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Old 09-09-2010, 15:26   #16
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I cruised with a 22kg Bruce and 200' of 5/16 chain on my Endeavour 37 (37', 18000lb, 5' draft), single handing most of the time. It can be easily and safely done but does require some pre-planning, patience, and a bit of luck. I didn't have a working windlass so this is what I did.

- I looked at the chart and figured out the approximate depth of the harbor.
- As I entered the harbor, I looked where the boats were anchoring and watching the depth sounder did a bit of scouting.
- When I was sure about the depth, I fell back behind the boats and pulled out enough chain to allow me a 3:1 scope if the winds were light and 5:1 if the winds were stiff.
- I carefully flaked out the chain on the deck (usually starboard side as that was the side with the Bruce). I prepped the anchor to drop but kept the line secure to the bow cleat.
- Now I returned to my selected spot and slowly motored into the wind. When I got about a boat length away (the distance will depend on your vessel and conditions), I made sure the vessel wouldn't bear off and headed to the bow.
- At the point where I thought the boat was about at 0kt forward speed, I slowly dropped the anchor and let out the chain in a controlled manner. As the boat started to move astern, I kept feeding out the chain. I secured the chain at the scope I wanted to a cleat and quickly returned to the helm.
- I'd put the engine in forward for a few seconds to slow the speed of the boat and let it fall off in a controlled manner. The idea was for the boat to gently pull the chain tight, not snap it tight.
- Most times the bow would come around into the wind and I'd wait few minutes to make sure the anchor had bitten. I'd go forward to check the chain and make sure things were secure. I'd look at the chain and carefully place my foot on the chain. I found that if the anchor was dragging, I could feel the vibrations in the chain.
- If things looked good, I'd go back and put the engine in idle reverse, then go check the chain again. I was looking for a nice tight chain with no sag or sagging.
- If things looked good, I'd increase the revs in reverse for a few seconds to make sure the anchor was set.
- If thing still looked good, I'd secure everything, grab the snorkel gear and dive the anchor. If things looked OK, then I was probably set. If not, then I corrected the problem and redove the anchor.
- When I was sure I wasn't going anywhere, I returned to the boat, put the snubber on, logged the GPS and bearings, and relaxed.
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Old 09-09-2010, 16:00   #17
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I've only ever solo'ed for day trips, and once at a marina overnight. However, I really like the idea of the peace and solitude of anchoring out alone, but I must say I'm somewhat intimidated at the prospect.

Assuming the weather is cooperating and the forecast is accurate, does anyone have any techniques / order of operations that they have found work well for both dropping the hook and retrieving?

Rob
Rob--

Somewhat off topic but I just felt it important to post. Be very careful anchoring alone!!! And yes, you maybe always wear a PFD and it is especially important when alone.

About 10 years ago we lost a close friend who went fishing alone off Pigs & Sows in Buzzards Bay. The best people could ascertain is he fell overboard trying to retrieve his anchor. He is still missed today.

Have great fun and enjoyment, but watch out, be careful, be safe.

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Old 09-09-2010, 17:29   #18
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Rob--

Somewhat off topic but I just felt it important to post. Be very careful anchoring alone!!! And yes, you maybe always wear a PFD and it is especially important when alone.
I'm so sorry to hear about your friend, and thank you for your thoughts. I'm quite diligent about my PFD (I have a 2-year old son and everyone ALWAYS wear their "boat coats", no exceptions), but your point is well taken!
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Old 09-09-2010, 18:10   #19
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Great question RSmacG. Though I find anchoring the easy part. It's the retreival that I have had the most problem with as a single sailor. You anchor in calm conditions but, when you ready to leave sometimes the wind has really picked up. Though there was a lot of good advice here that I will try in the future. I busted a windlass shaft key trying to pull in the anchor in 15+ knot winds earlier this summer. Since the wind was so strong and the fetch created two foot seas it was a bear (especially after the windlass broke) Would motoring up have worked in those conditions? I was concerned that the boat would veer off and break the windlass (which happened anyway). Would like to here how other single handed sailors would have dealt with the situation in raising the anchor in those conditions when sailing solo.
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Old 09-09-2010, 18:18   #20
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With any skill whether it be anchoring, mooring approaches, or whatever, take several hours and just practice it. Get your someone to go out with you and find somewhere with sufficiently shallow water that isn't crowded (doesn't have to be an "anchorage") and have them as backup while you drop, set, and retrieve anchor until you feel confident about how to manage it. Make sure you're wearing gloves, cause your hands will be abused by the end of the day. Try all these recommendations and play with some other ideas that come to your while you're in the middle of it. You'll find what works for you.
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Old 09-09-2010, 18:23   #21
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If you cannot get the anchor up in heavy weather you must either stay or cut yourself free. Tie a float to the rode so you can come back and get it later.

Moving up to, or past, the anchor then running up to pull in a little slack has never worked well for me as the boat moves off so fast in those conditions.

