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Old 18-08-2012, 00:41   #1
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Hand Signals - Anchoring Etc

I want to develop a chart of simple hand signals so a person at the bow can communicate to the helm and maybe vice versa. This would mainly be for anchoring but could come in useful at other times. I have a pair of duplex wireless headsets but want to supplement these with a manual method, and probably choose the manual method most times.

With a landlubber as crew I prefer to send them to the bow and I would control the operation from the helm. But once I have confidence they can reliably operate the controls I would be at the bow and control from there.

So before I invent some signals, is there a standard that may cover most of what I need? For example, I have had the person on the bow pointing down to starboard, only to find as I headed there, they meant "Have you seen that nasty rock?"

I've had a search and the subject has come up here a few times, but I could not find a list of signals.

There seem to be as many different solutions as there are links on the 'net, but one that seems to cover it fairly well from the bow perspective is:

1. THE TARGET IS THAT WAY: Point to the location.
2. SLOW DOWN: Pam of the hand down and moving up and down.
3. SPEED UP: Palm of the hand up and moving up and down.
4. GO FORWARD: Finger, hand or arm pointing to and motioning forward. The higher the arm the further the target.
5. GO ASTERN: Finger, hand or arm pointing to and motioning aft.
6. GO TO STARBOARD: Finger, hand or arm pointing to and motioning starboard.
7. GO TO PORT: Finger, hand or arm pointing to and motioning port
8. PUT THE ENGINE IN NEUTRAL: A raised fist.
9. STOP THE BOAT where it is, go in reverse if needed, and maintain this station as
best you can: A raised hand with fingers splayed.
10. SHUT DOWN THE ENGINE: Cut throat motion.
11. LOWER THE ANCHOR: Thumb down.
12. RAISE THE ANCHOR: Thumb up.
13. STOP THE ANCHOR: Raised hand with fingers splayed.


Surely there would be a standard used for Navy or boating organisations.
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Old 18-08-2012, 01:39   #2
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

Not sure the person dropping the anchor needs to dictate what helming is needed as normally their view is less than the helms-person's, we have always done a cruise/run over the intended swing area to check depths, we agree on initial length of chain to drop.

I bring the boat back to my chosen drop spot and i nod indicating to lower the anchor and back slowly, my wife gives me thumbs up when required metres are out and i set the anchor using a transit as reference, at all times she points to the direction of the anchor/chain lead so i know where a square point is.
I only need to know the lay of the warp, engines are turned off probably 20 minutes after setting.
We reverse roles so her skills and understanding are maintained. Just don't see why you would need so many signals on a small boat......
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Old 18-08-2012, 02:03   #3
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My wife and I anchor with only hand signals and no talking...keeps the yelling down. We only have a couple of signals and it seems to work.

Person on anchor is facing forward.
Move forward: Either hand up by head with palm forward, waving forward and back
Turn Left: Left hand up by head with palm forward, waving left and right
Turn right: Right hand up by head with palm forward, waving right and left
Stop/hold position: Either hand up by head in a fist
Back: Either hand down by waist with palm back, waving forward and back

Works for us, but the best way to anchor well is to do it a lot. We also scope anchor locations together in the cockpit before we do final approach so we both are on the same page before one goes to the bow. Changing who is driving and who is tending the anchor periodically also helps as you know the role of the other
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Old 18-08-2012, 04:01   #4
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

Imho you have too many signals to convey from anchorman to helmsman. Judging by the bredth of your signals, the helmsman doesn't know what's going on AT ALL and only the anchorman can decide. In our experience anchoring is teamwork with both parties working together.

