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Old 13-01-2013, 06:45   #1
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Anchoring When You Have Engine Failure

I have been wondering how others anchor without a motor on a cruising sailboat. I have had to twice, both at night. First was because I could not get the engine running, ran out of electric. My fault for enjoying St Pierre, Dominica to much. The second, again at night we lost the ability to reverse and forward. The linkage had broken. In both occasions I new that I had now power so sailed to a bay that I had been to before, one of the occasions it took over 24 hours, but was successful.

My strategy was to 1. Pick a bay that I new what the bottom was like. 2. Anchored away from the other boats 3 dropped the anchor and let the wind to snug me in the best it could. Shorter chain out to get set before I laid out all of my chain. 4. Once I felt we were set, I let out extra chain. We have no rope and only chain, 250 ft.

How do you do it?

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Old 13-01-2013, 06:54   #2
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Re: Anchorin when you have engine failure

I've anchored a bunch of times under sail, and mostly just like you say. I also tug hard on the anchor a bunch of times, which can help set it and give you an idea if it is well set. Naturally, it is easier to tug on the anchor if you have mostly rope rode--if you have all chain chances are very good your strength won't be enough to budge the anchor itself as the chain will take all the strain. In very light airs I have sometimes dropped the hook while sailing downwind under main alone in order to get the anchor to dig in, but again this is better to do with a rope rode so you don't overstress any of your deck gear. In clear tropical waters it is worth it to dive on the anchor and you can often dig it into the bottom somewhat by hand if it isn't secure.

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Old 13-01-2013, 11:06   #3
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Re: Anchorin when you have engine failure

We probably drop the hook under sail 80% of the time. When we don't it is either because we have to go up a shallow channel which we are not comfortable sailing up or there is no wind.

Coming into anchor, we get rid of the jib about 30 seconds before we plan to drop the hook and keep sailing under main and mizzen. Usually right before we round up, we let the main sheet all the way out and crank in on the mizzen to hold us up into the wind. If we are coming in with too much speed, the mizzen can be held out to one side backwinded or you can saw away at the wheel like crazy to loose speed. Once our forward progress has stopped, we sheet the mizzen tight and lower the anchor. The boat will sort of heave to and drift off until we get the proper amount of scope out. At this time, we back both the main and mizzen perpendicular to the boat for a few minutes to help set the anchor. If the air is really light, this doesn't work and if it is really blowing, it is unnecessary. Having a new generation anchor has made this process much easier as we end up where we want to and don't worry about where the anchor will actually set.

Sailing off the hook, we raise the mizzen and sheet it in hard then raise the main and let it luff. We haul up the anchor and then back the mizzen to get the bow to fall off in the desired direction. At this point, we let the mizzen luff and sheet the main properly because if we keep the mizzen in, then we will round up again. Once the anchor is secure, we haul in the mizzen and pull out the jib.

On a sloop, you can do much the same thing minus the mizzen. If you don't have a boat that steers well backward, you may need to back the jib to fall off the way that you want.
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Old 13-01-2013, 11:23   #4
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Re: Anchorin when you have engine failure

To answer your direct question. I have had to anchor once when my engine failed. After buying the boat I did a full PM except replace the belt (Duh!).

The belt failed in the ICW. Anchoring was simple, drop anchor and pray it grabs. It did.
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Old 13-01-2013, 11:51   #5
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Re: Anchorin when you have engine failure

I am not quite sure what is understood by 'when ... engine failure'. How does this differ from the times you are sailing a boat with no engine?

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Old 13-01-2013, 12:05   #6
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Re: Anchorin when you have engine failure

"When the engine fails" We sail mostly in the WIndwards and Leewards and have an engine to use when needed. I always anchor under motor so that when I pull back I pull up to 2000RPM. This way I know that I will not end up on the reef that is around me. Also much of the time we don't have the ideal bottom conditions. I like to know that when the storm comes at night I am sufficently secure.

I do have a new design anchor and it is wonderful and for me adds insurance. With that said, S*** does happen.

I will try your suggested method Klem. We though have a sloop.
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Old 13-01-2013, 12:40   #7
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Re: Anchorin when you have engine failure

Occasionally, we practice anchoring under sail, to keep the skill set alive. Use the main, back-winded to help set the hook.

