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Old 07-07-2022, 14:39   #1
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Anchoring solo after sundown

I am slowing increasing my daily solo sailing until time to anchor. Soon, I will be in the situation of anchoring after sundown, perhaps after dark.

Any advice how how to anchor safely with decreased light solo? Or what to avoid?
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Old 07-07-2022, 14:56   #2
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

If you know the anchorage and there is still some light then same as daylight but slowly. Beware of unlight tenders and unlight boats at anchor.

At night I stay from anchorages I don't know or can't see. I either time it to arrive in daylight or slow down and spend another night at sea. Not worth the risk.
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Old 07-07-2022, 14:57   #3
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

If you have radar turn it on when visibility is reduced. I once found a small mooring field where I was planning to anchor. No anchor lights, not indicated on the chart.
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Old 07-07-2022, 15:06   #4
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

A chart plotter makes it quite easy although I did take my light with me forward.

I have a chart plotter on my laptop using OpenCPN and several GPS inputs. I moved my laptop into the cockpit and at first it blinded me until I found the intensity adjustment keys.

This creek is very narrow.

My engine kept turning off so I had to anchor 3X coming into Occohannock Creek on the Eastern Shore of VA.

Also only the first two channel markers had lights. The rest did not and a few were tiny buoys.

I came in at about 10:30 pm after sailing 50 miles from VA Beach/Norfolk after taking 1/2 day off work

Max depth in a couple spots was 4'-5'

It was so dark in there the Milky Way was quite visible and the Big Dipper, was easy to see.

https://www.charts.noaa.gov/PDFs/12226.pdf
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Old 07-07-2022, 18:48   #5
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

A darned good spotlight is a near necessity.

PS: you are in VA of the USA, so your charts and chart plotter are likely good. Farther afield, maybe not so much, so radar, depth sounder, spotlight, etc are really important.
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Old 07-07-2022, 20:27   #6
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

I saw every channel marker or buoy with my light before I passed it. My old Humminbird 250dx depth finder was on as well with its backlight

Bulb in light blew as I was anchoring for the last time leaving just my AA flashlight
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Old 07-07-2022, 20:40   #7
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

When I have done it, I don't spend a long time looking for the perfect spot. I get to anchoring depth, even if it's much deeper or further from shore than I would prefer, use a spotlight to check for enough room around me to swing, and drop it. The idea is to take the first safe spot you can. Then I move in the morning.
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Old 07-07-2022, 21:23   #8
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

one thing i have noticed when anchoring in the dark in an unfamiliar location - whether solo or not - is we go in as close as we dare on the chart plotter...and invariably when we get up in the morning we find ourselves asking "why did we anchor all the way out here ?"

usually find ourselves moving further in straight after breakfast

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Old 08-07-2022, 02:28   #9
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisr View Post
one thing i have noticed when anchoring in the dark in an unfamiliar location - whether solo or not - is we go in as close as we dare on the chart plotter...and invariably when we get up in the morning we find ourselves asking "why did we anchor all the way out here ?"

usually find ourselves moving further in straight after breakfast

cheers,

Yes distances at night are foreshortened, especially if there are bright lights on the shore.


Buy an powerful LED spotlight no one has bulbs blow any more.


Plot a WP before entering the anchorage and use a tight arrival radius audio alarm to help when you get near rather than having to refer to the plotter. Far better to be on deck with good night vision than relaying on a screen.


Have a reliable chain stopper that you can use to hold the chain in the event of a sudden gust and allow you to get back to the engine controls to balance things up again.



If it's blowing and you don't know the anchorage hove to and wait for daylight.
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Old 08-07-2022, 03:05   #10
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

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Originally Posted by Tupaia View Post
Yes distances at night are foreshortened, especially if there are bright lights on the shore.


Buy an powerful LED spotlight no one has bulbs blow any more.


Plot a WP before entering the anchorage and use a tight arrival radius audio alarm to help when you get near rather than having to refer to the plotter. Far better to be on deck with good night vision than relaying on a screen.


Have a reliable chain stopper that you can use to hold the chain in the event of a sudden gust and allow you to get back to the engine controls to balance things up again.



If it's blowing and you don't know the anchorage hove to and wait for daylight.
Night vison wouldn't have helped in my situation.

It was black dark with a slice of new moon. You couldn't see much at all and the creek is very, very narrow...... and shallow in spots in the channel with 1' depth sometimes along the channel edges

Occohannock Creek. (enlargen chart and move to see more East side) Depth is 4'-5' at Marker G5.

I anchored South of G15 near the piles that night as wind was SW at 16-17 knots overnight then moved over to South of G13 next day due to crab pots too close. Wind was up next day also. This in the protected creek. See flag in photo.

https://www.charts.noaa.gov/PDFs/12226.pdf

As will happen in sailing, I had planned to be anchored way before dark but the wind rotated ruling out my primary exposed anchorage just North of Cape Charles at Smith's Beach along the Bay Eastern Side.

