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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    7

    Default Single handed anchoring without windlass - advice for novice

    As an anchoring novice, I am wondering how practical it would be to drop and weigh anchor single-handed without a windlass. The boat is a Westerly Centaur.
    Any advice and practical tips would be very welcome, especially in relation to weighing anchor which I'm guessing will be more difficult.
    I currently have a danforth, but following helpful advice here I'm planning to invest in a new generation anchor soon.
    My chain is currently marked in one metre intervals.
    Assuming I'll need to flake out the required length on deck before dropping, how do I avoid damaging the deck?
    Any advice will be gratefully received.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Home UK Midlands / Boat Croatia
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    19,378

    Default Re: Single handed anchoring without windlass - advice for novice

    Ultimately it all boils down to the weight of anchor, chain and how deep you're anchoring in.

    With a 5kg anchor and 6mm chain you'll be fine. With a 25kg anchor and 10mm chain like I have, you can forget manual anchoring.

    Richard

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    On the Celtic Fringe
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    14,129

    Default Re: Single handed anchoring without windlass - advice for novice

    Hello

    I find it quite simple. Flake out the chain along the deck, I've yet to see a chain damage a deck, to the required scope, decide where you want to anchor, go to that position, let the hook down until you feel the bottom and drift back on the tide with the engine in neutral, letting the chain our hand over hand, once the boat stops wander back to the cockpit and engage reverse to dig the hook in.

    When single handed I add a bit more scope than is usual. It is lifting the hook out of the mud that is a bit more fun and well worth considering a tripping line. To weigh anchor reverse the process, drive up to the tripping line, move to the foredeck and pull, the tripping line is there to help if nessary.
    Last edited by Sandy; 30-06-19 at 21:35.
    Cynical Scottish almost retired engineer.
    Gib'Sea 96 owner

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    SW Scotland
    Posts
    19,364

    Default Re: Single handed anchoring without windlass - advice for novice

    Quote Originally Posted by richard77777 View Post
    As an anchoring novice, I am wondering how practical it would be to drop and weigh anchor single-handed without a windlass. The boat is a Westerly Centaur.
    Any advice and practical tips would be very welcome, especially in relation to weighing anchor which I'm guessing will be more difficult.
    I currently have a danforth, but following helpful advice here I'm planning to invest in a new generation anchor soon.
    My chain is currently marked in one metre intervals.
    Assuming I'll need to flake out the required length on deck before dropping, how do I avoid damaging the deck?
    Any advice will be gratefully received.
    Easy peasy. The first thing to remember is that nothing on a boat happens as fast as you think.

    Anchoring: Easiest to lay out some chain on deck if you can, though in my case (similar sized boat to a Centaur, no windlass) it runs very freely and I often don't bother. Guess how you'll lie - other boats are a good guide - and approach 180o degrees from that (ie if everyone is lying to the wind, approach your spot from dead upwind - at walking speed. If you a re motoring, go into neutral as you approach your spot, then stroll forward. As you pass the spot, lower the anchor until you feel it hit the bottom, then let out twice as much chain again. When the anchor digs in the bows will swing round and you'll end up where you want to be. I call this the "handbrake turn" method. Roll away or lower the sails if you have sailed in, let out more chain if necessary, break out the biccies.

    Leaving under motor. Set throttle just enough to keep you moving slowly ahead. Lash tiller or engage tiller pilot if you have one. Stroll forward in haul in chain progressively as the boat moves forward. Temporarily secure it the chain goes vertical and the momentum of the boat will break the anchor out. Secure chain with anchor on the roller, go back to helm, leave anchorage, sort out chain at your leisure.

    Leaving under sail. Hoist/unroll sail(s). Pull boat forward by anchor chain until it passes over the anchor, at which point let the momentum break it out. Haul anchor up, stroll to cockpit, use steerage way acquire to set course, sheet in sails.

    Plus many variations, but basically if you take your time it's all quite easy.
    "Seamen are always wanting to do things the proper way; and I like to do them my way."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    East coast UK. Mostly. Sometimes the Philippines
    Posts
    9,313

    Default Re: Single handed anchoring without windlass - advice for novice

    It’s quite practical.

    To offer some encouragement, I have a friend who spent last season anchoring and weighing anchor single handed on his Nicholson 55 with a 60lbs CQR, half inch chain and no windlass. Simon has now fitted a windlass to “Chaser”, but he certainly proved it could be done. His technique for weighing anchor was to use a pair of chain hooks and a line to one of the primary windlasses. (He’s fitting a furler now - must be going soft!)

    Now, this is what I used to do:

    Before starting, make sure that the bitter end of the chain is secured. Think of “We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea!”

    First, get the anchor at the bow ready to drop. Secure it with either a turn of the chain round something suitable or a line through the anchor ring that you can slip.

    Next, as you say, range up some chain on deck. It won’t damage the deck because there is no load on it. Don’t get up all the chain you will be using; you just want to drop enough for the anchor to “bite” - say twice the depth. Secure the chain.

    When you are in the right spot, drop the anchor. The chain will run out with much noise. When she has settled back, get some more chain up, secure the inboard end and pay out the rest.

    Weighing the anchor is easy. On your boat you can pull her up to the anchor by hand, or you can creep up to it with the engine in gear and ticking over, or you can do the stylish thing and sail the anchor out by tacking up to it. Whichever way you choose you will need to belay the chain (mind your fingers!) as she comes over the anchor because you will be using the boat’s buoyancy and momentum to break the anchor out.

