I’ve been hauling anchor as a single
hander on my Caliber 40 for over 20-years at many hundreds of anchorages
. Careful analysis of dangers and exit courses is essential. A well thought out plan that is kept firmly in mind is critical. As with all aspects of single
handing – slow, methodical, and safe is absolutely necessary.
- plan for your departure before dropping anchor. Are there obstructions near by, is there a clear path to deep water, will there be a problem if the wind reverses, will changing currents be a problem, will other boats anchor near you and make it difficult to safely haul anchor and leave? You may find yourself pulling anchor in unanticipated conditions so plan for those conditions.
- have a chain stopper or easy to use chain hook/line/cleat for quickly and securely snubbing the chain while retrieving it
- an anchor buoy helps you know where the anchor is but is also prone to tangling with the anchor chain if you are in an area of reversing winds and/or currents. I have had several such occurrences that require many hours to untangle the anchor buoy line and the chain.
control or a long control cable to windlass is very helpful
- an anchor locker
with chain fall that allows retrieved chain to stack but not castle is very useful (My boat does not fit this requirement. I need to knock over the castle every 50-feet or so and it is a real PITA)
The exact anchor retrieval technique depends on the situation but usually involves something like:
- make sure engine is warm and running well
- ensure you know the depths of water and locations of obstructions in a full circle at least ¼ mile around boat
- ensure you know the path to clear water
- ensure everything on bow needed for anchor retrieval is in place, clear of obstructions, ready of immediate use
- test engine & transmission
in forward and reverse before starting anchor retrieval
- plan for procedure to be used when anchor breaks free. Will you be able to stay on bow and keep hoisting anchor or will the bow blow off, due to current
or wind, and head
the boat into danger
- engage forward and let boat gain some momentum moving forward over the chain (this is where the anchor buoy is useful). On my boat I want it moving fast enough that it will continue forward (this depends on local wind and current) for at least 15-seconds after putting throttle to neutral
- put transmission
- run forward to bow (or step up to side deck
with remote control) and retrieve chain while boat continues to move forward. If you time it right and control the windlass speed correctly you can keep the boat slowly moving forward while the windlass retrieves the chain with little strain.
- if the wind and or current
stops the boat while pulling chain you need to decide if the strain on the windlass is more than appropriate. If so, then use the chain stopper or chain hook to secure the chain and return to the cockpit to put engine in forward and start procedure over again
- once anchor is off the bottom employ the PRE-PLANNED technique for retrieving the anchor
- if in calm conditions, no current, little wind, OR the boat is safely clear of all obstacles then keep pulling the anchor and secure it on deck
- if the boat is headed toward danger
(other boats, rocks, shallow water, breaking waves) then pull anchor far enough off the bottom that it will not engage the bottom or obstructions while you motor
. Firmly secure the chain so it will not lower as you motor to safety
- once well clear of all danger either stop the boat (calm settled conditions) and secure the anchor and clear the foredeck. Or, engage the autopilot and slowly motor to clear water while you clear up all anchor related equipment
on the bow