Thursday, December 6, 2007


Keep anchoring basic and simple, make it a series of four steps. Approach, placement, laying out, and fetching up. Plan each step separately rather than trying to plan the entire anchoring as one long, complex evolution and think ahead of the ship so each step leads more smoothly to the next.

A ship might need to enter an anchorage, reduce speed, back and fill around to the final heading, maneuver to the selected anchoring loca­tion, stop, and then move slowly astern, all as part of what might ap­pear at first to be a complex approach and anchoring evolution. Reducing speed is one separate, basic task, as is backing and filling, and stopping while controlling the ship's head. Consider each task separately, as you proceed step by step to anchor, and even relatively complex, challenging anchoring jobs become simply a series of small jobs that most mariners have mastered.

Every mariner studies the charts, sailing directions, predicted weather conditions and, as the ship gets closer to the anchorage, the radar presentation of the anchorage, looking for several types of information, including:
1. Direction and strength of wind and current.
2. Depth of water.
3. Type of bottom.
4. Location of lee shore, shoals, or other hazards.
5. Maneuvering room for approach.
6. Number and location of ships already at anchor.
7. Conditions affecting visibility, weather, and currents.
8. Local customs and practices of the port.
9. Swinging room after anchoring.

Mariners too often weigh these factors only to decide on the best location for anchoring, the amount of chain, and the number and placement of anchors. They forget that shiphandling is an inherent part of anchoring and that this same information must also be used to plan the shiphandling phase of the anchoring evolution. Look at the situation again and plan each step of the task using existing conditions to advantage, to help rather than hinder the work as much as possible.
It is as important to have an alternative "bailout" plan in mind as it is to have a primary plan of action, before entering the anchorage, in case things don't work out as expected.

A plan consists of leaving the anchorage until conditions improve or, if it is too late or impossible to leave, putting down an anchor and riding to a short stay while you sort things out. Remember, having those two anchors hanging at the bow is like having two tugs standing by forward ready to hold your ship and prevent accidents. Keep in mind too that any plan must be flexible since all too often another ship will be anchored in your selected spot or in the way of your approach. The plan is only a starting point: Use your shiphandling skills to adjust to conditions as they develop.