Preview: “Anchoring When Solo – The Head-to-Wind Drop Under Sail or Power”

January 11, 2017

Karen Sullivan

This is an article from Good Old Boat (a magazine we like a lot), written by OCH Guide Karen Sullivan. Good Old Boat and Karen have graciously allowed us to republish it for OCH members.

No matter how you anchor, the basics are the same: have your ground tackle ready for instant use, choose your anchorage with care, and visualize your boat spaced evenly among the neighboring ones while riding along the perimeter of a circle drawn by your rode as its radius. Good ground tackle and knowing how to use it are your boat’s best insurance policy. Two properly sized anchors and enough chain, marked rode, and chafe gear are the minimum for a cruising boat. I’ve rarely had to use more than two anchors, but when I did, it was mighty good to have them.

When choosing a spot in a crowded anchorage, it sometimes works to drop your hook just astern of and a few yards to one side of the boat that will be lying to windward of you. That will allow you full use of your swinging room. Be sure to note whether other boats are using all-chain rodes or a combination of chain and rope, and try to anchor nearer to boats of similar size to yours that are using similar ground tackle. A large, full-keel boat on all chain will swing differently from a small, fin-keeled boat on a combination rode.

Anchoring Solo - This anchor has been cleared and is ready to drop the moment the boat is in position. It's also high enough out of the water to not be swept into the hull.

This anchor has been cleared and is ready to drop the moment the boat is in position. It's also high enough out of the water to not be swept into the hull.

It’s discourteous to anchor too near another boat if there’s room elsewhere, so when given the chance, I always anchor as far from other boats as possible. That way, if te wind shifts or pipes up, I can let out more rode without crowding anyone. A parking-lot mentality pervades some harbors when boats anchor practically atop one another, but you’re less likely to have problems if you stay away from the crowd — even if it means moving to another spot because someone’s crowded you. Pay attention to the weather forecast and perhaps choose a less crowded anchorage if the sky looks threatening.

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