor time to settle and dig in and ensure you pull slowly back on the chain while paying out to ensure you do not end up with lumps of chain on sea bottom.

(I use electrical winch with 3/8 chain (only) and 88lbs Bruce anchor on a 28K lbs aluminium boat)
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Old 08-04-2011, 12:47   #7
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

A lot of what has been said already is spot on. Essentially you just get the boat to *just* stop, then walk forward, and get the tackle in the water. Having some of the chain on deck can help speed up the process against snags in the chain locker.

Weighing anchor is a little more tricky because whether manual or electric, it takes longer to get the anchor off the bottom and if you're on the bow then the helm is not under command.

You can neutralize a lot of problems by waiting for slack water and no wind (early morning for the wind, tide tables for the tides). Big difference between weighing anchor solo in 5 knots of wind vs 20 knots. And if you can predict when those two will occur, only yourself to blame if you're in the latter situation.

I have a manual windlass that moves *very* slowly.
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Old 08-04-2011, 13:31   #8
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

Before you go into the anchorage, lower the hook slightly so that it will go on its own. Come back to the cockpit and drive slowly to the desired spot. Now press the button and lower the anchor. When it touches the bottom put in reverse and very slowly reverse and keep on paying the chain all the time. Easy.

In our ship we do not have the convenience of the button so I will judge the prevailing element by looking at the other boats (if there are any) then sail into the spot I like and drop the hook by hand. Now the wind or current will take my boat while I will be paying out the chain. When it is enough I will go back to the cockpit, put in the reverse and dig the hook in. Easy. But probably not as easy as with the winch control from the cockpit.

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Old 08-04-2011, 13:58   #9
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

Nobody has suggested a small marker buoy secured to the anchor nose. If you have the depth, by lead, echo or chart, you can set it a bit over the target depth. It gives a good idea of the actual depth and the scope you've paid out as you drift off. It is also very useful should you have difficulty releasing the anchor when leaving. Makes recovery by diver a lot easier too if things really go pear shaped.
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Old 08-04-2011, 14:19   #10
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

Nobody has mentioned raising -- that's more challenging, especially when the wind is up.

If the boat is larger than mid-20's feet it really helps to have an electric windlass -- and in stronger wind conditions I would consider it mandatory (with remote control at helm) for a single-hander.

For a couple, you should be able to weigh anchors without windlass with larger boats and anchors.
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Old 08-04-2011, 14:25   #11
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

simple just hit down switch on the pedestal and throw her in reverse. After having this setup Id go no other way. Makes it simple when things get nasty and everyone starts dragging in the anchorage too.
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Old 08-04-2011, 14:41   #12
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

Dropping was never a problem for me, ... picking it back up was. I dont think one person can do it in high winds. It is hard enough with no wind. The only method I've gotten to work is aim for where you think the anchor is going slowly. lash the helm, run forward pull a few armfuls of rode until the boat starts to head off cleat it. run back re aim, repeat until you drive over the top and it breaks loose.
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Old 08-04-2011, 15:23   #13
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

On my 28 footer there wasn't room for the anchor (a WWII surplus forty-pound danforth) in the bow so I kept it in the cockpit. To anchor I would run the bitter end up to the bow outside the lifelines. When I found my spot I would turn downwind and chuck the anchor off the stern. When enough line payed out I would cleat it off at the stern until I was stopped by the anchor setting. Then I would uncleat and let the bow swing into the wind. Probably wouldn't work that great under sail though.
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Old 08-04-2011, 15:44   #14
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

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On my 28 footer there wasn't room for the anchor (a WWII surplus forty-pound danforth) in the bow so I kept it in the cockpit. To anchor I would run the bitter end up to the bow outside the lifelines. When I found my spot I would turn downwind and chuck the anchor off the stern. When enough line payed out I would cleat it off at the stern until I was stopped by the anchor setting. Then I would uncleat and let the bow swing into the wind. Probably wouldn't work that great under sail though.
I used to do exactly the same thing on my old 22. And having an anchor (or extra) in the cockpit was good in case of an emergency like engine dies in a channel.
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Old 08-04-2011, 17:21   #15
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Re: Anchoring while Singlehanded sailing; Your method?

Having a ketch, I rely on the mizzen to keep me into the wind a lot of the time. When anchoring, I roll up the jib ~30s before I plan to drop the hook. If it is windy, I will sometimes drop the main first and then I have to hold onto the jib until the last second. When I am the right distance to leeward of where I want to drop the hook, I go head to wind, sheet the mizzen hard and let the main out. Then I have plenty of time to walk forward and drop the anchor and the boat will just tend to itself.

Getting underway, I raise the mizzen and sheet it hard and raise the main and let the sheet go. I go forward and raise the anchor and then go back to the cockpit and the boat will usually be head to wind still. By manually backing the mizzen, I can get the bow to fall off whichever way I want. At that point, I sheet in the main and let the mizzen go so that the helm balances until I get a bit of speed up. Somewhere in the process, I will unroll the jib.
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