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Old 09-25-2018, 07:25 PM   #1
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How to anchor solo?

Hoping to get some advice from those experienced anchoring by themselves. I have controls inside at the helm and also foot buttons and washdown on the bow. Setting the anchor from inside at the helm is straight forward. I guess I prefer being inside when setting because I can control the boat and I can see the rode well enough at the bow. But what is the secret to retrieving the anchor by yourself? I have gone through many different scenarios about where I should be during the retrieval process, but I am always left with a not ideal situation.

I need to 1. Keep the boat positioned and moving forward against the wind, 2. pull in the rode, and 3. Wash off the chain and anchor as it's coming in.

Can't operate from inside because I want to wash the rode and anchor. Being at the bow means I don't have engine directional control over the boat.

The best scenario I have come up with, and it works OK, is that I am at the bow and I pull the boat up to the anchor, by hand, as the windlass is retrieving the slack rode. This works OK but harder to do in gusty winds, and when I get to my 50' of chain it becomes a bit awkward.

How do you all do it solo?
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Old 09-25-2018, 07:36 PM   #2
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Operate from inside and wash the fore deck after you get home.
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Old 09-25-2018, 07:40 PM   #3
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Operate from inside and wash the fore deck after you get home.
See I don't really want to do that because I don't want my rode and chain locker all full of crud and smelling feet away from where I sleep. I want to wash all that stuff off as the windlass is retrieving the rode.

I was thinking there has to be some way to "auto wash" the rode. I haven't seen anything out there, but it would be cool if one could position the raw water spray onto the bow roller so it cleans the rode on the way up. Maybe I'll rig something up. Then operating from inside would be a lot more appealing.
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Old 09-25-2018, 07:48 PM   #4
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I always retrieved my anchor from the flying bridge. I used a combination rode of about a boat length of chain and the rest rope. The trick was that I used stainless chain which came up clean. The galvanized anchor would bring up plenty of mud but it hung on the pulpit and I didnít care.

Since you probably donít want to switch to stainless chain, how about figuring out a remote system for washing the chain as it comes aboard?

Before I hit the post button I saw you have already given some thought to a remote wash system. I donít think there is a commercially made one but it sounds like a fun do it yourself project.
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Old 09-25-2018, 07:58 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. I don't have a lot of experience anchoring. Am I putting too much through into washing the chain? The few times I have anchored, it seems the chain is relatively clean... it's the anchor that is always caked? Maybe I shouldn't be worry too much about washing the chain (although an auto-wash deal would still be cool imo!), and in that case operating from inside would be best?

But the other issue is that if I NEED to be up there if something goes wrong. For example, the rope where it connects to the chain has swollen a bit and sometimes has a hard time going through the windlass. I haven't had to yet, but I may need to manually turn that part through with the handle on the windlass. Or if the rode is knotted, or I bring up a tire or something...

All things I'd have to deal with I guess!
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Old 09-25-2018, 08:14 PM   #6
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Your instinct to keep mud out of the chain locker is probably a good one.

If you have to manually retrieve the anchor by yourself, get the boat moving slowly forward, shift to neutral, run forward and start pulling. Belay the rode as you drift over the anchor and hope the boatís momentum breaks it free. I only had to do that once in more than twenty years of anchoring Possum by myself.
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Old 09-25-2018, 08:16 PM   #7
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I anchor solo probably 95+% of the time. I would tell you to practice and start with larger open anchorages to develop your technique and hone your skills. Here are some things that can help:

Start by anchoring away from current and protected from wind.

Learn how many seconds it takes to lift all the cleaned chain on to the boat.

After cleaning the chain above the water, move the boat forward as you raise the clean chain. If you can raise the chain from the bow, move the boat quite a distance forward, then clean and raise the the chain until the chain draws tight again. Move the boat forward and repeat the process. When you break the anchor out of the bottom, remember controlling the boat is the most important thing. If you need to move the boat, go backwards to keep the anchor ahead of you.

Don't be in a hurry and plan you anchor recovery before starting.

Sometimes conditions deteriorate and pulling the anchor may be too risky by yourself. Accept that sometimes it makes more sense to stay put and wait for more favorable conditions.

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Old 09-25-2018, 08:20 PM   #8
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I suppose the type of bottom you typically drop your anchor onto/into makes a difference, but we don't wash our chain normally when bringing it up.
We tend to anchor in mud along the British Columbia shores and on occasion mud comes up but a couple of ups and downs on the chain will wash everything off. In the event of a heavily caked anchor I drop it just below the waterline and move the boat around for a minute or so.
Occasionally the anchor (Rocna) comes up backwards so I have to go out and twist it around, which is the major benefit of having a swivel between the anchor and chain.
At no time have I ever noticed any untoward odors coming from the chain locker and I sleep with my head right next to the access door.
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Old 09-25-2018, 08:30 PM   #9
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It isnít all that hard in settled weather with little current. I have an all chain rode so my situation is a little different.

