.. Or Tip #1 in Surviving a Sailing Relationship.
We have all witnessed raised voices from other yachts when they have been dropping or retrieving their anchor, maybe even observed a full-on argument. On one occasion we saw a “discussion” that got so heated, the woman on the bow jumped off and swam to shore, shouting a few expletives as to what the skipper could do with his anchor.
Entering and leaving an anchorage is one of the most stressful parts of sailing, especially if it is a “new to you” anchorage. You can start to feel anxious…so this is the time you will need a good solid plan, clear instructions and thorough preparation… BEFORE… going into action. After all, you still want to be on good terms with your shipmates, especially if you sail with your partner.
At Seahorse Sailing School we teach the use of hand signals when dropping or raising the anchor… friendly hand signals of course… there should be no need for any verbal communication at all once the anchor deployer is at the bow…none!
Our Procedure for Dropping the Anchor:
- Check the anchor’s safety line is untied.
- Check that the electric windlass is switched on and operational
- Drive by your preferred location to check there is sand to anchor in and not coral
- A slow head to wind approach slowing to a stop over your preferred location.
- The helm noting the depth.
- The anchor starts to drop and the yacht starts to go backwards aided by the wind.
- The helm indicates the depth to the crew on the bow, one finger equals one foot.
- The crew drops the appropriate length of chain and indicates to the helm when this is done (bow roller to seabed X 5 for a daytime stop and x7 for an overnight stop)
- Test the anchor is holding and if it is put on your snubber
- Have a beer and a chat, look at the sunset.
Our Procedure for Raising the Anchor:
- Start the engine
- Switch on the fridge to get the beers cold for the end of the day’s sailing
- Find the anchor trip switch
- Remove the snubber
- Move the boat slowly forward to get the chain almost vertical before raising – do not pull the boat forward using the windlass.
- The hand signals we use at the bow: A straight arm pointing in the direction of the chain, which means I would like you to go this way. A clenched fist, which means put the engine in neutral and watch me and where I am looking. A thumbs up, meaning I can see that the anchor is off the bottom.
- When the anchor is fully up, wait for the bow crew to have secured the anchor, tidied up and safely returned to the cockpit before getting underway.
- Sail to your next destination, repeat dropping the anchor
- Have a chat and a beer, look at the sunset.
This approach worked particularly well during a recent course when we had to reset the anchor during a very windy night… we wouldn’t have been able to hear each other speak…I also believe this approach could improve, or even save, many sailing relationships! Be nice when you anchor, don’t be an… idiot!
By Mike Dye and Lesley Hayes, SeaHorse Sailing School, Grenada