Also the Coast Guard attempted a boarding near there but I kept sailing and pointing ahead because I was near low water, sailing single handed, and it was rough. Just going forward to lower sail would have been tough. They finally figured all that out and told me they were letting me go.

For you locals, the Coast Guard is out at times checking on all, those anchored tankers and bulk carriers anchored just off Cape Charles. So I guess they are boarding random passers by also. They got an employees of mine on his "new" power boat and made him return to shore for new flares.

If I'd have hove to I would have either been blown ashore or maybe back out into the shipping lane. The well protected anchorage in the creek was a must for me.

Chain stopper?

Not sure how that will help after my 40' of chain are lying on the sea bed. A cleat works pretty good though for you rope rode.
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Old 08-07-2022, 03:08   #11
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
Night vison wouldn't have helped in my situation.

It was black dark with a slice of new moon. You couldn't see much at all and the creek is very, very narrow.

Occohannock Creek.

https://www.charts.noaa.gov/PDFs/12226.pdf

As will happen in sailing, I had planned to be anchored way before dark but the wind rotated ruling out my primary exposed anchorage just North of Cape Charles at Smith's Beach along the Bay Eastern Side.

Also the Coast Guard attempted a boarding near there but I kept sailing and pointing ahead because I was near low water, sailing single handed, and it was rough. Just going forward to lower sail would have been tough. They finally figured all that out and told me they were letting me go.

For you local, the Coast Guard is out at times checking on all, those anchored tankers and bulk carriers anchored just off Cape Charles.

If I'd have hove to I would have either been blown ashore or maybe back out into the shipping lane.

Chain stopper?

Not sure how that will help after my 40' of chain are lying on the sea bed. A cleat works pretty good though for you rope rode.

Seems you are well sorted.
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Old 08-07-2022, 03:22   #12
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

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Seems you are well sorted.
Home waters. I grew up 9 miles from there as the crow flies. 15 -17 miles on the winding roads

Last time in that creek though was when I was 13 but most creeks on that side of the lower bay are similar as are the bottoms.

CQR anchors work well which is why my new Mantus M1 isn't hooked up yet.
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Old 08-07-2022, 11:24   #13
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

Thanks, all.

No radar on my boat and no powerful spotlight. I will get a spotlight, maybe radar in a few years.
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Old 08-07-2022, 14:15   #14
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

And a simple head light.
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Old 08-07-2022, 15:43   #15
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Re: Anchoring solo after sundown

G'day, Dr. D,

I'd suggest you mark your rode in depths, so you can follow how much rode you have out. If you know the depth of the anchorage, the type of bottom --more is needed for thin mud-- and the state of the tide, you'll be able to calculate how much you'll want to have out. With all chain, we usually use 3:1; when we used to anchor on rope rode, 5:1. [Ours is marked by roughly a yard long different colored 3 mm polyester braid, in 25' batches (repeating the sequence, to 300 ft.) but we anchor deeper than it sounds as if the East Coast usually demands. We have tried marking it with paint, but sand takes it off quickly; we tried numbered tags and different colored cable ties, but the windlass eats them. A friend has tried them, and likes them.]

Spotlights are very good for spotting little dark buoys (like for crab pots), which someone may have placed where you want to anchor. Jim's headlight isn't quite bright enough for those, but he wears one when anchoring, the better to watch for the chain depth markers. I agree with the post above, once you get to the depth and general area you want, check that there's nothing on the water (boats, buoys, etc) that you may need to avoid) then drop the hook and set it, you can always join the mob in closer in the morning. That said, we prefer to arrive at anchorages in daylight, and will leave somewhere earlier, in order to arrive on our time schedule. Also prefer to avoid low angle sun in the eyes.

If you don't like the idea of the entry or anchorage at night because of submerged coral heads, or rocky reefs, under the sand, or ANY other thing, it is way safer to head back out to sea to wait safely back and forth on the main sail, or, heaving to on the offshore tack. Land is where the hard bits are, the sea is the safer place, most of the time.

Finally, approach new-to-you anchorages slowly, because you may find something that you need to reverse away from to avoid, and the less momentum you have built up, the easier it will be. If you shift to a folding prop from a 3 blade for the sailing speed improvement, your folder will not provide as much oomph in reverse as you were used to, so you can start checking how far it takes you to stop for different speeds.

Ann

One other thing: if you are expecting a big blow, you should allow enough room for your whole swinging circle that you can veer out more chain (or rope), so you need to allow more than you will need. With your Bene, you will lie more to current than catamarans, so you will have to allow more space; also, in wind against the tide situations the two types of boats will behave differently, and you may again need to allow more space.
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