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Adventures in anchoring

Oct 26, 2008
5,020
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
I was solo over the weekend and anchored at Tices Shoal on Saturday night. @Ward H gave me fair warning that winds in the morning would be 20+, which I basically didn't heed because I wanted to visit the beach on the ocean side. Sure enough, Sue was expecting me home early on Sunday and I had to call to tell her that I may not be able to leave until the wind was down, possibly having to wait until evening! That didn't go over very well.

So this was my first experience trying to pull up anchor on a boat that I can't manhandle in a wind on my own. Anchorage depth is only about 6' and I have 4'-9" wing keel. The anchorage is a roadstead and exposed. Wind was 20 to 25 knots, waves are not really an issue because the whole area is so shallow, but in these conditions, they were 1' to 2'. Not uncomfortable to stay there, just a nuisance for the task. Tices Shoal is a huge boat party scene on weekend days. I thought at first that it would be a light crowd due to the wind, but I was wrong. I waited on anchor, doing other tasks, waiting for the wind to abate. But by noon the party was filling in and I was thinking that I would go crazy if I didn't get out of there. With the scope I had out, oblivious moboats were driving uncomfortably close to my bow, even though the rode was clear as day and bar tight!

I have a Lewmar Claw anchor and it holds solid as a rock in the soft sand and mud bottom. This site has excellent holding and one of my biggest concerns was being able to break out. I didn't know how I would be able to hold the boat in position with the chain vertical, or even if I could get to that point. I had nobody to drive the boat! It took me almost an hour to get out, all that time running back and forth from the bow to stern. I had mobs of people all around me, but I guess I'm too shy to ask for help. State police and County Sheriff boats were even circling all around (it takes an army to patrol these waters when the parties are in full swing). I was half hoping somebody would notice and offer to lend a hand, if they could. But no, I guess I was just an exhibit of helplessness!

I have about 25 to 30' of chain and then rope. I have a windlass with a smooth gypsy wheel that is made for rope, but not chain. So I start the engine and put her in forward gear. I provide just enough power to slacken the rode without over-running it. The last thing I want is to get rode wrapped on the keel or even worse, the prop. I tried to use autopilot to bear directly into the wind, but it is useless as the wind and waves just overpower the boat, and I struggled with the boat sailing back and forth. After a long struggle, I gave up on the autopilot and it finally worked better when I used the brake on the wheel in the centered position. I was successful right away getting the rode all the way in and securing it, but I could not gather in the chain without losing it all right back. I would gather 10' of chain in before the boat sailed to one side or other and I could not secure it on the cleat before the force just took it all back. This went on seemingly for ever with me repeatedly going back to the stern to try to better adjust speed and direction, all to no use. Over and over, I kept losing the chain after I fought to recover 10' of it. I was exhausted and almost ready to give up. I finally devised a way to secure the chain when I gained 10' of it. Then it didn't take long and on the second chance at gathering chain I got another 10' and suddenly broke out.

But I was quickly drifting towards shallow water and other boats and I had to run back to the stern before I could get the anchor off the bottom! I ran back to the stern (I'm still pretty agile) and basically powered my way forward, dragging the anchor across the bottom! I'm thinking that it must be dragging upside down and as long as I was moving forward slowly, I may as well keep going until I was in the clear. I had to signal, waving and shouting, to boats that were maneuvering around and I had to weave around a few anchored boats! It was about the least graceful thing I've ever done on a boat, but as long as I was moving slowly forward, I wasn't going to stop until I was in the clear. I finally got to a place where drifting wouldn't be a problem (this is all in water about 6' deep), and I got the anchor secured on deck.

I need a better technique for this situation! :banghead::banghead:
 

Dave Groshong

SBO Staff
Staff member
Jan 25, 2007
1,794
Catalina 22 Seattle
My sure fire technique was to only pull the anchor early early in the morning when it was dead calm.
 
Jan 19, 2010
10,003
Hunter 26 Charleston
Sounds like a autopilot would be helpful. Glad you got it sorted out. I think you could also use a stern rail-mounted "lunch hook" as your first anchor and set your larger one when you plan to stay longer.

My H26 is a little easier to man-handle than your 32 so this may not be as easy for you as it is for me. I mostly use my stern anchor as a lunch hook and set the larger bow anchor (as a second anchor) only if I plan to stay the night. I then reverse the process and retrieve my stern anchor from the cockpit. I can adjust the tiller if I need. Keeps me from having to run back and forth.
 
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Likes: Ward H
Oct 26, 2008
5,020
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
Yes! That would be what I tell Sue (and myself) to make her think I'm leaving early. It was already breezy when I anchored Saturday evening. Rowing back to the boat at about 10 pm after my swim (it was already dicey in the inflatable). Wind was building all night. It was a comfortable sleep, though!
 
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Likes: Ward H
Sep 24, 2018
1,475
O'Day 25 Chicago
Perhaps pulling some road back to the cockpit would allow you to pull it from the helm once the achor is free would allow you to control the boat while pulling the anchor up?
 
Nov 26, 2012
1,531
Hunter 34 Berkeley
I'm not sure there is another technique that you could have used in that situation. The lesson, I guess, is don't be in that situation. You knew ahead of time what you were in for but I guess you did not fully appreciate how dicey it would be. A windlass that can pull the anchor all the way up is really a necessity when you are by yourself. Was it worth it? Would you do it again?
 
Nov 12, 2009
171
J/ 32 NCYC, Western Lake Erie
A question first - given your description, why on earth would anyone want to anchor there?

