A How To For Caribbean Sailing

There is something magical about chartering a boat and cruising the clear, blue-green blue waters of the Caribbean. There is no finer method to get a break and unwind than to sail from island to island. At some time during your Caribbean cruising experience, however, you will wish to stop. Whether you wish to fish, swim, snorkel or dive, have lunch or stay overnight, you will need to find an anchorage and either anchor or utilize a mooring ball. Anchoring a boat firmly is among the a lot of basic abilities in boat handling. The secret is preparation and sluggish maneuvering. If you miss the very first time, do not be embarrassed. There is not a knowledgeable sailor afloat who has not encountered this issue. Simply go around and start once again. The essential thing is to have it right! By anchoring inadequately, not just are you threatening your boat, however likewise the other boats anchored close by. By following these suggestions and strategies, you can feel great that you will have safe, problem-free anchoring.

Picking The Anchorage

The primary step in anchoring is to choose an anchorage. Try to reach your anchorage relatively early enough in the afternoon. This allows you enough light to prevent any shoals or other hazards like rock/coral heads, fish webs or boats, ferries, trucks, mooring balls, crab pots and cables. In addition, throughout peak season (December to April) lots of popular areas throughout the Caribbean become extremely crowded. By getting here early enough, you have additional time to go someplace else before nightfall.

An excellent anchorage offers defense from the present weather condition conditions and will likewise use defense from the expected weather condition. Are there any local weather condition (wind) conditions or direct exposure to swells that could make the anchorage too rolly?


Rock, coral and shale prevent anchors from digging in. If possible, prevent grassy bottoms, where it is very tough to set the anchor. No matter where your boat is anchored, the biggest possible swing variety should be thought about.


Preparing yourself

Once you have decided that the anchorage is the ideal area to stop on your Caribbean sailing adventure, there are several actions to take in the past really anchoring. Before doing anything else, work out a system of communication in between the individual at the helm and the crew member dropping the anchor. Bear in mind that your engine will be running and therefore you will be unable to interact verbally. Hand signals usually work best. Furl the sails and generally make the boat shipshape prior to getting in the anchorage. Also, reduce the rowboat painter (the line that connects at the front of the dinghy) if you are dragging the rowboat behind you. This avoids it from being drawn into the prop when you put the engine in reverse. Open the anchor locker hatch, and if your anchor has a safety line connected to the chain (generally found just in mono hulls), untie and release it. Get the anchor all set to be visited disengaging the anchor from the bow rollers. This is done by utilizing the remote control windlass (found in the majority of Caribbean cruising charters) to reduce the anchor about 2 to 3 feet. Make sure all fingers and toes are far from the chain! Lastly, take a trip of the anchorage at really sluggish speed to get a sense of where you would like to be.


Dropping and Setting the Anchor

As the most recent arrival in an anchorage, you should anchor to keep clear of boats already at anchor. Make sure you will have enough room to fall back on the anchor without lying too close to any vessel anchored behind you once you have actually laid out a 7 to 1 scope. In normal conditions, if you are using all chain, a safe minimum anchor scope ratio is 5 to 1 (chain length to depth).

In heavy weather condition, the scope ratio is 7 to 1. Depth is the depth of the water at high tide plus the height from the water line to the bow roller. Scope is the real quantity of anchor line (chain) paid out when the boat is safely anchored. For instance, if high water is 20 feet deep and your bow roller is 5 feet above the water, you need 125 feet (5 x 20 + 5 feet) of scope to anchor if using all chain, or 175 feet if using a 7 to 1 scope. Remember, putting out too little scope is among the most common mistakes cruisers make when anchoring.


Stop the boat exactly where you wish the anchor to lay and take note of the depth. You can keep a feline straight into the wind by using both engines at idle speed. When your vessel has lost all forward movement, it is now time to drop and set the anchor.


Regardless of the term, “dropping anchor”, you never ever wish to toss the anchor over the side or let it run totally free instantly, since the chain will go out at an incredible speed and pile on itself instead of setting out directly on the sea bed. A stacked anchor chain prevents the anchor from setting appropriately and may really foul the anchor. Instead, with the windlass, lower the anchor quickly to the bottom. Let the wind slowly push your boat back- do not attempt to reverse. Discharge sufficient scope as the vessel moves aft. If you are in a mono hull, do not fret about being broadside to the wind. When the wanted quantity of scope has been let out, snub the chain and allow the wind to correct the boat. As soon as the boat is headed with the bow into the wind, carefully put the engine into reverse and throttle at 1500 rpm’s for about 15-20 seconds. This must set the anchor and the anchor chain ought to start to align. If it vibrates or skips, blurt more scope. An anchor that is set will not shake the chain. Once you are satisfied the anchor is set, shut off the engine. Place on your snorkel equipment and aesthetically examine the anchor to guarantee your boat is protected. If the anchor is lying on its side, caught in coral, or the chain is twisted around a coral head, reset it.

