Tips for happy cruising: can you maneuver in roadstead?


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roadstead photos

Away from the harbors, it’s time to enjoy cruising bays and coves-here are our tips for performing the correct, comfortable, and safe maneuvers so you don’t bother your neighbors and spend the night peacefully.

To spend the night quietly in the roadstead, you will need to carefully prepare the anchoring maneuver by studying the surroundings, trying to pick up the necessary “clues” to predict hypothetical problems. The first question to ask is about the entrance to the roadstead: does its placement provide protection from both main winds and waves? Keep in mind that the breeze regime can also change drastically from day to night (with the sun, the land warms more than the water, drawing cooler air to itself, while at night, cooling before the sea, creates the reverse process).

Before you give bottom, then, look around: not only looking for moored boats or shoals that could give rise to problems, but with a keen eye for what nature around you tells. Trees on the coast bent in a certain way, for example, indicate the direction and intensity of the wind that usually blows in the area. A very barren landscape promotes warming of the earth and could cause stronger thermal breezes. If you are not in Italy (where it is forbidden), consider whether, in the roadstead, there is any place that might lend itself to the safest mooring with lines ashore. The backdrop should also be studied minutely, based on the model of anchor you own. Mind that algae and mud generally do not guarantee good seals. If you are afraid to ship, also use the respect anchor to make an afforco or appennellaggio.

buoy-mooringMOOR AT THE BUOY
More and more bays in Italy are being set up with mooring buoys: once moored you will be safe, but the difficulties come at the time of docking. In the absence of power, you motor toward the buoy, bow to the wind and at low speed; when the bow wheel reaches the height of the buoy, you pass a line through the rod ring and that’s it. To make operations even easier, there are “smart” seagoing means such as the Hook&Moor or HandyDuck that allow the line to be passed without having to bend over from the bow. The situation becomes more complicated if the current is strong and not coming from the same direction as the wind. The tried-and-true sailor’s technique involves taking off the gas to let yourself drift by going along with the current and accelerating to full throttle when you get to the level of the buoy, to perform a spin in place.

To achieve such rotation, you will remove the throttle again and hook the buoy on the fly. There is, however, a safer method, but first you will need to determine the resultant between wind force and current force: look at the other anchored boats, identifying the neutral position with respect to wind and current. In case there are no other boats present, you need to find the balancing position yourself: put yourself far enough away from the buoy and look for a starting point from which you can point toward the buoy, without being deflected to one side or the other, even at low speed. Having found the spot, go up to the buoy: when you arrive at your destination, slide it along the boat and once you are at its height put the engine in neutral and proceed to hook up.

It may happen, in the roadstead, that you may have to move into the night: one of the difficulties of the operation is to raise the anchor, especially if the wind reaches 20 knots and there is a bit of a swell (since conditions are becoming unmanageable, you will rightly opt to shelter in port). Let’s try to simulate a situation: it is about 3 a.m., the wind is blowing at force 5, and you are anchored on 6 to 7 meters of bottom (about 18 m of chain to which you add 10 m of line).

To raise the anchor have the anchorman put on his gloves, start the engine, move perpendicular to the anchor position, and give it a little more gas. Although with difficulty, you should be able to retrieve the 10 meters of line by hand. After that, once you get to the chain, put it back into the nose pulley (and if you have it, into the windlass). You must not let it spin when the boat goes up the wave and you must take advantage of the moments when it goes down to retrieve it. If you can’t make it, the solution is to drop anchor: get a fender (with the boat’s name on it) and a line that is a little longer than the depth of the water. Put the line between the chain and the fender (anywhere on the chain) and cut the binding with a knife. The chain at that point is free and the whole thing falls into the water. You will return to retrieve the anchorage when the waters have calmed.

If your engine leaves you stranded and you have to stop in a sheltered place to try to locate the fault (assuming you know where to put your hands), the only solution is a sail anchor maneuver. When you have the wind in the bow (top photo) you first need to slow down the motion of the boat by letting the sails, especially the jib, down a bit. Anchor and chain should be arranged in the clear keeping in mind that you will only be able to work on the windward side. Roll the jib (to get the bow clear), continuing with mainsail only and bringing the boat on the tack to where you want to anchor. Once in position, keep the boat upwind as much as possible (it is a good idea to have one or two people on board standing fixed to the mainsail, ready to maneuver) and give it a quick bottom (if you are equipped with an anchor windlass, it might be good to lift the block for faster manual descent).

When the hull begins to retreat spin the calumus, taking care not to brake it, then give turn on the bollards. Anchoring with the wind at the stern (photo 2) is advisable only in light winds, because otherwise it is very difficult to place the anchor correctly due to excessive boat speed. If you think the maneuver is feasible, drop the anchor from the bow and spin the chain as the boat moves forward slowly pushed by the mainsail. After lowering the required amount of cable, quickly heave the boat into the wind and let it drift to make sure the hold is good. Now, with confidence, you can secure the chain to the bollard.



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