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Old 13-01-2013, 12:55   #8
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Re: Anchoring When You Have Engine Failure

I'm curious about the "new generation" anchors. Spade? Rocna?
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Old 13-01-2013, 13:04   #9
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pirate Re: Anchoring When You Have Engine Failure

My charts provide all the information I need re depths and bottom so I'll make one pass to take in the lay and scopes of any boats there.. and clean bottom in relation to weed patches...
I pick my spot then on the second pass furl the genny just before I'm in position to luff up... having luffed up I free the mainsheet and go forward... by this time she's lost most of her way and I drop the hook by hand (depths up to 7 metres), feed out another 10 then take the strain as she falls off... hold till she starts to straighten then feed another 10... if I feel her jerking I let another 10 out fast... then hold fast. Once the head comes into the wind if alls well I'll let out whatever else I feel needed for the bottom/depth and conditions.. for example Marigot Bay SXM if the N swells set in I add another 10 metres of chain as a damper.. don't like the snatching some sailors seem to tolerate.
Once I'm happy I'll finish my coffee and drop the main.. tidy up..
Then have a Rum or Brandy..

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Old 13-01-2013, 13:24   #10
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Re: Anchoring When You Have Engine Failure

Good point about lowering the anchor by hand, then taking up the strain, letting out a little more, then take up the strain, etc. I see too many sailors just stop, dump over a dog pile of chain on top of the anchor, then throw it into reverse to straighten out the mess. If you do that under sail you're very likely to end up with an anchor that is not dug in very well, or possibly a fouled anchor.
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Old 13-01-2013, 13:36   #11
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Re: Anchoring When You Have Engine Failure

"I have been wondering how others anchor without a motor on a cruising sailboat."

On our 48 ft cutter-rigged sloop:

Double reef the main, or leave the storm try sail as is...
Genoa furled completely
Stay sail set
Trying for speed approx 3 knots or less
Over-shoot target area while taking soundings
Luff sails and fall off wind, drifting somewhat backwards
Drop anchor, paying out approx 3-to-1 scope
Gloved hand on chain, when feel that 1st tugging deploy more chain
Attach grab hook to chain at 4-to-1 scope
Back-fill main (or try sail), then stay sail
Let the wind do the work to set anchor
Let sails flog, take bearings
If seems okay, drop sails (prepared to rapidly hoist sails, not lashed down all pretty-pretty)
Deploy more chain for minimum 5 but prefer 6-to-1 scope, retake bearings
Maintain anchor watch, esp overnight
Do not go ashore until the following day no matter what the custom's folk might scream on the radio. (Pleading dinghy motor probs usually helps.)

Well, that's how it mostly works. A couple of times we've had to fall off the wind - fast - and go out for a re-try because the Captain (my wife) didn't care for the depth readings. We've not yet had a situation where the anchor didn't set on the first try.... touching wood as I type those words.

In strong winds I'll lay the chain out on deck, because the "free fall" on the windless isn't fast enough to keep up with the winds pushing us out of our selected area. (Hint: we never leave port without a half-dozen pair heavy-duty leather work gloves. )
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Old 13-01-2013, 14:05   #12
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Re: Anchoring When You Have Engine Failure

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!
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Old 13-01-2013, 14:27   #13
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Re: Anchoring When You Have Engine Failure

I have a Rocna for an anchor. Marogot Bay? You were in the outside area. Not much room and with the hills did you have much wind? You commented on coming in once then the 2nd time to set the anchor. Good job. I was there only a week ago. Love the place, although I was disappointed with the very fancy restaurant that you need to dinghy to.

Try to get to Tyrel Bay and visit the SlipWay. It is great. Also stop at Chatum and go to Veronicas for Conch Fritters. She is in the center rum shack with blue chairs. We have been going there for 5 years. Cheeres Aloisius
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Old 14-01-2013, 10:00   #14
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Re: Anchoring When You Have Engine Failure

Because I've had to do this a few times I've organised what I call my 'emergency' anchor - a danforth with 2 metres of chain and about 40m of rope. My main anchor has an all chain rode and i have a manual winch - so in any depth above 10m getting the anchor up takes a bit too much time to do safely if I have to sail off the anchorage - the danforth can be pulled up quickly. Thats really the thing you have to consider - getting the anchor up, not getting it down.
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Old 14-01-2013, 13:12   #15
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Re: Anchoring When You Have Engine Failure

Originally Posted by charliehows View Post
... Thats really the thing you have to consider - getting the anchor up, not getting it down.
A good point .... and there's sometimes another aspect to that: in a crowded or a confined anchorage, when sailing off your anchor, it's often necessary to ensure the boat will pay off onto the desired tack. The other tack might put you straight onto the rocks.

In such cases, I find the 'prevented main only' approach to be the most reliable: when I'm up short on the anchor (having previously raised the main but not sheeted it in) I'll prevent it out to the desired leeward side, and drop the tiller or helm across to that same side and lock it there.

Then when the anchor's up, the boat's hove to on the desired tack while I secure the anchor, with ZERO chance of being put about even by a 45 degree windshift. In a 90 degree or more windshift, it will self-recover more quickly than any other technique I know.

To start sailing once I get back to the cockpit, it's just a matter of middling the helm, uncleating the vang-preventer, and sheeting in as needed.

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