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Date: 2 May 2014. Anchor Down.

At the end of a day safely anchoring is the key to a good night's sleep. In that regard I've got a system that ensures my beauty sleep. Because I'm over fifty that's an important factor for me.  But before the anchor is lowered, there are a few things I do to set the stage.

When it gets to be that time of the day and I'm approaching (within 1/2 hour or so) of the spot that may be my anchorage, I turn on the GPS. That way I have a track into the anchorage should it be necessary to leave at O-dark-thirty during the night.

As an aside: Mostly my GPS is on merely to confirm SOG (speed over ground) as I prefer navigating via paper charts. I write on 'em, putting the time down in pencil as I pass each marker. My chart-books have become a bit of a journal for where I've been.  Still, in the middle of the night with zero lights about, having a bread crumb path to follow on the GPS is helpful should departure be necessary.

I may be a bit of a Luddite, but I'm not adamantly against all technology.

Seaweed has a pretty cool system for lowering the anchor when I'm actively underway. Though by the wheel to the boat is a switch for raising and lowering the anchor, I prefer to be at the bow when the windlass is in motion. A friend (Doc on Safira) sold me a wired remote and it's perfection indeed.

When underway the windlass remote hangs here (#1) on this hook. (The corner clock displays current time zone.)
(#2) My remote is on (#3) box holding the solenoid which is one electrical component of the windlass.


#4 (the black triangle) is access to my anchor locker.  Originally it was held in place by four screws.

And the reason my solenoid box is there versus on the forward bulkhead is because the hot wire was six inches too short.  Six inches meant it could not tuck up out of the way but splicing the wire isn't a good idea and, well, it's good enough. Still, I wish I'd had six extra inches of 4-gauge in red. Sigh.

So, upon arrival at my chosen anchorage I do several swings around, crisscrossing area I intend to anchor. I check the bottom with my depth sounder and look for obstructions which would be shown by a marked difference in depth.

If in a couple of places something pinged that was much shallower than the surrounding areas I would worry that whatever is down there could impede my safe anchoring. It could either snag my chain and rip loose the anchor, or trap my chain and I'd lose the anchor. Neither is optimal.

The obstruction could entangle my anchor. At the cost of a 33 pound Rocna and all my chain, well, I don't want to risk that. So after puttering around until I find the general vicinity where I want to drop the hook I'll turn the boat bow head-on toward the current or wind then take her out of gear, letting Seaweed coast forward.

As the boat comes to a stop I note (write down) the coordinates and head for the bow where I lower the anchor using my hand-held remote. I've checked the depth so I know approximately how much chain to let out. As the boat starts to drift back I let out more chain until I'm at about 2 to 1.

2 to 1: If the depth of the water is 7' plus the height of my bow is another 3', when I have out twenty feet of chain [7 + 3 = 10' x 2 = 20'] I'll wait until Seaweed snubs in. There will be a bit of a catch when the anchor sets.  But no, I'm not done yet!

The chain is painted so I know the approximate length out.

Next I let out another 20 to 30' of chain and then will cleat it off to the Samson post on the bow. Now I go back to the helm and put her into reverse. Slowly! This is a Rocna and believe me slow is all that is required. The boat will go taut on the chain and start to swing around.


The Samson post is right behind my LewmarV700 windlass.  The black snubber line is attached to my chain.
Normally I'll have the chain cleated off to the Samson post. Not sure why it isn't in this picture but...!

The next step is to go to the bow and attach my black snubber rope to the chain. I prefer a Rolling Hitch knot -- it's easy to tie and comes off with minimal effort. Plus it's never come off without my encouragement. That's more than some boaters who use those high-priced chain hooks can say. And it's free which is a perfect price.

Grog's easy instructions on how to tie a Rolling Hitch:
http://www.animatedknots.com/rollinghitch/

That's it. Seaweed is secure to the bottom.  Now I fill out my Log Book, noting not just the anchor down coordinates but where the boat now sits. This is one of my charts:
 

Anchor down coordinates: N29 51.034  W084 40.168

 

Low

 (focusing on last two digits)

High

18 (actually .018) N  .034 40 (actually .040)
44 (actually .144) W  .168 74 (actually .174)
 

As the boat moves in the tides and is blown by winds I write down the last two numbers for each of my coordinates (North and West). Now I have a range to work with and can immediately check my GPS to confirm I'm within the parameters of scope (chain out) and am not dragging. If a boat is getting close, knowing it's him and not me is helpful -- not that I won't move if I feel imperiled.

There's a bit of wiggle room and if you compare the anchor down coordinates with the high end, obviously my down mark isn't spot on -- but it is close enough. I do try to be more accurate but, hey -- this is real boating: it's not perfect.


Just when you think you've graduated from the school of experience,
someone thinks up a new course. Mary H. Waldrip, journalist. 

One nice thing about a big anchor and all chain is that I'm comfortable knowing my system works -- and experience tells me that by day three I'll have to power out the anchor as it's so well dug in that the windlass cannot lift it. That's secure, and I do sleep very well at night.

And to you and yours, good night and sweet dreams.

P.S. -- I've read lots of good things about the smart phone app called Drag Queen, but as my cell-phone isn't very smart I have no personal experience with it. Still, I'd welcome a contribution to The Writer's Block if you use the program. That's a Hint!

The Anchor Up (Painting your chain) article may be of interest too.

Do you also lay a bread crumb trail with your GPS for departure in the dark.
And, what sort of anchor alarm system do you use?

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