Copy Write 10/27/2000 © Updated 2/13/2006
Danforth anchors are my weapon of choice here on the Gulf Coast.
Currently there are two # 8 anchors.
Normal bottom conditions are sand and mud depending upon location. Sea grass flats are avoided if possible for two reasons, environmental and anchor fouling concerns.
Danforth anchors hold excellent in sand, good in mud and questionable in grass. If the anchor breaks free it may foul before resetting in a grassy bottom. So far with the mud bottom of North Perdido Bay fouling has not been a major problem. On occasion there have been problems setting the first time, usually as a result of the anchor fouling on the chain leader on the way down. Occasionally there may be issues if the anchor snags on a tree limb or branch in the mud.
Every time problems occurred setting in sand it has been due to operator error, not enough scope to allow the anchor to set is my usual folly.
At this time there is a six-foot chain leader attached to 5/8ths nylon line. So far for current sailing area this has proved more than enough to keep the anchor holding.
There are three lines set up to handle the anchors. Due to thin water along the Gulf Coast I see no need to keep 100' or better on the bow.
#1. Anchor has 6' chain and 50' of 5/8ths line. Usually this is more than enough for this bow anchor. I rarely need to deploy all 50' under normal circumstances.
#2. Anchor has 6' chain and 25' of 5/8ths line. Normally this is a stern anchor.
100' of line is stored in the cabin for situations where deeper water is expected. If I ever start open Gulf sailing 200' of line and 22' of chain will be added.
Due to the limited room aboard and the shear weight of an all chain rode, it is unlikely one would ever be included as part of my regular anchor tackle. Rather the 22' of chain will be added when needed.
Chafing Gear: sounds simple enough at first glance, just something to keep the rode from chaffing against what ever is holding it to the boat. Upon closer inspection other factors come into play that need consideration. Nylon rode is good because it is elastic; the rubber band effect provides shock loading. Just like a rubber band this stretching and recovery generates heat. Under extreme conditions the chafing gear along with the nylon rode can generate enough heat to melt the rode. So whatever chafing gear used, allow for potential heat disbursement. Avoid chafing gear that fits tightly to the rode.
Boat Fenders: The more I learn about alternative uses the better they are to have aboard.
More will be covered later on this.
Killets: are weights that can either slide down an anchor rode or attach to the rode.
They serve two purposes.
1. To help keep the pull of the anchor horizontal
2. In storm conditions the extra sag of the rode provides cushion against shock load.
Three mushroom anchors are stored aboard for use as Killets should the need arise.
Marker Buoys: Years ago I found two small orange plastic buoys; they are small, square with a long length of line attached. On occasion I tie one on the anchor to mark the spot where the anchor lies. Comes in handy in a crowd, the downside is some idiot will pull up on the buoy to see what is attached kids are notorious for this.
Trip Line: is one of those "round to it" things. I want to change out the line on the marker buoys to something more substantial. In the event of a fouled anchor the trip line can be used to raise the shank. Hopefully freeing the anchor, ¼" line should do.
Non-storm reasonable conditions
: Pretty simple operation not much to cover. Estimate how much rode to lay out and motor/sail ahead enough to drop anchor and end up where you want to be. The Eclipse has a swing fin keel. Keel depth affects sailing at anchor. Keel up or almost up you can anchor close to shore, makes it easy for boarding. Close to shore land features such as trees and stuff may shelter from wind to reduce sailing at anchor. I rarely overnight with a single hook, even close to shore sailing at anchor can be uncomfortable.
In 6' or deeper water I find the keel ¾ down to almost all the way down works better than fully down. Full keelboats resist sailing at anchor over fin keelboats. I find the keel angled back presents more surfaces to resist swinging than straight down. Also if fully down you need 10' under the hull to allow for wave action and tidal change. Better make sure you know how much tidal surge is normal so you are not surprised
: off the bow at 30 to 45 degrees will reduce swinging on the hook. Some swinging will occur just not as much. Be wary of opposing wind or current shifts. With both rode's out and reversing current a fully down keel may snag. With a partially lowered keel, the rode may ride down the keel and under. The tensioned keel pendant may help reduce snagging. Using a Killet ¾ down should keep the rode low enough to reduce snagging no guarantees either way.
Setting double bow anchors with crew and or dinghy is "relatively" simple; most any good sailing book can provide details. Setting a double bow anchor solo can get interesting, especially on a dark cold night when you would rather be in a warm sleeping bag.
