Sailing tips » Safe anchoring

Here are twelve tips on how to become the best “anchorman” on a sailing boat:

  1. Always follow the instructions of the skipper. The skipper is in charge of the docking or anchoring operation and the role of the “anchorman” is to assist. Listen carefully and follow instructions.
  2. Agree on a system of hand signals and use them to indicate to the skipper every time 10-15 meters of anchor chain passes through the windlass. Well-maintained sailing boats always have a series of colored markers on the chain that correspond to chain length.
  3. At all times, use the angle of your free hand to indicate to the skipper the angle of the direction of the anchor chain relative to the water line. The skipper needs this information in order to decide exactly what to do next.
  4. The windlass is a powerful instrument and anchor-work can be dangerous. So, stay focused! It’s best not to talk to anyone while you’re doing anchor work.
  5. As soon as all of the chain has been deployed, let the skipper know immediately!
  6. Stay calm and remain on standby, always prepared to execute the skipper’s commands immediately.
  7. Whatever happens, do not put your feet or hands on the anchor chain or the anchor windlass. Injuries can happen in an instant if you’re not careful.
  8. Keep children at least two meters away from the area around the windlass.
  9. Constantly monitor the progress of the windlass and check its speed, noting how fast the chain is coming in to the chain locker.
  10. When hauling the anchor up, pay close attention to the last several meters of chain. At the moment when the anchor reaches the level of the deck, simply reduce the speed of the windlass but don’t stop it all together as that can cause damage.
  11. In crowded harbors, anchor chains can look like spaghetti underwater. It’s easy to catch your anchor on another boat’s chain. Every time you take up the chain, be sure to have nearby a rope about 4 meters in length as well as a boat hook. These are indispensible when untangling the anchor.
  12. Finally, always wear life jacket even under the best weather conditions.