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Anchoring made easy

Now your sails are down after a perfect day of sailing and it is time to secure the boat for the night in another gorgeous anchorage. Here are some tips to remember.


1. On approach, bring the dinghy up tight behind (if towing it), then start the engine and drop sails.

2. Upon consulting the chart and viewing from a distance, pick a general area to drop the anchor in.

3. One person goes forward, (practice your hand signal prior) or wear headphones for ease of communicating with the other at the helm.

4. Consider a scope of 5 to 1 (5 feet of chain for every foot of water) if you have mostly chain, mostly rope you should use a scope of 7 to 1 (seven feet of rope to one foot of water).

Some tips for anchorage on your yachting vacation.

5. Circle around the area, checking how other boats are anchored and lying, watching the depth sounder. Watch the color of the bottom (if possible) and look for sandy spots. Avoid places where the bottom slopes downhill.

6. Prepare the anchor by letting off a little chain, and then tip the anchor forward. Pick a spot just behind or off the quarter of another boat and calculate the scope needed according to water depth, state of tide, and weather.

7. Go slowly towards the spot, headed into the wind, so that all way is off as you reach the spot.

8. Slowly drop the anchor and lay it on the bottom, then as the boat drifts back, gradually release an additional amount of chain. Avoid piling chain on top of the anchor. Let the boat drift back in the wind.

9. Patiently wait and watch the boat drift back and then slowly turn nose to the wind, this will tell you that the anchor is holding. If this doesn't happen, assume you are dragging and start hauling in the chain. If this action brings the boat around, then the anchor has bitten and you can continue anchoring. If not, then haul up anchor and begin again.

10. Once the boat headed back with bow into the wind and the anchor rope going straight ahead, gently go into reverse, and gradually increase RPM's a bit for about 10-15 seconds. Watch the rope tighten, and then bounce when the engine goes back into neutral. If in doubt, feel the rope / chain for vibrations by putting your barefoot on it (an indication that it is skipping along the bottom).

11. Note your position relative to other boats, and landmarks, and take a GPS reading if deemed necessary.

12. Once she seems to be secure, turn off the engine. Put on the snubber to add stretch to the rope and take strain off the windlass. If we have all chain out plus some line, tie a dock line with a rolling hitch to the rope, and secure it to a deck cleat to take the strain off the windlass. For the next hour, check your position periodically to make sure you are in the same place.

Additional notes

Be sure you have a full understanding of the manual operation of the windlass, just in case it decides to take a vacation or runaway.

Always keep your distance of at least a foot away from the windlass. Remember flesh, bone and chain do not make great friends.

When you are ready to depart the anchorage, motor forward to take the strain off the windlass, remove the snubber or dock line, begin raising the anchor in increments of twenty to thirty seconds with a two second rest in between. (This will prevent the windlass circuit breaker from overheating and tripping at a most inconvenient time).

Remember safety is always first so let your first instinct be your guide.

From the caribbean and the meditteranean, we are committed to you, so let us take you there!  Blue Odyssey Vacations.
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