With no significant wind and current this is what I do.

- I start the engine and center the helm. I put it in gear just enough to get the boat moving just a little. Only enough to get past the inertia.
- Go to the bow and use the windless to take up the catenary.
- Use the wash down hose to hose down the chain as I do this.
- The weight of the chain causes the boat to continue to move forward.
- As more catenary is created, use the windlass to take up the slack.
- keep repeating until the catenary isnít enough to keep the boat moving.
- go back to the helm and again put the boat in gear and get it moving towards the anchor.
- go back to the bow and again take up slack in the chain.

Eventually, the anchor breaks free or you have to drive over the anchor to get it break free. Once the anchor breaks free then it depends on your location. Often you can take all the time you need to get the anchor up, secured, and washed. If there is enough wind or current that is moving you towards other boats or the shore, then you leave the anchor hanging and start to steer the boat away from the anchorage at a slow enough speed to get you steerage way. Then when you are clear of obstructions, then use the autopilot to hold your course at idle and go forward to finish raising the anchor and securing it.

If there is a little wind or current, then it takes a lot more back and forth between the helm and the bow as it takes some power to keep the boat moving towards the anchor.

Too much wind or current, and then you just have to deal with bringing up a muddy rode.

There are washdown systems that have a fixed nozzle right at the front of the roller to wash the chain as it comes up. You might even be able to rig something where you can fix the hose so it is spraying on the rode while you are at the helm.
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Old 09-25-2018, 09:00 PM   #10
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Install foot switches near the windlass. Hold your wash down hose as you bring up the chain and anchor.
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Old 09-25-2018, 09:26 PM   #11
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I anchor solo most of the time, but don't anchor in crowded spots. Rarely are there other boats. Motor controls are at the lower wheel and foc'sle along with a foot switch. I have a free spooling winch, so go to the foc'sle to release the pawl and clutch and give the anchor a nudge. When I'm at about 4:1 I engage the clutch and go inside to back down and set the anchor. If I'm in a swell or strong winds/current I go to 7:1. Later I add a bridle. Weighing anchor I do from inside after removing the bridle. I have a salt water system, mainly for washdowns and supplying water to the watermaker. I have a couple spray nozzles and valve to spray the chain as it comes up. If there's much mud, I have to wash the anchor with a hose.
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Old 09-25-2018, 09:45 PM   #12
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Itís pretty rare that I donít have time to just pull the anchor at the bow and wash as you go. Bump in forward, walk up and then pull it up. While you donít want to pull the boats weight with the windlass, you can pull the catenary up with little effort and then wait as the boat drifts forward as it establishes a new catenary, then repeat. I donít like being in a hurry, so I usually wonít run back to bump in gear again. If you take your time, you will be aware of your surroundings. If you are aware of your surroundings, you will work efficiently and not cause unnecessary problems for yourself. Working single handed is mostly about being aware and working calmly. Plus it has the added bonus of pissing off the crews with multiple people, lots of ordered, misunderstood commands and general chaos disguised as some kind of important maneuver. Reducing the nervous energy is the key.

When the anchor is straight up and down, stop. Look around. This is the last moment before the boat is drifting. Pretty rare day that you wonít at this point take stock and know definitively that there is little to hurry for. If itís the odd day when wind, current or that runt late arriving sailboat that anchored rudely within a boat length, then break the anchor free, pull it up just enough to get it away from the bottom and again, calmly walk to the helm and idle to a safe place. Then calmly pull it up the last few feet and stow. Again, no worries, no hurry.

Going slow, I guarantee, will not look slow to anyone but you. In fact, after a couple tries, you will realize that going slow by yourself is actually pretty darn effective.
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Old 09-25-2018, 10:09 PM   #13
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Jhance, I would suggest you grab some 2 part epoxy primer and paint your anchor, and even your chain. The smooth surface helps hugely for the mud to slide off easily. I did that with my Danforth and it was about 70-80% effective. Like the comment above about using stainless chain.

Also let your anchor dangle just below the surface while driving ahead to wash it off naturally.
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Old 09-25-2018, 10:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhance View Post
Hoping to get some advice from those experienced anchoring by themselves. I have controls inside at the helm and also foot buttons and washdown on the bow. Setting the anchor from inside at the helm is straight forward. I guess I prefer being inside when setting because I can control the boat and I can see the rode well enough at the bow. But what is the secret to retrieving the anchor by yourself? I have gone through many different scenarios about where I should be during the retrieval process, but I am always left with a not ideal situation.

I need to 1. Keep the boat positioned and moving forward against the wind, 2. pull in the rode, and 3. Wash off the chain and anchor as it's coming in.

