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Old 18-08-2012, 20:34   #16
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

Thanks for the input. Some great ideas and amusing ones too. So far, the responses vary somewhat so maybe there is no standard (I was hoping to find one). Anyway I have enough info to create my own using some of these ideas.

There were a couple of suggestions on using radios. I have a set of wireless headsets so you can have both hands free ... thoroughly recommended.

Cruising Solutions | Marriage Saver Headsets

In my initial post I asked mainly for anchoring, but for other purposes as well. What about navigating some unknown channel or bay where there may be lurking nasties? What signal do you use to point out a danger, and not get it confused with "go there"?
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Old 18-08-2012, 21:20   #17
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

If you are on the bow (best view point) directing the boat up a channel, you would use the same signals. You direct where you want the boat to go and with how much throttle. If you are on the helm with a lookout on the bow, then you need that person to know all of the signals to direct you away from danger. It takes trust which comes from practice. __Another 2 cents worth.______Grant.
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Old 19-08-2012, 08:05   #18
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

If there's an imbalance of skills, perhaps the novice should be at the helm and the skipper on the foredeck with eyes and attention on hazards and directing where to steer. Of course if the helm doesn't respond precisely enough to commands, perhaps it's better to just anchor, scout in the dinghy and then singlehand the boat in. Command skills & leadership...opposite of the screamers.
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Old 29-08-2012, 02:11   #19
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

With a bad "imbalance of skills" in a bad situation, I once came up with the simplest signals possible. Two only, covering every conceivable contingency.

(Tiller steered boat, only one crew, a scared kid, getting a heavy anchor back on board with no windlass and a relatively small engine after short duration emergency anchoring in heavy squalls in a shipping channel, no shelter. One real asset: a very efficient chain pawl, on the bow roller)

I did the bow, naturally.

I used my forearm, holding my elbow at shoulder height out to the side, to mimic where I wanted the tiller -- making use of this only when I needed it moved from last location ... same with the single lever engine control, but with the forearm in the vertical plane, tilting fore and aft.

That way, it didn't matter where the ship's head was pointing, whether we were making sternway, etc etc.... the requirement was 100% for obedience, 0% for intelligence. Like docking certain classes of naval vessel, where the quartermaster on the wheel might be below decks with no view whatsoever.

It was as good as being in two places at once. Better even than having a likeminded person, even a real expert on the helm (given we couldn't communicate due to wind noise - and the situation was evolving, unpredictable and dynamic)

The kid did EXACTLY what he was told, although he was scared. Better value than most adults, who (I'm guessing) would generally want to exercise their own judgement to 'improve' on what they were told, or improvise between signals, regardless of how little they know.

I'd never do this except in emergency, though ... it presents little to no opportunity for the person in the cockpit to learn, when they're being controlled like a robot.

Also I've noticed that boys generally seem better at doing the mental transformations to work out (say) when the tiller is nominally parallel (or would be in plan view) to an abstract object viewed from an oblique angle.

Whether girls are typically less good, or just lack the confidence, I'm not entirely sure.
Supposedly there are fairly pronounced physiological differences in how the genders manage mental 3D transformations, but this is something I noticed long before hearing about the research.
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Old 29-08-2012, 02:57   #20
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

My wife and I have only a few signals. Forefinger up and spinning (rev 'er up baby!), meaning give it some gas.

Number of fingers displayed = boat lengths, changes to meters when less than a boat length.

Pointing means go there

forefinger pointed down and spinning means reverse.


Those seems to cover just about everything.
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:03   #21
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Re: Hand Signals - Anchoring etc

Nice thread ... I agree with the op that there ought to be some sort of standard.

The military seems to have a system to distinguish 'look there' from 'go there' -- pointing at your eyes first indicates that the direction indicated next means, 'look that way' as opposed to the same gesture without the eyes indication meaning 'go that way.'

I remember a piece about the Royal Yacht Britannica which reported that ALL deck operations were done by hand signal alone ... no shouting, ever.
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Old 06-09-2012, 14:58   #22
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Re: Hand Signals - Anchoring etc

I suppose when two people are engaged in one action - anchoring... then clear communication is mission critical. As a single hander I've had to develop techniques which can be done by one. I use all chain and a vertical windlass and with a little bit of wind I can get the anchor set. To be sure I can then back down to fig the anchor in but the wind will usually do this as evidenced from all the mud I pull up and plow (CQR).

a couple of things I use which anyone could find helpful are the following.

As I tow my dink when I stop to drop the hook the dink will keep moving and invariably end up along side the stern quarter and remain there as the wind pushes the boat aft as the chain is let out. The dink is being pulled BY the stern. Once the motion is stopped when the anchor sets and the chain is pulled to a catenary the wind will then push the dink aft. Even the slightest wind will do this. When the dink moves aft of the stern I am pretty sure the anchor is set.

The second "test" involves the use of the 1" braided on braid nylon snubber line which has a rubber mooring compensator. I hook this on at the length of the scope I want to be out... and them run more chain out which pulls the snubber with it over the anchor roller. I tie off the snubber and let out another 5' of chain and the snubber takes the load... the chain appears to drop almost straight down. The snubber and the chain *share*n the anchor roller. As the wind pushes the boat aft it pulls the chain and digs the anchor in. If the wind is strong the rope tensions and the compenator will stretch and the coils untwist a bit. This CANNOT happen if the anchor is being dragged as there's not enough tension on the snubber to untwist the compensator. I don't even have to anchor bow directly to wind... as the windage of the topsides will enable the wind to push the boat back and straighten it out. After a few minutes the hull is weather cocked to the wind.

I look aft to see where the dink sits and if it's behind the boat I'm pretty much set. I can then back down to be extra sure and the compensator will clearly show more tension in the line.

Basic anchoring made simple.
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Old 06-09-2012, 15:31   #23
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Re: Hand Signals - Anchoring Etc

As a single hander there is no need for hand signals, but I guess there is no one to blame if things go wrong
The most powerful method of determining if there is any movement backwards is looking at transits. A good set of transits can pick even a few feet of drag. It's also worth looking/ feeling the anchor rode which should be straight and constant without any dipping and releasing which is characteristic of a poorly set and moving anchor.

If you have significant prop walk, in light winds, a gps distance from the anchor can also be helpful, but it needs a differential signal to be accurate enough to be useful. The GPS can also be useful if setting the anchor away from the prevailing wind direction. The sideways drift makes transits difficult to evaluate, but the GPS distance will stay constant.
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