And if our engine dump us at the very moment? We answer the most rhetorical question with the most obvious statement: we’ll steer with sails. The success of the manoeuvre will depend on our training and experience, that is how much we trained with sails maybe experiencing a bit of pleasure.
Considering that (although the navigation code doesn’t prohibit this expressly) in almost all harbours manoeuvres under sail are often forbidden, a good training opportunity could come from an under-sail anchoring.
The traditional solution is to drop the anchor by heading up. The manoeuvre is rather simple but it requires us to be precise.
Having identified the area where to drop our anchor, we have to come close to that point by sailing close-hauled. We can adjust our speed by blanketing one or both the two sails, always with a generous safety margin in order to have enough space to bear and go away.
When we are on the last border, before heading up, we will have already asked a person in the cockpit to go to the bow for the mooring operations while the same person will have already checked and prepared everything to drop the anchor.
Meanwhile, when we are sure we are on the right side to head up, we can furl or lower the jib.
This manoeuvre has a double function: it frees the fore triangle while removing all risks for the helmsman represented by a flapping sail. After freeing the bow from the jib, the helmsman goes fast to the anchor. We are sailing close hauled, so we can loose the mainsail in order to reduce our speed. This way, the helmsman will work better and he will manage to backanchor.
When we find the right alignment between the point where we want to drop the anchor and the wind direction, we can haul the wind, loose the mainsail and wait for fresh way to stop. When the boat stops, we can drop the anchor.
Pushed by the wind, our boat will start to withdraw and the helmsman will ease out. If the bow lists on one side, don’t worry, if wind is light, it will withdraw faster.