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Old 12-09-2014, 22:57   #1
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Setting the Anchor on a Cat

I always try and set the anchor by backing it in but I have always run out the desired length of chain by slowly reversing then stop letting out chain. Then back it in. Once set I attach the bridle and let out enough for the bridle to take the load rather than the windlass. However I started thinking that the backing it in on the windlass is probably putting a lot of strain on it. When others back it in do you attach the bridle first or leave it on the windlass?


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Old 12-09-2014, 23:36   #2
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

I think the load should be taken off the windlass before backing down and setting the anchor. Monohull or cat does not alter the advice.
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Old 13-09-2014, 00:11   #3
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

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Originally Posted by Dod42 View Post
I always try and set the anchor by backing it in but I have always run out the desired length of chain by slowly reversing then stop letting out chain. Then back it in. Once set I attach the bridle and let out enough for the bridle to take the load rather than the windlass. However I started thinking that the backing it in on the windlass is probably putting a lot of strain on it. When others back it in do you attach the bridle first or leave it on the windlass?


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We agree 100% with noelex.

It's definitely not a good idea to dig in the anchor while it's still direct to the windlass. According to a windlass supplier we spoke with recently, that's by far the most common cause of windlass 'fatigue' and, ultimately, failure.

We pay out the calculated length of chain and then attach the bridle on a short lead, i.e. in our case with the bridle still wrapped around a mooring cleat on the catwalk. Any sort of devil's claw would serve the same purpose, of course. We then let out some chain behind the bridle (or devil's claw) to ensure the anchor strain now leads to the bridle/cleat, not the windlass...and then we back it in. Then we go ahead enough to reduce the anchor chain stress; tweak the chain up until the bridle is slack enough to remove it from the cleat; and then let the chain out with the full bridle -- This also provides extra rode length, of course...~8m for us -- and finally we again reverse hard to dig it in. If all that sounds cumbersome, it's not really and we do it easily and quickly as it's just a routine process.

Safe sailing...and safe anchoring!!
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Old 13-09-2014, 00:25   #4
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Setting the anchor on a cat

The more I think about it the more it makes sense not to leave it on the windlass when backing the anchor in. I think I can rig a short strop to a cleat that I can back down on, then attach the bridle. Our bridle is very long and with FP having the anchor well situated just in front of the mast it means we let out another 6 to 8 meters once we attach the bridle. I would rather a shorter option like a strop in case I can't get the anchor to set and have to move. Hasn't happened yet, in fact the way it sets so quickly and suddenly is what made me think maybe I should take the pressure off the windlass in the first place.


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Old 13-09-2014, 00:42   #5
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

A short strop is very useful if you have not got a chain stopper (and I have never seen one on a cat) especially anchoring in strong winds.

The bridle takes a bit of time to deploy and if you drop the anchor in say 40 knots there is a lot of load on the windlass while sorting out the bridle. A short line with a chain hook that can attached in few seconds will take the load off the windlass while you sort the bridle out. Unfortunately there are not a great many suitable strong attachments points for this line on some cats.

It is worth thinking about anchoring in stronger wind and developing an anchoring system that will still work in the worst conditions.
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Old 13-09-2014, 00:48   #6
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

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On our Lipari they fit a cleat inside the anchor well for attaching to a mooring. This is close and seems strong enough. I think I can setup something simple to this

Thanks it's is always good to bounce ideas of others to make sure I'm not way off base


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Old 13-09-2014, 00:52   #7
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One thing to think about. You said you have a very long bridle. You don't want your bridle so long that it can ever touch the bottom. I watched a cat drag anchor. then assisted the untangling of a anchor and a long bridle. His bridle actually tripped then tangled the anchor so that he had virtually no scope.
I would have never thaught it was possible till I saw it. Just a little something to keep in mind.

As for the setting the anchor. I let it free spool out I then have a setting cleat, once set I attach the bridle and release the setting cleat. . The way I see it the less the windless does the longer it will last.
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Old 13-09-2014, 01:03   #8
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
A short strop is very useful if you have not got a chain stopper (and I have never seen one on a cat) especially anchoring in strong winds.

The bridle takes a bit of time to deploy and if you drop the anchor in say 40 knots there is a lot of load on the windlass while sorting out the bridle. A short line with a chain hook that can attached in few seconds will take the load off the windlass while you sort the bridle out. Unfortunately there are not a great many suitable strong attachments points for this line on some cats.

It is worth thinking about anchoring in stronger wind and developing an anchoring system that will still work in the worst conditions.
More very good points here.

