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Old 06-06-2017, 12:57 PM   #1
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Anchoring Single-handed

This may have been covered before, so if so, and you have the link, let me know.
I plan to cruise single handed in the Northwest this summer (wife still working). I dock, lock through and pick up mooring bouys just fine. But I am interested in any advice on anchoring single-handed. My boat is a 36' trawler with twin diesels. I have an upper and a lower helm station. I carry a plow anchor on all chain. The windlass controls are on the bow and I do not have a remote for the windlass. Most of my anchoring will be in 35' or less and while wind might be a factor some times, current should not be an issue. I did some single handing way in the past but am way rusty. I looked for an article or a you-tube without success. If you know of any that will help please let me know. Your thoughts and suggestions will be much appreciated.
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Old 06-06-2017, 01:01 PM   #2
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The windlass controls are on the bow and I do not have a remote for the windlass.

What would it take to extend remote controls to your helm? The control circuit doesn't need much in the way of heavy wire...

I have to go forward to unlock out anchor and to kick it over the roller, but after that I usually go back to the helm where I can control both anchor and engines.

-Chris
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Old 06-06-2017, 01:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poach View Post
This may have been covered before, so if so, and you have the link, let me know.
I plan to cruise single handed in the Northwest this summer (wife still working). I dock, lock through and pick up mooring bouys just fine. But I am interested in any advice on anchoring single-handed. My boat is a 36' trawler with twin diesels. I have an upper and a lower helm station. I carry a plow anchor on all chain. The windlass controls are on the bow and I do not have a remote for the windlass. Most of my anchoring will be in 35' or less and while wind might be a factor some times, current should not be an issue. I did some single handing way in the past but am way rusty. I looked for an article or a you-tube without success. If you know of any that will help please let me know. Your thoughts and suggestions will be much appreciated.
I have the same setup as you *except* I also have a toggle switch at the upper and lower helm stations. This gives complete flexibility to how/when/where I use the windlass. This makes it very easy to single hand anchoring. These additional switches are VERY easy to install. All switches including the switches at the windlass are in parallel and only carry the current required to operate the windlass relays. So no special switches and no thick wiring required. If you have any intention of single handed anchoring I strongly suggest looking into getting additional switches installed.

Ken
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Old 06-06-2017, 01:16 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
What would it take to extend remote controls to your helm? The control circuit doesn't need much in the way of heavy wire...

I have to go forward to unlock out anchor and to kick it over the roller, but after that I usually go back to the helm where I can control both anchor and engines.

-Chris
Chris
Good thoughts if I go that route, and I don't intend to be impolite, but I'd like to stick with what I asked rather than be in another hijacked discussion. Besides, what's the plan if your remote fails?
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Old 06-06-2017, 01:29 PM   #5
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Poach,

It isn't that hard but takes a couple times to get comfortable with it. While I have a windlass control at the helm, I hardly ever use it. When I anchor single handed, this is what I do.
-Pick the spot as you would normally and get the anchor free to lower.
- drive upwind/current to where you want to drop the anchor and end up at a dead stop. Then I just kick in a little reverse power for a moment to get the boat thinking about starting its drift back. If there isn't enough wind/current to move you back, then give yourself enough sternway and then back into neutral.
- quickly go to the bow and start lowering the anchor as the boat is drifting back.
- deploy the chain slowly enough that you aren't just creating a pile on the bottom.
- The boat likely will slew around a bit if the wind causes the bow to fall off. Not usually a problem for me.
- When you have the scope you want to use for setting the anchor (I usually use 3-1) then use your snubber or chain stopper to secure the chain and go back to the helm. Then set your anchor as you would normally.

Occasionally, I have had to go back to the helm to change the angle of the boat etc... but not usually.

Raising the anchor is actually a bit more difficult. Normally, in the PNW during the summer in a decent anchorage, there isn't a lot of wind. In that case you can simply use your windless to take up the catenary in the chain and let its weight start to move the boat forward. You don't want to pull the boat with the windless but I have felt comfortable with using it to take up the catenary. If there is too much wind/current to do that, then you have to put the boat in gear at idle (set the autopilot to hold a heading) and go forward to take in some chain, then back to the helm to put it in idle, back to the bow, back to the helm etc... This works but is a bit of a pain. Make sure you are wearing your PFD.