Can't operate from inside because I want to wash the rode and anchor. Being at the bow means I don't have engine directional control over the boat.

The best scenario I have come up with, and it works OK, is that I am at the bow and I pull the boat up to the anchor, by hand, as the windlass is retrieving the slack rode. This works OK but harder to do in gusty winds, and when I get to my 50' of chain it becomes a bit awkward.

How do you all do it solo?
All of this activity on a 31 foot boat? Asked as we have a similar layed out and weight wise, similar configuration in our 28 foot Marben,(14,000 lbs Est)
We have a button operated winch on the foredeck. We have 25 feet of chain and the rest is line.
So- single handed anchoring includes a sworn to pledge to the little lady that I will not access the bow deck using the narrow side decks. The process by the numbers is to first release the overboard ladder and drop the knotted line. this is accomplished in one swift motion about 15 seconds. Then I open the forward trunk cabin hatch, latch my folding three step ladder on the the bow bunk 'V' area and clime out onto the deck. untie my bungee cord, holding the shank to the roller and drop the anchor over. In the process to retrieve, access the bow is made, with the engine running in both anchor and retrieve mode, I hand pull the slack and then with two wraps bring the anchor up to the chain using the deck button, where I hand pull the chain and anchor up and into tie down position.
I'say I employ more manual movements than you do, but less fuss.
Were there two folks or more on board, then the side deck is used wearing a float coat. Now the time is lessen to that if release and drop of the anchor and on the retrieve, the slack removed and the winch engaged for the line portion.

What may present a more time consumption is here in Alaska the normally applied scope is 3 to 1.(Maybe a tad more given the individual location) so line retrieval will be less.

(I see I didn't include your washdown segment. Rare toi have to include wash down in this part of the world, unless you anchor in "Stinky Mud" locations and then only the fluks are involved.)
Too, unless there is somebody else aboard who can handle the wheel, it is pot luck. Do what you can for the situation in hand.)

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Old 09-25-2018, 11:01 PM   #15
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What if you installed a showerhead in your anchor locker, and improved the drain ? Hall the muddy chain into the locker....the turn on the shower head and wash it in the locker ??
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Old 09-25-2018, 11:18 PM   #16
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What if you installed a showerhead in your anchor locker, and improved the drain ? Hall the muddy chain into the locker....the turn on the shower head and wash it in the locker ??
Problem Solved!
Remote switches or not,ideally,someone should be at the windlass during retrieve to handle whatever may arise. If that is not possible,just do the best you can in the prevailing circumstances. You might be fine at the windlass spraying away leaving the helm. Other times it could be unsafe and you are better off cleaning the mess later than sorting out some other issue like a collision, a grounding,a "gratuitous advice" session from another boat(though I`d not worry too much about that one), etc.
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Old 09-25-2018, 11:47 PM   #17
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I understand your not wanting a muddy chain locker.

I pull up the anchor all alone most times. Even with crew, I get impatient in the morning and the crew wakes up when they hear the engine start.

Ok, here's how. Once you are all ready and scoped out the situation, get the boat moving towards where you think the anchor is, at idle forward.
Put it back in neutral.
go to bow, start windlass to start pulling in chain, clean as needed.

Rinse and repeat until done and the anchor is off the pulpit, if muddy, I'll leave it in a few feet of water as I get underway, don't go too fast.

Move on out.
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Old 09-26-2018, 12:21 AM   #18
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@dhays nailed it.

A buddy plumbed a washdown system at the bow pulpit that works very well. There's a stub of pipe with a ball valve on the deck; a short length of hose attaches by a quick-connect fitting. A tee off of this line leads to two bespoke spray nozzles mounted on the underside of the anchor roller. He made the nozzles out of small copper tubing with one end flattened in a vice. He can wash the rode very effectively as it comes up. With the anchor hanging at the surface, he goes back and sets the autopilot and puts her at dead slow, goes back forward and uses the hose to clean the anchor.

Here in the northwest we often get an anchor chain covered with eel grass, kelp, and sea lettuce. The anchor often surfaces with several pounds of sticky mud adhering tightly to it; going ahead slow with the anchor just below the surface works OK with adhered sand, but this mud needs more aggressive cleaning.

He ran PEX tubing forward for this project and it works beautifully. I'm going to emulate this on Kingfisher.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:16 AM   #19
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I operate the anchor from the foredeck. Best way to remove vegetation by hand and wash away mud and salt with fresh water.
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Old 09-26-2018, 07:18 AM   #20
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I generally haul anchor from the helm. To minimize mud on my all chain rode I haul up the chain gradually stopping when I see some mud and let the muddy chain sit in the water for a couple of minutes before hauling a bit more chain in. Even 2-3 minutes off the bottom but still in the water (particularly if there is current) removes a lot of mud. It takes a while to raise anchor this way, but I can just sip my coffee since I am at the helm.
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