How to Anchor and Set Up an Anchor Bridle

In our first episode of the Inspire and Learn Series, catamaran expert Joe Fox talks us through the best technique for a safe and secure anchor, as well as how to set up an anchor bridle.

This demonstration was conducted on a Lagoon 42.

6 Components of Anchoring

  1. Anchor
  2. Chain
  3. Wind/ Tide
  4. Bridle
  5. Communication
  6. Maneuvering

3 Step Prep

  1. Remote Access – Pull this out of the hatch and place on the deck
  2. No Obstructions – Ensure the bridle or any other gear is out of the way of the chain
  3. Prime the Anchor – Let a tiny bit of chain out and help the anchor over the edge

Amount of Chain

Light wind – 3-4 x Depth

Strong wind (20+knots) – 5-7 x depth

Counting chain length is simply understanding the speed in which the chain drops. (Metres per second).

Communication

Person on the bow- looking out for obstacles and lowering the anchor

Person at the helm – maneuvering the vessel

It is important to discuss strategy prior so both parties understand what the plan is.

* Single handed anchoring is possible with an optional chain counter at the helm station

Anchoring Steps

  1. Check the chart – make sure you understand the contours of the bay you’re entering and find the flat areas. (Keep a look out for shallow unchartered areas).
  2. Decide on a location/ depth – put a waypoint on the chart
  3. Stop the boat
  4. Ensure head to wind
  5. Drop anchor
  6. Move backwards – Only once the anchor has hit the bottom. This lays out the chain and ensures it does not tangle.

How to know the anchor is on the bottom

  1. Depth – (understanding the speed of the anchor windlass).
  2. Sound
  3. Chain sags

When the anchor is hanging the chain is tight across the deck, when it has touched the bottom this becomes loose because there isn’t weight at the end.

How to know the anchor is set and secure

Put the vessel in reverse with a bit of power, putting pressure on the anchor and chain and if it is not set, the anchor will drag. If it is set correctly;

  1. The chain will go tight.
  2. There will be a shallow angle on it.
  3. After easing off the engines the boat will bounce back.
  4. Take a transit on the land using fixed markers. If the alignment changes it means the boat may be drifting.

Bridle Set Up

The bridle creates an artificial bow, spreading the weight between the hulls and moves the centre of effort forward to reduce the swinging while on the anchor.

  1. Hang lines over the bow
  2. Put the hook over a complete chain link and ensure the pin has snapped back into place
  3. Drop chain 5 or 6 metres
  4. Ensure it is at a nice tight triangular angle
  5. Chain hangs vertically, looping to the bridle and reducing the pressure on the windlass.

Lifting the Anchor

  1. Ensure engine is running – this activates the winch
  2. Retrieve the bridle – bring chain up until bridle is on the bow
  3. Ensure the bridle is clear of the chain
  4. Start lifting the rest of the chain
  5. Start edging the boat forward – not to much as you will go over the top of the chain.
  6. Communicate – come up with your own signals so the person on the bow can tell the captain where the chain is so that you are not putting stress on the windlass.

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