Having a remote for the windlass or a control at the helm is nice, but unnecessary. You never want to set the anchor with the windlass anyway which means you will need to be at the bow to set a stopper or snubber anyway.
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Old 06-06-2017, 01:31 PM   #6
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In a worst case scenario (close to shore with an onshore wind) here's how I think I'd do it.

Idle upwind, then while in neutral go forward and pull some anchor chain while there is slack in the rode. Repeat this until nearly over the anchor, then use the windlass for the last bit to pull yourself directly over the anchor. Go back to the helm and idle forward until the anchor levers itself out of the bottom. While in neutral, go forward again and raise the anchor up 10 feet or so. Go back to the helm and slowly idle out to deeper water further from shore where you should be able to pull the rest of the rode in while in neutral.
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Old 06-06-2017, 01:52 PM   #7
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I single handed a twin engine catamaran sailboat and anchored at least 100 times by myself. This is what worked for me:

You need anchor controls at the bow and at the helm. I had to add the helm control and it was easy with a Lewmar rocker switch and three conductor cable to set that up.

So to anchor I motor to the spot and with the engines in neutral coasting forward a bit I go up to the bow and unlock the anchor and kick it overboard. I drop enough rode for the anchor to hit bottom and then another dozen feet or so and wait for the boat to drift back against the anchor. Then as the boat drifts back pay out more anchor rode until enough is out. Then go back to the helm and back down to set.

Let's not make this an anchor debate, but after switching from a Delta to a Rocna this drill was much easier- the Rocna set first time, every time.

Then go foward again and put your snubber in place. Then make sure that you turn off the windlass breaker so the anchor can't accidently be retrieved (been there, done that and it wasn't pretty).

So anchoring is relatively easy single handed, retrieving it is a bit tougher:

I first motor a dozen feet or so forward, then go forward, and disconnect the snubber. Then back at the helm I motor forward and using the helm anchor control, bring the rode in. In my case I would have to go forward every 50' or so and knock down the chain pile in the locker then back to the helm and retrieve some more rode. It takes 3-4 trips back and forth with a lot of rode out.

When I got as much rode as possible aboard I would then ease the boat forward with the engines to break the anchor out. Then you have to be quick because you are drifting free. From the helm bring in the rode until the anchor is right up below the bow roller, then go forward and bring up the anchor until it is in its tie down position and secure it. Then back to the helm and motor away.

In those hundred or so single handed anchorings, I only had one real problem when the anchor rode jammed in the windlass after the anchor broke free. I grabbed a heavy screw driver and rushed forward to quickly free the jam. An adjacent boat saw the whole thing and after it was cleared and I was was motoring away, called to congratulate me on the quick work.

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Old 06-06-2017, 01:59 PM   #8
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I've anchored hundreds of times solo and have no windlass. When retrieving, I do as Dave does. Motor up maybe 20' and go fwd. Pull up slack and cleat it. Find out direction of rode relative to boat. Go back to helm and motor in that direction. Back up forward and pull more slack. Repeat as necessary til anchor is right under bow, or til I can pull it manually. If I can't pull it, back to the helm and reverse and let boat pull it up.
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Old 06-06-2017, 02:18 PM   #9
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So to anchor I motor to the spot and with the engines in neutral coasting forward a bit I go up to the bow and unlock the anchor and kick it overboard. I drop enough rode for the anchor to hit bottom and then another dozen feet or so and wait for the boat to drift back against the anchor. Then as the boat drifts back pay out more anchor rode until enough is out. Then go back to the helm and back down to set.

Then go foward again and put your snubber in place. Then make sure that you turn off the windlass breaker so the anchor can't accidently be retrieved (been there, done that and it wasn't pretty).
Two points. First, the OP doesn't have a windlass control at his helm nor a remote and he asked how to anchor with his current setup. Most folks so far have told him he needs additional controls or a remote. That is like someone asking how to dock a single with no thrusters that they need to either buy a boat with twins or add thrusters to their boat.

Secondly, while many, many people do it, I don't think setting an anchor with the windlass is a good idea. I would suggest putting your snubber in place before setting the anchor.