Based on above, we use only following signals with SLOW DOWN and SPEED UP only when we're looking for a sandy patch:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderlust View Post
1. THE TARGET IS THAT WAY: Point to the location.
2. SLOW DOWN: Pam of the hand down and moving up and down.
3. SPEED UP: Palm of the hand up and moving up and down.
10. SHUT DOWN THE ENGINE: Cut throat motion.
The following signals are the same as THE TARGET IS THAT WAY - by looking at you pointing the helmsman should know whether to go forward, astern, slow down, speed up, or turn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderlust View Post
4. GO FORWARD: Finger, hand or arm pointing to and motioning forward. The higher the arm the further the target.
5. GO ASTERN: Finger, hand or arm pointing to and motioning aft.
6. GO TO STARBOARD: Finger, hand or arm pointing to and motioning starboard.
7. GO TO PORT: Finger, hand or arm pointing to and motioning port
8. PUT THE ENGINE IN NEUTRAL: A raised fist.
9. STOP THE BOAT where it is, go in reverse if needed, and maintain this station as
best you can: A raised hand with fingers splayed.
And these are for the anchorman to do, no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderlust View Post
11. LOWER THE ANCHOR: Thumb down.
12. RAISE THE ANCHOR: Thumb up.
13. STOP THE ANCHOR: Raised hand with fingers splayed.
One more thing: your hand signals for SPEED UP and SLOW DOWN are almost identical. In a squall you won't be able to distinguish between the two. Thumb up and down work better.

You could also just use a walkie-talkie if such a strict control over the helmsman is required.
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Old 18-08-2012, 04:37   #5
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Our only communication is the helm says the depth. Then heads below to make cocktails. Seriously.

Here in Palau the bow person is sometimes tasked with finding a sandy spot. But that is maneuvering hand signals not anchoring.

We're always bewildered at the complex and often irate communications on many yachts.

Singlehanded. Simply omit the depth signal and slightly delay the cocktails with a trip to the bow.
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Old 18-08-2012, 06:27   #6
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Looking forward I use left arm out turn port right arm out turn stbd. hand up go to neutral/stop . If I turn around we're good. If I drop my hand and raise it repeatedly / wave i need more forward. When using a boat hook the boat hook determines direction. If I turn around and point that is reverse. Don't make it complicated. Everything has to be a clear deliberate sure gesture.
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Old 18-08-2012, 06:28   #7
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

Some simple signals. They should be made clearly, slowly and distinctly, without confusion between signals:

Hand with extended forefinger spun in circle: speed up

Palm pushed downward: slow down

Hand with fingers flat extended out to port or starboard, or ahead/astern: come left/right, advance/reverse

Palm raised: stop

Hand held to side, clawed fingers down: lower anchor

Clenched fist raised: rode vertical, anchor on bottom

Thumb up: maneuver completed successfully

Thumb down: maneuver failed


More advanced signals for eperienced crew:

Fist shaking: used to indicate appreciation of proximity of vessel to landmarks or shipping

Shaking both fists together: rendering compliments on finding another vessel's rode

Displaying the Thunderbird signal: used to reply "message received"

Double Thunderbird signal: used to reinforce clear reception of and agreement with previous signal

Exposed buttocks: exuberant greeting used when overcome with joy at successful communications

Facepalm: used to display admiration at dispay of superior skill

Hair-tearing: proceed with current manueuver

Jumping over the side: maneuver completed, seeking better vantagepoint to savour success

Rolling up sleeves: am coming to render assistance

Raised boathook: assistance not required

Finger drawn across throat: wish to discuss adjustments to crew station assignment

Singlehanders not usually required to use deck signalling, but may wish to do so to remain proficient, communicate with special invisible friends on crew, interact with other vessels, or just relieve boredom and amuse onlookers
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Old 18-08-2012, 06:33   #8
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

I have seen a certain 2 finger hand signal used to great effect when the helmsperson starts shouting . I also know most of the expletives in all languages that I learnt watching people anchor.
I agree a signalling system is sometime times vital. We sometimes drop the anchor in a small sandy patch and a comunication system is necessary.

Foolishsailor and Mich719 has given some great signals.

One other option to consider is a handheld UHF walkie talkie or as I have done an old VHF handheld marine radio. When there battery pack is dead they can be wired directly into 12v on the anchor winch controls.
If doing this be aware of clogging up the VHF airways, but voice comunication does help saftey.
"Can you see the snorkeller behind the blue boat" is hard to convey with hand signals.