Our system works on the principle that, once sufficient chain is paid out, we will keep the load off the windlass using the engine(s) until the bridle (initially as a stopper, as outlined above) is attached.
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Old 13-09-2014, 01:12   #9
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

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One thing to think about. You said you have a very long bridle. You don't want your bridle so long that it can ever touch the bottom. I watched a cat drag anchor. then assisted the untangling of a anchor and a long bridle. His bridle actually tripped then tangled the anchor so that he had virtually no scope.
I would have never thaught it was possible till I saw it. Just a little something to keep in mind.
Something to keep in mind for sure, but there are other very good reasons for a long bridle. We suggest it may be better, rather than living with a short bridle, to ensure the bridle can't be tripped by sitting on the bottom.

Along the same lines, it's also important (especially for those of us with long bridles) to regularly check your bridle splices. One of our bridle splices (already weary and close to replacement) released itself as a result of lying on the bottom; there was no crises, but the experience sure added something to our safety checklist!

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The way I see it the less the windless does the longer it will last.
Spot on there!!
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Old 13-09-2014, 01:27   #10
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

I have an Orana 44 so my anchor set-up is probably very similar to yours.

I done exactly what you plan to do. I fitted a stainless eye/loop on the foundation where the windlass sits, next to the chain. The I have a short fixed length rope with a chainhook at the end, tied just short of the exit of anchor box. Works great. No need for a cleat as you never will adjust the length of the rope.

I fitted it for another reason, for med mooring as you cannot use the bridle (at least I haven't figured it out). But I have some other issues with this as it put a lot of strain on the anchor coming in just in front of the mast.
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Old 13-09-2014, 02:53   #11
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

We always attach the bridle before backing down on the anchor to protect the windlass. Our bridle lines are approximately 6m. Yes it requires resetting if the anchor doesn't hold, but this is a rare event and only adds 60 seconds to the process. I would say it would take more time in the long run to bother with a snubbing line. We usually let out 10m or so of chain after attaching the bridle to act as a Kellet and keep the bridle low. More if in deep water. I can see a short snubber may be a good backup after the anchor is set to protect the windlass in case of the bridle breaking or the chain hook parting, and for med mooring with the anchor as pointed out above
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Old 13-09-2014, 08:18   #12
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

Our Tigres has a snubbing winch on top of it. Since the windlass bed is one of the strongest points on the boat, we set the anchor off the windlass. Have a small piece of dyneema with a loop on one end and a hook on the other. Attach it to the chain to transfer the force from the windlass gears to the windlass housing. Once set, attach the bridle. We find bridling for setting and re-setting or final scope to be a pain.
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Old 13-09-2014, 09:11   #13
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
SNIP

if you drop the anchor in say 40 knots

SNIP
At some point the wind is so strong backing down may not be buying you much. I know this is a function of the windage of the vessel but anyone want to guess at what point the wind strength makes backing down unnecessary.
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Old 13-09-2014, 09:38   #14
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

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I know this is a function of the windage of the vessel but anyone want to guess at what point the wind strength makes backing down unnecessary.
Yes I agree there is no need to use the engine to back down in 40 knots. The wind will provide plenty of force.

While laying out the chain in these strong winds the anchor winch clutch can adjusted to slip, so the force on the windlass is not very high. To attach the bridle the chain needs to stationary. At this stage the full load is taken by the windlass. The force is even higher than normal because without a bridle the shearing will be greater.

As someone has pointed out you can use the motors to reduce the force on the windlass while the bridle is attached, but this depends on the engines functioning (probably both) and at least two people. Even then you may need some comunication between the foredeck and the helm which is often not easy in bad conditions.

Even if you ignore the health of the windlass you may find that the windlass clutch cannot be tightened enough to hold in the gusts. Attaching a bridle while the chain is slipping is difficult on many cats. A means of quickly securing the chain is a big help. Such a system is needed anyway in case the bridal breaks.

I have found even reasonably experienced sailors sometimes find anchoring systems that they have used successfully for years can break down in poor conditions.

A simple very common one that is more applicable to monohulls is where the only anchor winch controls lead out of the foredeck hatch. Try that when you drag strong wind with waves crashing over the bow and you will be sleeping on wet mattress.
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Old 13-09-2014, 09:48   #15
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re: Setting the Anchor on a Cat

I always backed down on the windlass, then set the bridle. The bridle stretch makes it hard to tell what is going on below. with chain, if your anchor is moving, you will see the chain wiggle and bounce. But I always give it time also... pay out chain as the boat floats down wind, let it set on it's own. Then reverse to maybe 1500 rpm.
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