When the anchor is firmly set, look around for referral points in relation to your boat. If not, you are most likely dragging the anchor.


Dealing With the Dragging Anchor

If your boat is dragging anchor throughout the day, it is not a major problem. Start your engine and put it into idle gear. Attempt to let out more chain. Wait a few minutes to see if the anchor sets itself. If not, you will have to re-anchor. If you boat is dragging at night, it becomes a little bit more difficult. If you are sound asleep and you do not bump into anything, you might not even know you dragged up until the next morning when you wake up in a different location. I have good friends who are exceptionally skilled sailors. They actually awakened in a totally different anchorage after a night of dragging. On the other hand, you may end up being conscious of night dragging when other individuals in the anchorage start yelling and flashing lights at your boat. Start your engine and keep it idling. Attempt to let out more chain and wait to see if the anchor resets itself. If not, you will need to re-anchor. Use your depth sounder to try and discover another area to anchor. Keep all the lights on the boat off to get the very best night vision possible. Slowly transfer to another area with severe care. If your neighbor’s boat is dragging throughout the day, try and get their attention. Put out fenders to prevent damage to your boat. If no one is on board the dragging boat (they are onshore drinking at the local beach bar), you can either get aboard their boat and reset the anchor, or if you are not comfortable doing that, you may need to move your own boat. During the night, if you are suddenly jolted awake when another boat strikes yours, right away begin the engine and keep it idling. Wake up the crew of the other boat (yell, flash your lights, etc), put out fenders and do the very same as throughout the day.


The Mooring Ball Option

You do no have to go to the trouble of using your anchor. Second, the mooring’s anchor most likely is never ever going to drag. And third, due to the fact that the mooring’s anchor is so heavy and deeply inserted in the sea bottom, less scope is needed and, therefore, the boat will swing around in a tighter radius than it would on its own anchor.

Have a team member ready with a boat hook at the bow to direct you and to choose up the mooring pennant (a line with a loop at the end). Point the bow of the boat into the wind and slowly approach the mooring ball. Shift into reverse to stop the boat as the crew member raises the pennant on board and passes the totally free end of the line( s) through it.


To leave a mooring ball, make certain the rowboat is once again on a brief painter. Un-cleat the line( s) and just release the pennant. Take care not to run over the mooring buoy and pennant as you leave for your next Caribbean sailing destination.


Weighing Anchor

Prior to raising the anchor, preparation is again necessary. Ensure that loose products are stowed and hatch covers are closed. (The anchor locker hatch cover need to be open). Reduce up the rowboat painter once again. Start the engine. Many charter boats need the engine on to operate the windlass. Have a crew member stand on the most forward point at the bow with the windlass remote control. Using hand signals, the team member instructs the helmsman to move the boat forward extremely gradually in the instructions of the chain. Ensure the helmsman stops the movement of the boat before overshooting the anchor. While the chain is slack, begin cranking it up. When you get to the snubber, put down the remote and remove the snubber. Resume cranking. When the chain is taut again, with hand signals, instruct the helmsman to move the boat forward once again in the direction of the chain. The whole concept of this is to avoid utilizing the windlass to move the boat forward, as this triggers amazing stress on the windlass and on the chain roller. At one point, you will discover the boat directly above the anchor. Finish cranking the chain till the anchor is all the method up and chosen the rollers. Signify the helmsman that the boat is free. Reattach the safety line to the anchor chain if it has one, stow the remote control and protect the anchor locker hatch. Return to the cockpit to help raise the sails.


Anchoring is among the most essential activities you will do while cruising. Anchoring is as much an art as a science. Even the most experienced sailors have problem anchoring at times.


By anchoring improperly, not only are you endangering your boat, but also the other boats anchored close by. As the newest arrival in an anchorage, you must anchor to keep clear of boats currently at anchor. Scope is the real quantity of anchor line (chain) paid out when the boat is safely anchored. A piled anchor chain avoids the anchor from setting correctly and may really nasty the anchor. And third, due to the fact that the mooring’s anchor is so heavy and deeply embedded in the sea bottom, less scope is needed and, for that reason, the boat will swing around in a tighter radius than it would on its own anchor.

Jason Smith

I am a former Marine who works as a Software Engineer. I have five US States left to visit. My sarcasm is legendary as is my knowledge of movie quotes. I can name the song or artist of just about any 80s or 90s song. I like whiskey, wine, coffee, soaking in hot springs or my hot tub. I enjoy getting out hiking, and taking pictures, along with metal detecting & magnet fishing from time to time. I do enjoy the occasional gaming by breaking out the original NES or SNES. I do spend a lot of time building other websites, (about 30 some in total).

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