FWIW, I use an anchor bridle, but I set the anchor with a snubber. Then after the anchor is set, I rig up the bridle and give myself an additional 25 feet of rode.
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Old 06-06-2017, 03:00 PM   #10
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When single handed I did it like described by dhays post #5. Worked pretty well.
We don't have a remote control for the windlass, never thought we would miss it ...
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Old 06-06-2017, 03:34 PM   #11
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A helm mounted rocker switch for the windless is not like adding a bow thruster. If you mount the switch and pull the wire yourself it should cost less than $100.

It makes retrieving the anchor so much easier. If you didn't have one, in any kind of wind, you would motoring a bit then going forward and picking up rode then back and forth, bank and forth. If you don't have a chain pile up problem you can pick up the entire rode from the helm, motor forward to break out the anchor then pull it up close to the bow roller before going forward for the final anchor lock down.

A snubber is for dampening shock loads from the chain and transferring them to a sampson post or cleat so as not to stress the windless. But the windless is perfectly capable of taking the backing down loads before setting the snubber.

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Old 06-06-2017, 03:48 PM   #12
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Chris
Good thoughts if I go that route, and I don't intend to be impolite, but I'd like to stick with what I asked rather than be in another hijacked discussion. Besides, what's the plan if your remote fails?

Yep, not to worry, just thought might not be all that expensive, etc. (Don't actually know.)

Certainly there are potential hiccups with remotes... and I have to go back forward anyway to prepare for the final set...

-Chris
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Old 06-06-2017, 04:41 PM   #13
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Wireless remotes are inexpensive
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:10 PM   #14
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I anchor several times per month solo. I always use my lower helm switch and my wireless remote on my self-launching ground tackle. I don't have controls at the bow or flybridge helm unless my Lewmar wireless remote is in my pocket. I'll never be without a wireless remote again...but if it failed, I still have the lower helm switch.

To me, it's the easiest way to single-hand the anchor.
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:25 PM   #15
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A snubber is for dampening shock loads from the chain and transferring them to a sampson post or cleat so as not to stress the windless. But the windless is perfectly capable of taking the backing down loads before setting the snubber.
I may be overly paranoid about stressing the windlass. I also secure the anchor when it is raised to not leave the tension on the windlass. For me, since putting a chain hook on the chain and then setting the anchor is pretty easy, I don't mind doing it. I've never had a windlass fail so I am likely concerned about nothing.

OTOH, maybe there is a reason I've never had a windlass fail?
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:29 PM   #16
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Not all windlass systems have built in relays to allow for inexpensive remote switches.

The back and forth between flybridge and bow in heavy wind / current / thunderstorm is not always pleasant. You have to be nimble and capable of moving between those two stations within ten to fifteen seconds. In situations where you might have two anchors one rope rode and one chain and one ******* who parked over your anchor is another level of complexity.
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:02 PM   #17
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Everybody seems to be hooked on the push button lifestyle. Admittedly pushing a button in the wheelhouse may be safer than what I do out on the bow but I'm vastly more connected to what I'm doing. You can't see what's going on w your rode from the wheelhouse.
Actually it's another plus for the nylon rode. The chain may not move enough to give you any feedback as to what the anchor is doing down there.
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Old 06-06-2017, 10:50 PM   #18
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Suggestion. On a calm day, well away from shore, at a typical anchoring depth, pull your anchor up by hand. Windlasses jam, gypsy's break, relay's burn out, circuit breakers trip, wires corrode, batteries go flat, motors burn out, and pulling up by hand a long line of 3/8 chain and a 35lb CQR is time consuming and tiring.

Once the anchor breaks free the boat is free and you may not be because you're trying to hang onto the anchor with 50' of 3/8 out straight. The drill might help you implement some of the excellent techniques mentioned.

Then do it all over again using your windlass manually if it has that capability. I've switched to nylon with 30' of chain in case anything fails and I have to pull by hand.
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Old 06-06-2017, 11:34 PM   #19
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Never use my helm switch but use the pedals at the windlass. Need to release the windlass lock and tip the anchor over anyway, and I rinse the chain with fresh water when recovering. Also, installing and recovering the snubber requires one to be on deck.



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Old 06-06-2017, 11:41 PM   #20
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With a couple relays, you can wire in either a wired or wireless remote.
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