That being said, you might try a snubber line - a short line attached at the bow with a log chain hook on the end. Once the anchor is off the bottom use the hook to hold it up while you maneuver the boat to a less busy spot. You could also use the hook to snub any anchor chain that you have raised if you need to run back to the cockpit.
 
Oct 26, 2008
5,020
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
I'm not sure there is another technique that you could have used in that situation. The lesson, I guess, is don't be in that situation. You knew ahead of time what you were in for but I guess you did not fully appreciate how dicey it would be. A windlass that can pull the anchor all the way up is really a necessity when you are by yourself. Was it worth it? Would you do it again?
That's a fair comment. When anchoring on Saturday evening, I basically told myself that if I couldn't manage it, I could wait it out. That was my plan, but it is hard to describe what a zoo it is around that party scene. I've seen it up close numerous times but I wasn't quite prepared for being in the middle of it. I like the anchorage because it empties out about an hour before sundown and after sundown the last of the partygoers pretty much leave. Then, it is a beautiful location on an uninhabited beach with just a handful of boats spread out over a large area. It's a different world then ... very beautiful and peaceful. But Sunday morning, they all start to come back. It is a sight to behold, 100's of boats, if not over a thousand packed into an area that stretches maybe 1/2 mile. It's a cacophony of music, old and new, blaring from boats with loudspeakers. Being close to shore, I was beginning to not just be on the fringe but getting to be in the center of it. I think I could have shortened my scope as my biggest concern was multitudes of oblivious boats passing over my anchor chain. I reached a mindset where I felt I had to get out of there no matter how difficult it would be.

I suppose the answer is that I'm not afraid to anchor in wind on occasion, but I would not put myself in this situation again! :facepalm:
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,937
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
  • Autopilot does not generally help (my last boat was a 34-foot cat). You are going too slow and the tension of the rode will keep her pointed up.
  • Try less throttle. Not enough to move the boat forward, only enough to reduce the tension to a manageable level. Then the boat will stay straight and fall off more slowly when the anchor breaks out.
  • A chain pawl might help.Chain Stopper
  • Alternatively, sit down to haul, so that you are better braced and can cleat more quickly. Work out the cleating before you start hauling.
No, it's not a lot of fun in a crowd. Sometimes, when I want to anchor very shallow off a beach, I will lay out ridiculous scope just so that I can haul out before the anchor comes up. If there is a crowd, I'll go elsewhere or anchor way out and kayak over.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,840
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Install a chain stopper. This will hold the chain while you are retrieving it and prevent the chain from free falling to the bottom.

 
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Likes: Ward H

BarryL

.
May 21, 2004
835
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409 Mt. Sinai, NY
Hey,

Were you able to pull the boat forward by hand? I know it's easier with someone driving the boat up to the anchor, but it shouldn't take that much power for you to just pull the boat forward and get the boat over the anchor. I don't have that much anchoring experience, and just about 0 solo anchoring. My 11,000lb C&C didn't have a windlass and I was always able to pull the boat up to the anchor and then pull the anchor up. This was with 20' of chain. If I needed a break I would cleat off the rode (line or anchor) and catch my breath.

As a last resort I would have rode aft to my primary winches.

Barry
 
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Bob S

.
Sep 27, 2007
1,687
Beneteau 393 New Bedford, MA
I had a similar instance with my C30 but I didn't have a windlass. I had 4' rolling waves to boot. I think Stu suggested running a line to a winch attached to a chain hook and winch it in. You probably would need a second line for that much chain but you could do it from the cockpit.
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,958
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Here's a photo of connecting another line to your anchor rode and running it back to your jib sheet winch.


It's just anchor line I ran through the jib fairleads to show how you can use a jib winch as an anchor "winchlass" [term invented by a contributor to the co.com 'site, not mine I'm afraid!!].
 
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Likes: jssailem
Mar 26, 2011
2,937
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
A trip line does not actually reduce the break out force in most cases. Yes, the angle is better, but you lose the lever arm of the shank, prying upwards. It only really helps if the anchor is under something.

Leading the rode to the cockpit could help a good bit, since the chain will not reach the winches. but you might need to pad some parts of the deck. Lacking a windlass, I'd test it.
 
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Likes: jssailem
Feb 14, 2014
5,711
Hunter 430 Waveland, MS
Even though we do not have the same situation. Here is what you do to release you Anchor/Chain, while at the Helm.
[ Autopilot might help to hold rudder position in the procedure]

1) Let your boat point into the wind. That gets maximum tension.
2) Note your compass bearing. [Hopefully no other boats in your path forward]
3) Propeller forward straight on that bearing, at Idle speeds. Normally very slow. No AP on.
4) Do not worry about your Rode vs. Propeller, if you move on straight bearing. Your Rode should not Float.
5) Once you pass over your anchor, it will release it's grab. Now you are free.
6) Stop your propeller and move forward to your windlass. Still moving on same bearing. AP might help now, to maintain gliding course.
7) You can now retrieve your rode easily.;)
8) With enough forward motion, your boat should still be on same course. Your boat should still point into the wind.
9) Once you retrieve enough chain to avoid Anchor Lock, you can motor away from crowd or Retrieve it then.

Jim...

PS: With that anchor , you should be able to drag it to better spot, and not lock.
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,958
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Leading the rode to the cockpit could help a good bit,
Actually, this is hard to do and unnecessary. It is much easier to add a separate line tied with say a rolling hitch, onto the existing rode or the inboard end of the chain. BTDT, hence my photo.
 
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Likes: jssailem