    If you want to sail the anchor out, this is what I do. Set main and jib, sheet the jib on the tack that you want to leave on, lash the helm, go forward. Start pulling in chain. As she gets to the point where the chain is leading sideways belay the chain and let her tack. Keep the jib aback. Pull in more chain. The same thing will happen - the chain leading sideways will tack her, so again belay the chain. This time she will sail right over the anchor so keep pulling in chain until it goes taut, belay it, she will pull the anchor out and you can pull the rest of the chain in as you sail off. Be warned that she won’t handle normally until you have the anchor back at the roller.
    Last edited by Minn; 30-06-19 at 21:56.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Posts
    692

    Default Re: Single handed anchoring without windlass - advice for novice

    This is nothing you can't handle with a little thought and preparation.
    There is little in practical terms to choose between a Danforth and more modern types but price. In most cases your Danforth will do the job just fine.
    A length of old carpet (I used to use a cheap, thin stair runner) will protect your deck if you flake the chain out.
    The critical thing with anchoring is laying the chain onto the seabed in a line, not just dumping it in a pile on the bottom. This is essential to give your anchor a chance to get a hold.
    Get the boat reasonably stopped, preferably facing into the current so as to be close to zero SOG (a knot or two either way won't matter) and in your chosen spot, go forrard and drop the anchor with a few (maybe 4 or 5) more metres than you know the depth to be.
    Pause.
    The current will draw the boat back and straighten out the few metres of excess chain you gave it. As you see that chain straightening out begin to let the rest of it run but only as the boat pulls it. Maybe half of what's left.

    Now, here's the critical bit. Digging the anchor in. At this point (and doubtless I'll get shot down in flames here) I'd go back to the cockpit and after waiting for the boat to take up the slack apply slow astern. Watching my chosen transits I'd than increase this to half astern and verify the transits. In all but the most congested waters I'd then leave the motor running half astern and go forrard and feel the chain. If it's like a solid bar it's dug in. If it's bouncing or oscillating (this is quite obvious and very dynamic, a dug in anchor = a bar tight chain) it's dragging and we don't have a good hold. In this case stop engine, recover chain and anchor, try again elsewhere.
    If the anchor proves to be dug in then allow the boat to fall back with the current and take the rest of the chain out in a line, then secure the chain with a chain hook and line to a strongpoint (don't rely on the chain holding the boat via the windlass, it requires a stronger attachment than that)
    There seems to be a lot of mysticism attached to anchoring; it's bolleaux! Anchoring is a simple matter of judging the amount of chain required, ensuring it is laid out in a line, not dropped in a heap and critically before full scope is laid out setting the anchor with as much reverse power as you think suitable. Without an engine all you have to set the anchor is the current. OK, no probs, that's all anyone had until auxillaries came along, let the current pull your cable tight to set the anchor and after a few moments lay out the rest of your scope.
    Then watch your transits regularly.
    You'll soon come to trust the anchor - it's something many never do and that restritcts tham greatly. Thre's no mystery about it, just picture how you want your chain and anchor to lie and use/amend the above suggestions (and doubtless many below) to achieve it.
    Anchors are hugely useful and confidence in the use of yours is a vital skill thqt will serve you well.
    Learn it well is my advice.

    Sleeping soundly at anchor? Heh! Another matter!

    The crew will.
    The skipper won't .

    Nor should he.

    Raising anchor?

    If necessary motor slow ahead and recover what chain you can. If the anchor is held fast in Pyefleet clay grab the chain with the chainhook as the slack runs out and motor ahead to free the anchor, then recover manually.

    I say again, there is no witchcraft here, all you're trying to do is drop a hook into the bottom that will hold your chain in place, and later recover it. Simple mechanics. Once you've done this a few times you'll begin to get an appreciation of just how effective an anchor is at holding the bottom and your confidence will increase.

    It's a vital skill, practice it!
    Last edited by Old Bumbulum; 30-06-19 at 22:08.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    East coast UK. Mostly. Sometimes the Philippines
    Posts
    9,313

    Default Re: Single handed anchoring without windlass - advice for novice

    The very best advice: look for a book called “Cruising Hints” by Francis B Cooke. It’s more than a century old but Dick Wynne has helpfully reprinted it. It will tell you all you could ever wish to know.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Portchester, Solent
    Posts
    4,999

    Default Re: Single handed anchoring without windlass - advice for novice

    Quote Originally Posted by JumbleDuck View Post
    ...Guess how you'll lie - other boats are a good guide - and approach 180o degrees from that (ie if everyone is lying to the wind, approach your spot from dead upwind - at walking speed. If you a re motoring, go into neutral as you approach your spot, then stroll forward. As you pass the spot, lower the anchor until you feel it hit the bottom, then let out twice as much chain again. When the anchor digs in the bows will swing round and you'll end up where you want to be. I call this the "handbrake turn" method...
    I really don't think this is suitable advice to a novice, there are reasons most people don't drop anchor like this.
    If you are using all chain then there's a very good chance that you will rake the topsides around the bow with a tight piece of chain.
    If you are using a rope/chain mix then there is a good possibility of wrapping the warp round your keel.
    You may well be putting a shock load onto your bollard/cleat. Not to mention the distinct possibility of losing a finger or two if you are slow at making fast.

    It may look spectacular but it's not good seamanship except in very particular circumstances.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    SPAIN,Galicia
    Posts
    12,522

    Default Re: Single handed anchoring without windlass - advice for novice

    A chain snubber will be helpful,it’s a metal gadget that the chain can be dropped on to whilst haulin up by hand.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    East coast UK. Mostly. Sometimes the Philippines
    Posts
    9,313

    Default Re: Single handed anchoring without windlass - advice for novice

    Quote Originally Posted by Wansworth View Post
    A chain snubber will be helpful,it’s a metal gadget that the chain can be dropped on to whilst haulin up by hand.
    Advanced version is a chain pawl over the roller in the fairlead. I had one and it worked well. Flick the pawl off to drop, on to recover, pull in when the chain is slack and let the pawl take the strain when it is taut.

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