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Old 20-10-2014, 15:42   #1
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New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

So we tried sailing off of our anchor (upwind) a couple weeks ago and had a nasty surprise.

Usually we would use the windlass to pull us up to the anchor (wind was light, so I could pulse it to tighten the rode, then let the weight of the chain pull us forward, repeat). We then use the boat's momentum to keep us going as I winch up the anchor off the bottom and off we go. There's usually enough momentum that we can steer onto our preferred tack, and as soon as I have the anchor out of the water we can crank out the genoa and power up.

Problem was, when we got to the anchor we stopped dead. It was too deep in the mud. I could slowly work it out with the windlass, but we had zero steerageway, so we just drifted back onto the wrong tack and everything was a bit of a mess. We ended up using the engine to get us turned onto the right tack and get us out of there.

Does anybody have any advice on what we could have done better? Maybe backed the main to one side to help push us backwards the other way, then powered up and headed out?
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Old 20-10-2014, 16:09   #2
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Re: New Gen anchor problem- sailing off anchor

I would've,and do, start the engine sooner. Not what I bet you wanted to hear.
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Old 20-10-2014, 16:52   #3
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Re: New Gen anchor problem- sailing off anchor

We motor forward, then go to neutral, while I pick up and stow all the slack in the chain. As the boat begins drifting backwards and the chain goes taut, I put the chain in the stopper. Then repeat. Eventually the chain becomes vertical (our Manson Supreme hates to let go of the bottom). By keeping tension on the chain the anchor will break out and you can pick it up. I usually pull it up by hand but sometimes feel lazy and use the windlass.

On calm days I dont use the engine at all, just let the weight of the chain pull the boat foreward. Old timers call this "letting the cat do it", referring to the catenary in the chain rode. This is on a 37ft, 20000lb cutter with 100+ feet of 3/8" chain and a 45lb manson anchor.
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Old 20-10-2014, 17:00   #4
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

I like the "letting the cat do it" saying. I'll use that one!

So now you're dead in the water over top of your manson supreme. How do you get sailing off in the direction you want to go? Do you back the main?

It all used to be so graceful and effortless with the CQR since it wouldn't even slow the boat as I popped it off the bottom, so we could put the wheel over onto our tack and off we'd go.
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Old 20-10-2014, 17:04   #5
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

I would suggest that you do everything that you are accustomed to doing in your past while "sailing off the anchor" except for one change. Go ahead and pull out about 25% of you genoa and leave it loosely sheeted and unpowered. When you anchor breaks free backwind your jib by hand to force your turn to the tack that you desire.
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Old 20-10-2014, 17:07   #6
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

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I would suggest that you do everything that you are accustomed to doing in your past while "sailing off the anchor" except for one change. Go ahead and pull out about 25% of you genoa and leave it loosely sheeted and unpowered. When you anchor breaks free backwind your jib by hand to force your turn to the tack that you desire.
Ooh, I like that. It's only partly unrolled, so it's over my head while I work on the bow, it's way up front so there's good lever arm to spin the bow, and I'm the one doing it, so my wife who is on the wheel and all stressed out about hitting other boats can concentrate on what she's doing and I can just reach up and spin us in the right direction.

I must try that.
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Old 20-10-2014, 18:04   #7
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

I'm with Sailorboy, you have an engine... use it. Why complicate things?
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Old 20-10-2014, 18:18   #8
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

When we had to sail off the hook, we used the main, and tacked up to the anchor, with Jim pulling in the chain. Then, when it was straight up and down, (time for the last tack) he'd check to see for the timing of it, so that we'd be on the preferred tack, and I continued sailing on the main till we could get the staysail (which tacks faster than the genoa) pulling, too, then continued tacking out. It's a bit stressful in close quarters (reefs and mudbanks), but it is great to practice just in case something fails that makes it not okay to use the engine. (For instance, oil filter gasket failure.)

I'm glad to see you practising, Mr. Wyckham, kudos to you.

Ann
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Old 20-10-2014, 18:30   #9
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

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I'm with Sailorboy, you have an engine... use it. Why complicate things?
Most people with a sailboat have already decided to "complicate things." We could have just bought a motorboat and then life would be easier.

