• December 30, 2019 at 8:20 pm#43412
    American McGee

    Due to my poor hygiene and offensive personality I spend a lot of time sailing alone. Doesn’t bother me too much but does create problems when it comes to anchoring.

    I suspect that my previous solo tactic of putting the boat in slow reverse, leaving it there, running up to the bow, dropping the anchor, and then letting out chain until it grabbed the bottom… Probably led to the destruction of the windlass gearbox last season. The shock load involved was maybe less when I was using a Bruce style anchor but now I have a Rocna and that thing grabs and stops the boat like crazy.

    So what to do? I’ve always been told that the boat has to be moving in order to avoid the chain piling up on top of the anchor. Is there another way? What do you do when anchoring solo?

    December 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm#43413

    Short answer: buy yourself one of those garage door remote controls and fit it to your solenoid so you are not reliant on dropping/weighing at the bow. Or run another couple of switches to the cockpit within arms’ reach of the binnacle. That’s definitely the long-term solution for solo anchoring.

    The Rocna bites like a pitbull. I remember almost pulling our windlass out the deck when we first got ours. I was so used to the CQR that required dragging for ages for it to bite. The Rocna took some getting used to because it’s a different technique and the key is to be gentle on the throttle.

    Before you decide to get a remote, in the short term I would suggest the following, assuming you can pay out chain faster than the speed of the boat in astern:

    1. Go to the bow, drop the anchor and 1.5x times the depth of chain. A little bit of chain sitting on top of the anchor isn’t going to hurt (but 30m will). Do it slowly enough and the tide will lay it out for you (see below), in which case you can lay more out if necessary

    2. Nip back to the cockpit and put the boat in astern, low revs

    3. That extra chain should allow you time to go forward and put out your desired length of chain

    4. Return to the cockpit and put the boat in neutral

    5. Put on your snubber

    Only at this point should you put the boat into astern to dig the anchor in. Not using a snubber will do damage to the windlass. I know you know the rest, transits etc, but I would avoid slamming the boat into hard astern at all. Gentle revs, increasing slowly, and only ever with the snubber on.

    Because the Rocna bites almost immediately I’ve found we rarely have to go hard astern for it to dig in.  Any further motion of the boat, be it yawing in the wind or moving backwards with the current, does the job nicely. Occasionally I’ve not even bothered to go into astern after putting the snubber on, but that’s only in familiar anchorages where I know the holding is good. If you’re not sure, providing you have the snubber on you can put the boat into hard astern without damaging the windlass.

    The one problem with the Rocna, or most anchors for that matter, is the boat going too quickly in astern before it’s had time to bite, causing it to either bounce along the seabed or suddenly bite and rip your windlass off. If the above technique doesn’t work because the boat moves too quickly, use the wind or tide instead of going into astern in order to pay out the desired length of chain. Doesn’t matter if the anchor hasn’t bitten, lay out your 30m, put the snubber on and then put the boat in astern to tighten it up.

    Once you’ve got this technique licked you’ll be able to invite other people on board. They’ll see past the smelly, offensive dork that you are and instead be impressed with your consummate boat handling skills. Champagne all round.

    Peace and fair winds!

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