shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Anchoring According to Weather Part 2

February 8, 2016

Last week we talked about the importance of anchoring according to a forecasted blow rather than the current weather. This week, we'll consider other important factors to keeping you out of your neighbor's front yard.


When you are building an anchor package, there are charts available for the sized anchor that is sufficient for each sized boat. However, there are a lot of things not considered in those charts. Most cruising boats have substantially more windage than when they were manufactured. Also, these charts are often for weekend sailors. Besides, the most important word is "sufficient." As a safe rule of thumb, find the size anchor recommended for your boat, and then buy the next size up. We have a 34-footer with little windage and for 8 years our primary anchor was a 33 Bruce, but we have never felt as safe as we have since we bought a 44 Bruce. We now call our old one the Baby Bruce and it (and its rode) is stored below until we need a third anchor. Our secondary is a 35 CQR. Our fourth anchor is a Fortress that lives on the aft rail. Our primary rode is 300 feet of chain, our secondary is 60 feet of chain and 250 feet of nylon. Our other two rodes are stored in the bilge in various lengths of chain (all less than 50 feet) and hundreds and hundreds of feet of line. And we've still dragged. In Isla Mujeres, during a 5-day gale we dragged with all 4 anchors out. During the entire blow we only dragged a few feet, but it was still disconcerting, so I understand the feeling. The trick is to not lie to yourself and to prepare as best you can before the blow, not try to react after it starts.

A great anchoring package is a must


It frightens me to see how little anchor rode some people put out. It also explains the number of people we see drag. I would say the biggest reason for inadequate scope is unmarked (or poorly marked, such as spray painted) rode. Once chain gets muddy, how can you possibly see little spray painted lines on it? Calculating the ratio may also be a problem. Many people do the math as follows: 15 feet of water, so 4 to 1 equals 60 feet. WRONG. Where does your rode leave the boat? For us, it is 4 feet off the water. For some trawlers, it may be 10 feet or more off the water. The depth of the water must be added to the distance your rode is off the water when it exits the boat when you decide on scope. So, in our case the math is: 15 feet of water plus 4 feet equals 19 feet times 4 is 76 feet, that's ridiculous, put out 100. We rarely anchor with less than 100 feet of chain out. And to answer the question that is often asked, yes, we have used all 300 feet and wished we had more.


I have seen many drawing of people's anchor packages that include a second anchor or a weight attached to the chain. We have never used any of these for a specific reason. We have been in situations (in Bocas del Toro, Panama, most recently) where it was imperative that we get the anchor raised immediately. Messing with another weight or anchor on the rode would only slow me down, as the manual windlass cranker. Sometimes, being able to retrieve your anchor in a hurry is just as important as being sure it'll hold you when it blows.


When we sailed into Luperon, Dominican Republic, we were met by the self-proclaimed harbor master who told us to set our anchor to the east, regardless of the early morning calm. When the wind blows in the Caribbean, unless there is a hurricane, it blows from the east, period. Once again, the lesson is to set your anchor for the wind you WILL have once it starts to blow, not for the wind you currently have.

Over dinner one night, our single-handed friend mentioned hanging from two anchors during a blow. Dave said, "That always worries me. When we're hanging from two it seems like every boat that drags in our vicinity gets funneled right into our bow. Their anchor drags up our chain and bang, there they are."

Our friend had the perfect solution. When he anchors from two, he takes out all his secondary rode and attaches a float. If someone drags down on him, or if he has to leave in a hurry, he can jettison his secondary, raise his primary as normal, and get out of trouble. Though we still dislike hanging from two anchors, the next time the weather dictates that we should, we'll remember that trick and feel a bit safer from dragging neighbors.

MONDAY we'll share a trick we just learned. Simple and a great technique to have in your repertoire of self-sufficiency.


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