If it's more wind than seas you might work the rode around aft to where you can more easily maneuver and pull at the same time. Watch the prop....
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Old 09-09-2010, 18:45   #22
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A vang tackle or luff tackle with a stopper on one end and cleated off will be useful if you have trouble breaking out... and with a little creative juggling you can cleat the tackle off for a temporary hold on a short stay or once the anchor is aweigh...helps if you need to dance back to regain control of the boat...or sheet in a sail..whatever..
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Old 09-09-2010, 20:37   #23
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I'll put on my flame suit for this... but when alone, I use a Fortress 23 (I'm only on a CAL28) with 6' of chain, and 3/4" nylon. If pulling by hand isn't possible, I have a power windlass in the cockpit and have guides made out of King Starboard that route the rode to it without chafing the hull/house. I tail the rode in the cockpit until the anchor is in the davit.... Dog the tag line to a cleat, and clean up the whole mess to the rode locker once my trusty pilot (his name is Otto.... Otto Pilot) can take the helm safely.
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Old 10-09-2010, 14:55   #24
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In Tonga where most sand is only a light layer overhard coral, I used my coral pin, a 5/8th galv eyebolt. I would swim down and with a hammer and try find a crack in the underlying coral. I would then pound the pin in the crack and tie it to my anchor, with a six foot line. Any pull would be sideways, but when it came time to up anchor, an upward pull would pull it out of the crevice.
I slept well ,with the anchor pinned in a crevice that way.
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Old 10-09-2010, 15:18   #25
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One other way to pull the anchor is with a buoy Anchor Pullers - The Best Way to Retrieve Your Anchor

Never seen it done with a sailboat, but I'm sure it would work. In tight anchorages, however, it might be a problem.
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Old 10-09-2010, 16:11   #26
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Excalibur5:

Interesting idea. Might be useful if it would work with a single handed sailboat even if it takes a few tries. Getting up to 5 knots could be a problem in a tight anchorage though. But, definately worth some more research. It took me about 45 minutes to pull in that 100 feet of chain by hand after the windlass key broke. Don't want to do that again if I can avoid it.
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Old 10-09-2010, 16:27   #27
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Ok... here we go... I do things a little differently. I come into the anchorage and circle it at least once checking the lay and type of any boats already there... noting the depth as I go. I never like to anchor in more than 6metres of water as I like to handball the anchor whether I've a windlass on the boat or not.
I have a plastic tie at every 5metres of the chain so I can count the amount as I pay it out...
Once I've chosen the spot I motor slowly or sail under main up toward the release point then either drop into neutral or release the mainsheet, turn nose to wind then go forward and drop the hook feeding it out by hand as the boat looses way... occasionally 'braking' to keep the chain laying straight and to start the bedding in process. once I reach the desired mark, usually depth + 3 x boat length I tie off and deal with the main or engine... by the time I've finished shes lying nicely and its time for a beer.
I do'nt believe in the plowing technique employed by many... it destroys the bottom and does not really bed you in any better....
When raising it I hoist the main and sheet it taut in the centre and leave the tiller/wheel loose then goes forward and start hauling in... the boat will then start to turn toward whichever way the chain is laying and the weight comes of as she take the wind in the main... this gives you time to haul in 5+ metres before she starts to go to far, lock the chain and this causes her to swing the other way... basically you walk the boat up to the lift point... just be careful and make sure the direction she falls of as you free the hook is away from any boats close by... you have time to make fast the hook and lash it before wandering back to the tiller/wheel giving it another 30degree lock and roll out your Genny to power you away...
I've used this technique for years in boats of all sizes upto 37ft even in crowded anchorages like Soller in Majorca... though I suggest you practice and polish your technique and get to know how your boat behaves before that...lol
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Old 10-09-2010, 17:01   #28
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mbianka:

I believe the anchor retrieval buoy are really intended to be used with a minimal length of chain in your anchor rode (less than 10' of chain - the remainder rope)

I have done this on a small fishing boat where we anchored in about 150' of water to fish for a few hours. Worked like a charm. Just be sure to drive in a large circle to avoid getting the line in the prop.
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Old 10-09-2010, 17:27   #29
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I suspect this will involve some nimble antics on my part, but I would be very grateful if anyone could share any hard-won tips, tricks or procedures to make the process smoother...

Cheers,
Rob
Nimble antics is right. After a spell of solo anchoring having a mate is a real pleasure. I use all chain and don't like to let it pile up so once I'm in position I run forward and drop enough to get the anchor down. If I'm not moving toward stern at this point I race back and make sure it is moving then forward to let out chain. If at any point I stop motion again I race back and get her going again until I have enough out. I usually find that I can get the boat moving forward by hand hauling the chain (those gloves sure come in handy) but if I can't then it's back to the cockpit to get her moving forward. Great fun and no doubt a spectacle for those who like to watch others anchor .
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Old 10-09-2010, 18:15   #30
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Nimble antics is right. After a spell of solo anchoring having a mate is a real pleasure. I use all chain and don't like to let it pile up so once I'm in position I run forward and drop enough to get the anchor down. If I'm not moving toward stern at this point I race back and make sure it is moving then forward to let out chain. If at any point I stop motion again I race back and get her going again until I have enough out. I usually find that I can get the boat moving forward by hand hauling the chain (those gloves sure come in handy) but if I can't then it's back to the cockpit to get her moving forward. Great fun and no doubt a spectacle for those who like to watch others anchor .
It's imperative that all movement on your deck be made slowly to demonstrate to everyone who is watching you in judgment that you are in control! Casual movement and a successful anchor deployment can result in someone else buying you a beer during happy hour.
All of the suggestions listed above are correct, as anchoring techniques must be adjusted for a variety of situations.
In other words..it depends.
I had 300 feet of 5/16 ht chain with a 45# Bruce with a electric winless with a remote control in the cockpit. Anchoring at Cabo San Lucas a week after the Baha-ha-ha had arrive I anchored at the outer edge of the field in 85 feet of water! I tied my 5/8" rope rode from my secondary anchor to the end of the chain and let out 50'" so I'd insure the boat was there when I returned.
When I anchored in front of Larry Ellisons RISING SUN, a giga-yacht by the way, at St Barth's after dark, I put out 300 feet in 30 feet of water. (he has a guard boat which circles his yacht 24 hours a day).
I did notice that while my windless was broken, I sometimes wouldn't put out enough scope because I really didn't like to drag it all back aboard.
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