How to set sail and which tips to use to release our jammed anchor
Generally speaking, it’s not a difficult maneuver, especially when there is no wind. However, it is essential to be careful and follow the following tips if our anchor ends up getting stuck – it often happens in highly crowded anchorages – in the chain of another boat.
We have decided that it’s time to set sail. The first thing to do is to follow the instructions given by the person who, standing in the bow, will tell us how the chain is oriented and whether we need to step on the gas or not. Propulsion is an important matter. Some meters ahead, indeed, our engine will enable us to release tension from the chain and therefore the strain exerted on the windlass.
In weak wind, if we don’t want to use forward motion, we can exert a traction on the chain by activating the windlass but only a few meters at a time. Then, we have to stop and wait that the boat moves forward on the chain, by releasing tension thanks to the traction exerted before and then restart with the electric windlass. A continuous traction would put an excessive strain on the windlass, with the risk of damaging it.
Special attention should be paid to the size of the anchor locker, too. If, in fact, the anchor well is deep enough, the chain will drop inside correctly and with no problems. If, on the contrary, the locker is not deep, the chain will fall under the base of the windlass where it will get stuck or it will compromise the links of the chain lifter, with the risk the all the chain might slip in the sea.
In order to avoid any inconvenience, we should stop the maneuver every couple of meters of chain weighed, stretch the chain under the windlass by hand or with the help of a boathook and restart the maneuver.
Before the anchor detaches from the sea bottom, when only a few meters of chain will be still in water, the boat will be no longer secured and, therefore, it will be important to have someone in the cockpit that can maneuver in order to hold position and prevent the boat from drifting leeward towards the other boats, always ready to act when when the anchor will be finally released even if still partially submerged.
During this maneuver, the anchor might get stuck in the chain or the line of another boat. Today, there are special devices that can make things easier but, in this case, a line and a boathook will be enough to solve the problem.
We only need to follow the following instructions.
First of all, we need to lift the anchor towards the surface of the sea with the help of the windlass. Then, we must take a line and tie an end to a cleat while, with the other end, we must tie a bowline knot. The latter will be dropped until it intercepts the chain below which our anchor has got stuck.
At this point, we can slip a little of riding scope, release the anchor and secure it to the bow fitting. Finally, we only need to untie one of the ends of the chain used to lift the chain that, at this point, will drop in the bottom.
Now, we can set sail!