I always have a sense of peace when I shut the motor off. I also love a bit of a challenge. And, as Ann says, the engine doesn't always start!

When sailing from Victoria, Canada to San Francisco, we wrapped the prop on day two. After trying to fix it at sea, we sailed down and then into Drake's bay. We anchored under sail at 1am and it was no stress because we'd anchored under sail before (and it's a big bay with good holding and the weather was good).

We managed to clear the wrap, but the transmission was damaged. We did manage to get it in gear, but if we hadn't, we would have just sailed off the anchor and continued into SF, using the tender and outboard for the last few hundred meters into an unfamiliar anchorage.

I think it should be a skill that everyone practices on occasion. And it's fun.
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Old 20-10-2014, 18:50   #10
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

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I like the "letting the cat do it" saying. I'll use that one! So now you're dead in the water over top of your manson supreme. How do you get sailing off in the direction you want to go? Do you back the main?
With our rig I've found that slacking the main and flattening/backing the genoa will turn the bow down well enough to get her underway, then ease the genny, bring the main in until she's drawing well and adjust the jib. Our boat has a long full keel with a cutaway forefoot.

Hudson Force may have explained it better.
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Old 20-10-2014, 18:51   #11
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

We sail into and off of anchor on occasion, and we've always had good luck "pumping the rudder" when needed after weighing anchor. This is where you slowly move the rudder to one side, and then quickly swing it to full rudder on the other side (being careful of the rudder stop). Repeat as necessary to create enough drift for the wind to catch the bow. I've had backwinding the main as my next course of action, but never had to go there. Of course, different boat styles would be more conducive to pumping the rudder than others.

Have fun,

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Old 20-10-2014, 19:17   #12
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

My method is non-standard... but it has always worked.

  • Pull up to the anchor, windlass or by hand.
  • Put the rudder over to the side I do not want to go to (the boat is backing).
  • Pop the genoa out once the wind is ~ abeam.
  • Zoom.
If the anchorage is tight I wouldn't try it. One wind shift--and often the wind is fluky in harbor--and I'm into someone with no defensible excuse.
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Old 21-10-2014, 02:34   #13
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

I posted the following on another thread awhile ago – heres a thought – if you go for a new design anchor – like, as in the example below, a delta – part of the trade might be that you can go with a lighter, smaller anchor. I suspect what most folks are doing is going either same weight or bigger with the unintended consequence that (a) their existing winch is now overloaded and (b) as in the OP, manoevering the new anchor off the seabed is a bit more complicated...


This happened recently - i dropped my pick in a tight anchorage - after a few hours the guy in the boat next me came back in his dinghy - after about 10 minutes he was calling out that i'd anchored on top of him - I reckoned it was close but he could pull his anchor if he needed to, offered to haul in my chain when he wanted to go. That lasted about 5 minutes then he was callling out again - he decided to pull his anchor and move (thats what I normally do if i think someone is too close - but without the whining first) so he hits his winch and by the time the chain is vertical hes still got plenty of room - but now his anchor wont come up - I asked him what kind of anchor it was, he said "a dirty big one", After another round of histrionics he did a full circle around the anchor and it finally came up - looked like a 50kg delta - way too big and way too heavy for his winch once it was dug in. I reckon if he'd tried to pull it up by hand it'd still be there. I didnt bother asking him but I'm willing to bet he replaced a perfectly good and suitable 30kg anchor with that monster and has to do 360's around it every damn time he pulls it.
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Old 21-10-2014, 05:03   #14
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

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I always have a sense of peace when I shut the motor off.
So do I, but I also have a sense of peace of mind with the engine running while I'm coming into/out of an anchorage.
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Old 21-10-2014, 09:24   #15
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Re: New Gen Anchor Problem- Sailing off Anchor

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So do I, but I also have a sense of peace of mind with the engine running while I'm coming into/out of an anchorage.
Yes, if it's a bit doubtful and we want to practice sailing in/out we'll sometimes have the engine on and in neutral. I far prefer not even starting it, though if we can.

Of course, we only sail on or off the anchor about 5-10% of the time. Enough to keep the skills up, in theory, and to have some fun and challenge when the mood strikes.
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