Guest Writer: John N. Jamieson

If you are anything like me, you're always looking to make short-handed sailing easier and more efficient. How many times have you found anchoring a handful for you and your sailing crew? Once you try cockpit anchoring, you'll be hooked for sure!

Cruising sailboats with small, easy-to-handle marine anchors can take advantage of this quick and easy sailing technique. Follow these five simple steps to set up your cockpit for short-handed anchoring.

1. Prepare the Stern Pulpit Mount

Cruising sailboats with small marine anchors should try cockpit anchoring. This makes launching easier and less stressful for short-handed sailing crews.

Measure across the flukes of your anchor. Cut a piece of PVC a bit wider than your measurement. Split the tube and clamp it to the stern rail.

2. Mount the Anchor

Drape your anchor over the PVC tube so that the flukes face inboard. Keep the shank outboard. Lash the anchor down with easy-to-remove bungee cord.

3. Attach the Anchor Chain

Remove the chafing chain from the lower part of your anchor rode. Take it back to the cockpit and bend it (attach it) to the anchor. Lead the chain outside of the stern pulpit and back into the cockpit.

4. Fairlead the Anchor Rode

Pull a length of rope anchor rode from your anchor locker equal to your boat length and cleat the line. Coil the remaining line toward the bitter end.

Lead the coil through the bow chock and feed it out as you walk back to the cockpit. Stay outside of all stanchions, rails, and shrouds. Attach the rope bitter end to the chain bitter end.

5. Launch Your Cockpit Anchor

Remove the bungee from your anchor. Use just the mainsail alone for good control when anchoring under sail. Approach on a close reach. This point of sail gives you the most control over your boat speed. Turn up into the wind when you are within two to three boat lengths of the anchoring spot. Ease the mainsheet all the way, luff the mainsail, and wait for the boat to stop. Drop the anchor.

Once the anchor makes contact with the bottom, backwind the mainsail. Push the boom out against the wind. This will force the boat to move astern and dig the anchor into the seabed. Alternate sides when you backwind; move the boom to the opposite side and backwind for a few seconds; then to the other side. Site an object ashore in line with the side of the boat. If the object stays steady, that means your anchor has dug in.

There are many ways to rig a cockpit anchor, but this method will give you a 2:1 or 3:1 scope in shallow water anchorages. Once the anchor sets, increase the scope to 7:1 or more for safe overnight anchoring.

Use these five simple sailing tips to get your marine anchor ready to launch from your cockpit. This will make anchoring under sail easier and less stressful for you and your short-handed sailing crew.


Article by: John N. Jamieson

Captain John with 25+ year of experience shows you the no-nonsense sailing skills you need beyond sailing school! Sign up for his FREE highly popular "Captain John's Sailing Tips" Newsletter. Find out how you can get instant access to over 550 sailing articles, sailing videos, newsletters and more at SkipperTips

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