Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills

Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills, Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills

Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills

To anchor in an emergency when you don’t have the aid of your engine requires some thought and planning. If you lost your engine, and are using your sails for propulsion, and the wind dies… you might have to anchor quickly, or, you might have the option of sailing toward a decent choice for an anchorage. 

Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills, Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills

When You Get to Choose

There are two situations – one when you must anchor now, regardless of the spot, and the other when you can be more selective and sail toward a decent option for an anchorage.

If possible, and you are able to sail to a choice; determine all those qualities of a good anchorage – room to swing, good holding ground, away from lee shore, enough depth at high and low tide, proximity to other vessels, proximity to where you need to go in your dinghy.

Once the anchor is set; you probably will want to furl your sails.

Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills, Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills

No Time to Choose

Or, perhaps, you have no time to consider any of those conditions and must anchor immediately. 

This is different from starting your day under power, losing power, having to raise sail to avoid danger, being able to sail toward a more desirable location, and find yourself now ready to anchor and wait for a tow. 

In this situation; you are going to have to do the best with whatever conditions you have.

I had a hilarious situation where we lost steerage in the middle of a very busy channel, boats all around, we were under sail. I ordered an immediate anchor drop, we were in 55 foot depth, and one of my students responded rapidly that we did not have enough scope to anchor there! My response was that we had to “make do,” and when the current carried us to a shallower position, the anchor hopefully would set.

Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills, Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills

Some Warnings

Any time you choose to give up one type of control for another; you need to have a pretty good idea that the second method is dependable. 

Second, determine where you plan to anchor and make sure it’s somewhere with a bit of room behind you in case you don’t hold.

Next, be ready to sail out of danger if the anchor drags. Have plenty of room to lee. 

Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills, Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills

Technique

The plan will be to round up into the wind, possibly quickly roll up your jib, then drop the anchor. Once you think it’s holding, douse your main. 

But – anything goes to keep you safe. Whatever you have to do to keep your vessel and crew safe is the best choice.

Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills, Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills

Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Checklist

  • Pick an upwind / up current spot to drop the hook
  • Check for room to lee in case you drag
  • Have the anchor locker open, safety off, anchor weight shifted forward, ready to go over
  • Assign someone to announce situation on VHF and keep watch
  • Have sound-producing device ready for emergency signals
  • Quickly roll the jib as you come into the wind
  • Drop anchor
  • Drop main before it sails you forward over your anchor
  • Watch very carefully to see if you are holding since you can’t back down on your anchor
Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills, Emergency Anchoring From Sailing Drills

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