When spending a night at the anchor, you have different possibilities to anchor your boat. One of them is to take one or more lines ashore. This is not my favourite technique because I prefer anchoring with my boat that orients itself to the wind. Sometimes, especially when I enter some small marinas or narrow bays where there is no enough room to anchor freely, anchoring with lines ashore becomes an unavoidable option. The technique is, however, practicable only under certain weather conditions: first of all, wind must blow from the coast and have a stable direction; then, the sea must be smooth or, in the event of cross wind, subject to small waves.
This year, after a cruise season in the Ionian Greece, where anchoring with lines ashore is probably the most common technique adopted by yachtsmen, I saw a broad range of maneuvers, some of which were really picturesque or even dangerous. The strangest one – that, unfortunately, was performed countless times – consisted in letting a person diving with a line, already attached to the boat, in his hand and making him swimming to the shore while the boat was steered in reverse. In addition to a serious risk for the swimmer, the risk that the line ended up on the propeller and blocked the engine was really concrete.
Using a tender is, on the contrary, a safer, more practical technique to anchor the boat properly. Let’s see how.
The first step consists in finding a good area where to take lines ashore. The presence of pointy rocks is a basic requirement. Rocks should be neither too low – otherwise, high tides might submerge them – nor too high. The perfect height ranges from 1 to 2 metres from the sea level.
Once the stretch of coast where to take lines ashore has been found, the line – at least 30 meters long – can be taken on board the tender. There are different line models on the market but propylene ones are undoubtedly very resistant. Personally, I’ve always used normal lines that inevitably suffer wear.
At this point, one or two crewmembers can climb on board the tender and get prepared to tide the line around the rock. It will be sufficient to tow the tender with both the line and crew on board to the chosen point and then move away.
Once the quality, shape and solidity of the rock have been checked ( during our cruise in Greece, some big olive trees often represented a good solution), the crewmember can tide a bowline knot around it. When the knot is well-secured, the crew will give a signal to the boat that, at this point, can drop the anchor and move in reverse.
This way, the tender crew has enough time to approach to the boat and ease out by taking the top of the line to the boat stern on the upwind side. In the event of strong wind, dropping the anchor is useless; so, you have to stretch the slope and wait till the tender crew has finished the maneuver. However, especially if the maneuver is performed under power, the risk of making the anchor break ground is possible. So, the maneuver should be started when the tender crew gives the signal. This way, the mooring line will be taken on board with no downtime.
On board, the anchoring maneuver will be the traditional one, with the chain secured to a stopper and correct management of the riding slope. Especially in deep sea bottoms, (in Greece, 15-meter-deep sea bottoms are commonly found) the anchor chain length must be long in order to avoid problems in the event that weather conditions suddenly change.
When the anchoring line is finally stretched and the ashore line has been taken on board, we can adjust the distance of the stern from the coast, check the tension of both the fore and mooring chain. When the maneuver is finished, we can take a second line ashore, on the leeward side, and signal the presence of lines by tiding two or more fenders or floating buoys.
When it’s time to sail off, it will sufficient to repeat the same procedure but in reverse. First of all, the person on the tender will cast off the leeward line. Then, when the other crewmembers on the boat will have released the upwind one, he will untie the bowline knot before being taken on board with the same line.