First bow anchor is set and the boat allowed drift back further than necessary. Using the motor the boat is steered at an angle to the current anchor rode. If marker buoys have been used on the primary it is easy to spot how you are progressing. The secondary anchor should have been led back from the bow cleat to the cockpit. Remember to run the rode outside the shrouds. When you get where you think you need to be, carefully drop the secondary. Kill the motor and drift back, then adjust the anchor rode's to set the position. It is recommended you "back down" on the rode's with the motor in reverse to firmly set the anchors.
There was a time anchored off a single, due to wind and waves decided to set the second off the bow. Of course it was dark cold and windy! After running the second anchor back to the cockpit, carefully the motor was used to steer the boat at an angle to the primary. It was dark and I motored until I felt the existing anchor rode had snubbed up some. Quickly killed the motor and dropped the second. Allowed the rode to play out, went back to bed. "Don't Ask" and crew slept much better. The next morning I discovered rather than a "V" set it was more like an "L"
Bow and Stern Anchor
: is my preferred configuration. Once the bow anchor is set three methods are used to set the stern.
Personally I don't care for bow and dead astern anchoring. With the rudder and motor off the transom a bridle would be required to attach the stern anchor to the boat. All adjustments would be off the bow anchor, just seems like too much hassle.
1. Drift, let the windage blow the boat side to side toss at the moment it starts to swing the other way. The longer the primary rode the bigger the swing. Sometimes it takes a few tries to set the anchor, usually a short scope
2. Motor carefully to swing the boat to one side.
3. Swim, carry or dinghy the anchor off to the side, I rarely have a dingy.
I find bow and stern anchor provide many options for adjusting the ride depending upon wind & waves
With the main sail up and the stern anchor on the weather side, adjustments can be made to swing the stern just enough in the wind to keep the sail full enough to keep it from luffing. Mainsheet less than centered, usually I lower the traveler some. Boat will ride steady no flogging. This works great for a lunch hook situation or any other short term anchoring where you will be there for a while yet don't want to drop the main.
Similar anchoring can be accomplished with the mainsail down; again the windage will hold the boat in place, no swinging.
Both of the above works well as long as the waves are not too bad. Bigger waves will prove uncomfortable
I have no real experience dealing with current conditions. There was one time anchored off Ft Pickens National Seashore sound side. The wind was blowing South West from the Gulf pushing the boat into the sound. Current was strong and running east to west along the length of the shore. Power boats running wide open keep the water churned trying to push you ashore, the water gets deep fast. It was my intent to set things up so I could pull the boat into thin water for boarding, yet still keep from grounding.
To really make things interesting to keep the powerboat wakes from rocking the boat too much the keel was down about 20 cranks. Took me three tries before I finally balanced all the variables with two anchors.
Less than ideal situations
I have never experienced anchoring in exposed water thru a nasty blow for any length of time. The worst I usually deal with is anchoring to drop sails, reef the main or adjust something. All these times just a single anchor has been needed.
More than once I have over night in "Small Craft Advisory" conditions. With my swing keel up I usually tuck in close as possible in a protected cove of the weather shore drop bow and stern anchor, no problem man. Around here pine trees line most of the shore line even in 20 MPH wind conditions a comfortable ride in the wind shadow of tree line. Depending upon wind direction and speed there are all kinds of ways to use the lay of the land to your advantage.
There are two heavy weather-anchoring techniques I try to prepare for. Both revolve around reducing the shock load on the rode caused by the boat pulling upon the anchor. Rode failure seems to be the big concern. Keeping the shank as parallel to the bottom as possible can reduce the risk of anchor dragging. Currently I have a single deck cleat, two additional deck cleats are planned to provide additional options.
Killets can be attached to the end opposite the anchor. The weight of the Killet will help hold the chain down also resist raising the line, providing additional shock absorbing. Six feet of chain is not really enough to accomplish this, ideally I need at least one boat length to provide necessary distance between the anchor and Killet.
Using the mushroom anchors the anchor could be threaded directly on the nylon rode. A smaller line attached to the Killet could be used to lower it down the anchor rode. Advantage is the ability to adjust both the Killet weight and where on the rode it rides. Risk of the Killet chaffing the anchor rode is there also the Killet line could become tangled
Another option using Killets involves my current 6' of chain attached to 25' of line, another section of chain attached to the final length of line to the boat. The Killet is attached to the chain. Potential risk is the knots connecting everything together failing.
Fenders are becoming more useful as I become more educated on how to use what you got. Instead of a weighted Killet the fender is installed ½ to ¾ the way up your anchor rode. It is my understanding the pull of the boat takes up slack forcing the fender deeper. The buoyancy of the fender resists downward pull. The end result is additional shock load resistance. The risk of using too big a fender and too much buoyancy creating less than ideal conditions at the anchor needs to be considered and planned for with fenders of differing sizes