Have some back up hand signals as well even if you do get the radio option
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Old 18-08-2012, 06:41   #9
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I forgot if I turn around and hastily head tword the cockpit that means you have no clue and screwed up.
Now I saw a couple the other day that only used one finger to communicate. In this case the bow women turns tword the cockpit and gives one finger to man skipper. This means full throttle reverse. If the man skipper acknowledges with same bow babe should dump the anchor and all chain.
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Old 18-08-2012, 06:45   #10
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

middle finger from helm: tone of voice not appreciated
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Old 18-08-2012, 08:29   #11
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

Weve been doing this for years. It works well. At night remember to illuminate the hand shining away from the helm. Oh, I had to re read this as in our case, Laura does the helm and I (himperson) do the stinky thing in the front.
Its not possible to raise your voice and it keeps tensions down. Makes anchoring a breeze. Go with what you have got and be ready to refine it as you go along. Some to add: We use seconds of ahead or astern to make fine adjustments, like 3 fingers raised then point ahead = 3 seconds ahead propulsion. A flat hand on the cheek then point to stbd or port = full rudder that way or this. A finger pointed back onto my nose indicates bring the boat 'head to weather' normally just before dropping the main, or when over that sandy spot.
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Old 18-08-2012, 09:43   #12
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

After a couple of yelling matches with the wife, we worked out hand signals that worked well for us. Much of it is similar to what is allready posted, but a few things I think(opinion?) are easier to understand. For forward or reverse I simply imitate the motion of the shift lever, of course in larger motions. Nuetral is arm waved out to the side with the palm vertical. Direction is simply point with a slow motion, if you want the helm hard over ,point in a fast motion. I see no reason for a cut the engine sign, since I always liked to go back to the cockpit and sit for 10 minutes to decide if I really like the location before I back down to set the hook. Upon entering an anchorage we would discuss the general plan and one of us would go to the bow and be in charge until the boat was anchored. The person on the bow has a much better idea of the boats forward speed(or reverse) and when to lay out the chain. Backing down to set the anchor is better judged from the cockpit. When I went aboard a 100 ton motor yacht as mate with about 4000 lbs of ground tackle the Captain was pleased from the beginning with my signals. We refined a few things for both anchors on all chain, but the basics work. Almost any system of signals that you use often enough to stay in practice will work but a uniform system that could be taught is a good idea. Watching charter boats in the Islands would convince any sailor of the need for good hand signals.______Another of my 2 cents worth.________Grant.
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Old 18-08-2012, 18:00   #13
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

This is sorta funny but also sort of serious... Anyway - Our signals are

Point starboard - steer starboard
Point port - steer port
Arm bent up at elbow - Go forward. Five fingers splayed >5 boat lengths to target. Four fingers splayed = 4 boat lengths to target (3, 2, 1) - Closed fist = Tranny to neutral & engine to idle (i.e. stop boat - but really you don't "stop" - you go neutral and drift)
Arm bent down at elbow - back down the boat - More splayed fingers = more aggressive throttle - i.e. 5 fingers is floor it in reverse we are about to hit a rock.
Arm waved back and forth over head - Abort and retry
Thumbs up - Mooring captured or anchor down - drill complete.
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Old 18-08-2012, 18:07   #14
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

Oh I forgot one...

Both arms over head - right hand fist repeatedly placed into left hand cupped = Pull your head outta your...
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Old 18-08-2012, 18:39   #15
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Re: Hand signals - anchoring etc

Gosh !! it's so much easier with a remote for the windless !! LOL the wife and I don't need to get upset with each other and very seldom flash hand or finger signals to eacn other!! makes for much better attitudes after anchoring!! much better !! it's the main reason we spent the money to install this system !! Happyness LOL It works for us and really works when your by yourself!! just sayin some fancy stuff is really worthwhile!!
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