August 29, 2013

Ten rules for anchoring

WHEN YOU OWN a cruising boat, anchoring becomes one of your favorite forms of entertainment. The art of anchoring is science combined with mystery. You can’t see what’s going on down there, unless you’re in the gin-clear waters of the tropics. Even then, it’s unusual, and even the professionals admit that after dropping the anchor they wait in suspense to see what the result will be.

And to tell the truth, just about every boat afloat will drag its anchor at some time or another, for some reason or another, and often it’s not because of any ignorance or mistake on behalf of the skipper or crew.

When Thomas Fleming Day was editor of The Rudder a century ago, he wrote a lot about the art of anchoring.  In fact he drew up 10 rules for anchoring, which newcomers to the boating world will find useful to this day. Here they are, together with Mr Day’s warning that “these rules are not fixed laws, and as such do not bind you to do anything against what judgment, experience, or a present difficulty may suggest.”

1. Never drop an anchor until you have first examined it.

2. Never drop an anchor stock-down.

3. Never drop an anchor from the bows while the boat has headway, except for the purpose of preventing her going ashore or into something.

4. With the wind and sea ahead, give any amount of scope.

5. In a tide-way, give just sufficient [scope] to hold, no more, unless the conditions of wind and sea oblige a long lead; then watch your hawse when she shifts tides.

6. When getting under way in a strong wind, do not shorten [the rode] too much before everything is ready aloft; same when surrounded by other vessels.

7. Be sure when you make fast, that you make fast. Always weather-bit your hawser before turning in. Don’t make fast over an old set of turns when you shorten hawse. Always keep your riding-bits clear of everything but the hawser.

8. Always examine the gear before leaving the yacht or turning in. If she is riding hard, feel if she is fast or dragging.

9. Keep your hawsers or chains leading free of the bowsprit rigging. Look out for chafing and freshen the hawse frequently.

10. Never anchor on rocky bottom without a trip line.

Today’s Thought
Remember this: that the first and all-important thing in anchoring is SCOPE.
Thomas Fleming Day, On Yachts and Yacht Handling

Overheard at the yacht club bar:
“How did the divorce go?”
“We had a 50-50 property split. She got the house and I got the mortgage.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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