Klem's post covered most of the bases, especially for boats with a mizzen. Great post !
I have done a bit of coastal cruising on a 7m sloop which carries a 22lb Bruce, reasonably big in relation to the boat.
I rarely used the engine, because this boat has a very tall rig and narrow waterline beam and sparkles along in very light conditions, but this put a premium on finding ways to apply decent amounts of sail force to set the anchor.
Here's a couple of methods I developed, and I've found these work very well on larger boats:
1: The boat is set up with vang preventers on each side, 2:1 purchase
down to the chainplates. I often heave to preparatory to anchoring, by dropping the headsail and preventing the main out as far as it will go. The tiller goes hard over to the same side as the main, and I loop it behind a purchase
of the backstay tensioner
to keep it there. The main acts as a very effective weathercock; the boat is now hove to, with virtually the same behaviour as the usual backed headsail. However the foredeck is clear (on a small boat, the backed genoa
is badly in the way for anchoring)
If I judge this correctly the boat will jog quietly towards the place where I want to drop the anchor. This wee boat has all chain, 3/8" for the first 12m and 5/16" thereafter, so I pull out all the heavy chain while the boat is getting herself into position. If I range the chain on the deck, it's easier to feel the pull accurately, to gauge how quickly to let it out. I don't want to put too much load on too early, to upset the anchor from settling into the bottom.
The anchor is lowered to the bottom at the required spot. The boat will carry on for a bit at an angle, but the weight of anchor and chain will soon turn the bow into the wind, and the prevented main will cause the boat to start making sternway, intially straight downwind.
During this period I lay out the chain judiciously, making sure only to feed out as required as the boat drops back. If I am not alone, (or if I make a trip back to the cockpit) the tiller can be reversed at this point which makes it possible to feed the chain out a lot quicker, because if the boat drops back quickly, the action of the rudder
will counteract the turning effect of the backed main. IF it's dropping back slowly, the rudder
has no appreciable effect.
I'll generally cleat off when there's enough scope, note a transit, and put the kettle on.
After the boat (still lying to the prevented main) has tugged away for five or ten minutes, gentling the anchor into the bottom, I'll go forward and pull in a little chain (if need be, temporarily unpreventing the main). Then I fall back on the slack chain with the main prevented to give the anchor a bit of a tug. If the transits line up, but I'm not happy it was a severe enough test, I'll either do it again a few times with increasing slack, or if the wind is light, I might put the genoa back up, and back it (possibly even on a long whisker pole if the wind is very light) - this is effectively like backing main and mizzen to opposite sides.
2: This is strictly a stunt, but a lot of fun: I struck a situation once where I was sailing wing-and-wing into an anchorage, ghosting along. The wind strength was insufficient to set the anchor, but there was a chance of it increasing from that direction later that night. The holding was excellent.
I remembered a trick we'd refined in our adolescence in an even smaller sailboat, which (like this one) had a telescopic whisker pole and a #2 genoa the same size and proportions as the main. We always used a vang preventer on that boat also, and once when running out of a harbour with the sails strapped out on opposite sides, we ran out of land-breeze wind.
We sat contentedly for a few minutes, wondering if it would give us a last waft or two. However the seabreeze established itself, moving inshore steadily, and consequently arrived at us from dead ahead. The tiller was lashed amidships and we'd had the centreboard swung aft so she would self steer downwind.
We had the presence of mind to drop the board fully forward, and grab the tiller. The wind picked up nicely and before long we were sailing backwards at five knots, in the direction we'd just come from, in perfect control (as long as you didn't allow the tiller to move more than about ten degrees, at which point it would sweep you across the cockpit
and pin you to the coaming.
So we experimented to find out whether, in the absence of a 180 deg windshift, we could sail backwards whenever we wished (assuming the seas were not steep enough as to make it over the transom !)
and yes indeed, after a couple of slightly hilarious attempts, we discovered the key.
On one memorable occasion, we got up to hull speed
, and passed some young friends in a longer but slower boat who were sailing in the traditional, bow-forward configuration.
We also resorted to it occasionally in sheltered waters when on a long downwind leg we found the sails were interfering with our sunbathing.
This works on most fin-keeled, spade rudder yachts with a genoa roughly the same size as the main, provided the pole is long enough to get the genoa out about as far (but on the other side) as the main with the boom squared well outboard
So anyway I recalled this, on the subsequent occasion a decade or more later, on the bigger boat. I did the manoeuvre (there was no-one there, aboard or on land, so my dignity was not at stake) and sailed in backwards, lashed the tiller, went forward as we passed over the appointed spot, laid out the chain as usual, and cleated off while still doing over half a knot
. The bottom was ideal, and the momentum and the continued strain from the light wind on the big rig was enough to give a decent set.
We'm sailors! We don't need no stinking motors!