PxPixel
Evolution of an Anchor Handling System - Sail Magazine

Evolution of an Anchor Handling System

Fifteen years of sailing around the English Channel, North Sea, Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean taught me many things, not the least of which was the importance of good ground tackle and a means to handle it.
Author:
Publish date:
windlass

Fifteen years of sailing around the English Channel, North Sea, Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean taught me many things, not the least of which was the importance of good ground tackle and a means to handle it.

All of which left me somewhat surprised at the rudimentary anchoring setups on many North American boats, especially those built prior to the 1980s. It seemed that extended anchoring was not part of the boating psyche at that time; most boats were intended to spend their lives on moorings or in slips and hence sported vestigial bow rollers that would make the average northern European sailor recoil in horror.

 Our project boat was not outfitted for stowing an anchor

Our project boat was not outfitted for stowing an anchor

 We were reduced to using a bucket to lug around the anchor and rode

We were reduced to using a bucket to lug around the anchor and rode

Our project boat, a 1973 Norlin 34, was built in Sweden as a racer-cruiser, so did not come with the hefty bow roller typical of that country’s cruising boats. Instead she had a dainty affair that could have come off a 19ft daysailer, certainly too small to stow an anchor on; and with no chainpipe to lead the rope rode belowdecks, I was reduced to dumping it in a bucket to make it easier to carry it and the 22lb anchor between the cockpit and the foredeck. The bow cleats were perfect for mooring pennants but awkwardly placed for cleating off an anchor rode, and the chocks were lethal—as I found out when they cut through my bow lines like knives during a nor’easter, causing the bow to crash repeatedly against a dock box.

This obviously would not do. My first, rather hasty anchoring upgrade involved purchasing a good-sized Windline anchor roller and installing it atop a hastily fashioned teak baseplate; cutting a hole in the deck for a chainpipe; and installing a central cleat for the anchor rode. I upgraded the anchor rode to 200 feet of 5/8in Yale Brait spliced to 70 feet of 5/16in G4 chain, but decided to keep the 22lb Delta in the interests of preserving my back. It was actually an excellent little anchor that never once dragged in all the time we used it.

cleat%20mounts

Oh, and I got rid of those evil line-chafing bow chocks. In fact, I decided to do away with chocks altogether, instead cutting away the first two feet of aluminum toerail and mounting a larger pair of cleats from Schaefer Marine on teak backing plates.

We sailed with this arrangement for several seasons, and had no problems with it except when trying to get the anchor up when it was blowing hard. I also felt that a bigger anchor would be essential if I wanted to sail further afield, so we upgraded to a 35lb Spade. Between the extra weight, the need to stuff the rode down the chainpipe on a heaving foredeck, and the fact that the Spade tends to dig in so deeply it can take some real effort to break it out, I soon decided that a windlass would be a sensible upgrade. And—full disclosure—that anchoring system was damned ugly.

I installed the Maxwell RC800 windlass two springs ago, over the space of a couple of weekends. More details on this project HERE.

 The finished product was a tidier and more functional bow

The finished product was a tidier and more functional bow

This proved to be one of the more enjoyable projects I’ve undertaken, and I felt a real sense of satisfaction the first time I pressed the button and the chain rattled happily around the gypsy as the anchor made its way to the surface. To aid the anchor’s progress up and over the roller I installed a Quickline swivel. In the process of this upgrade I also tidied up the foredeck, getting rid of the teak baseplates and having the bow roller welded to the stainless steel bow plate that had held the original roller. All round, this was a huge improvement in both functionality and appearance. If I have all 70 feet of chain out—which I do most of the time, now that I don’t have to sweat it up by hand—I just cleat the rode off. I also have a 20ft nylon snubber with a chain hook on one end that I’ll use if I’m staying put for any length of time.

It took a few years, but I eventually ended up with an anchor set-up that is ideal for 90 percent of scenarios. I’d have liked a second bow roller, and maybe I should have gone for the rope capstan on the windlass. Still and all, it’s a joy to use, which means it gets used often!

Photos by Peter Nielsen

Related

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more

Navy-Sand-Dune_1080

Tucket Footwear’s Giller Shoes

Just for KicksMove over Crocs, there’s a new plastic shoe in town. Unlike the aforementioned fashion crimes, Tucket Footwear’s Giller shoes are made for boating. Water will get in, yes, but it will also run straight out again via rows of “scuppers” in the uppers and a dozen drain ...read more

01-m3113_git170829-294

France’s Maxi-tri Ultime class

It’s hard to believe how far foiling has come since the Moth class figured out how to reliably take to the air in the early 2000s.Was it really only in 2013 that the America’s Cup was dragged kicking and screaming into the foiling world by Emirates Team New Zealand back in San ...read more

GGTobagoCays

Cruising: Guadeloupe to Grenada

Our Dream Yacht Charter delivery started as a “wouldn’t it be fun if” idea. Those are usually misguided, if not downright stupid. But a Bali 4.3 named Jumelles (French for “twins,” appropriately) needed to leave Guadeloupe to do heavier charter work in Grenada, and as soon as I ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comWhen I bought my boat it had 18 through-hull fittings. To reduce the number of holes in the hull (I ultimately cut them by half), I first re-plumbed the drain hoses from my sinks, scuppers, bilge pumps and ...read more

rokk

Scanstrut: ROKK Charge+

It RokksWith the increasing use of smartphones and tablets for in-cockpit navigation comes the issue of keeping these devices charged, since running nav software will drain those batteries in no time. Scanstrut has come to the rescue with the ROKK Charge+, the first-ever ...read more

GreenCove2-2048

Liveaboard Voting Rights Threatened in Florida

Bucking decades of precedent, a Florida elections officer is refusing to allow customers of a popular mail forwarding service to register to vote in his county. Since 1988, St. Brendan’s Isle of Green Cove Springs in Clay County has provided transient Americans with mail ...read more

shutterstock_55353433

A Lifetime of Sailing

I began my sailing life as a kid in an 8ft El Toro and a 16ft Snipe on Lake Millerton in California’s San Joaquin Valley. I am concluding it as an 80-something in a Rhodes 19 on Lake Damariscotta on the coast of Maine. So what does this have to do with the hardy, oceangoing ...read more