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Article by Tor Pinney                                                                                                                                        Back to List of Tor's Tips


© 2011 Tor Pinney - All Rights Reserved


Picture your boat anchored, bow to a northerly breeze. A surge begins rolling into the harbor from the west, striking her on the port beam and causing her to roll uncomfortably. Things start sliding off the counters and pretty soon your mate wants to go home. Now imagine the effect of turning the vessel 90-degrees to port so that her bow is facing into the waves rather than into the wind. The rolling ceases, replaced by a barely noticeable fore-and-aft pitching motion. Life aboard returns to normal and the mate agrees to stay.

To accomplish this you could set out a stern anchor to the east or northeast and adjust the fore and aft anchor rodes until the boat faces west. This isnít a bad solution, but itís a lot of work and your boat will no longer swing to wind shifts with others anchored nearby.

Instead, try springing the rode. Simply tie a long dock line to the primary anchor's rode at the bow using a rolling hitch. Then lead the line aft, outboard of the bow pulpit, stanchions, and shrouds, to the cockpitís starboard sheet winch. On a center cockpit boat pass the line through a stern quarter turning block before bringing it to the winch. Finally, pay out the anchor rode about ĺ of a boat length and take up on the spring line with the sheet winch until there is equal pull on the rode and the spring, the two forming a V-shaped bridle to windward. The boat will lie broadside to the wind, facing the swell.

You can adjust the vessel's heading for other angles of wind and swell by shortening or lengthening the spring or the rode, thus turning the boat incrementally. With a little experimentation you'll soon master this simple, useful technique.

A few more pointers:

  • If the wind is much above 10 knots, scope out the anchor rode 10:1 (length to depth) or more before attaching the spring line. The anchor might need the extra holding power with the boat lying broadside to the wind.

  • If the waves are abaft the beam it may be easier and equally comfortable to face the stern into them rather than the bow.

  • Remember: To turn the bow to starboard, run the spring line to the port quarter. To turn to port, use a starboard quarter spring line. Reverse the rule to aim the stern into the surge.

  • If the wind picks up and you feel uneasy about the strain your boat's beam-on position is putting on the anchor, you can instantly return her bow to the wind just by releasing the spring line and walking it forward (slack) to the bow. Untie it from the rode later when you weigh anchor.

  • If the breeze dies altogether, deploying a stern anchor may be the only way to hold your boat end-on to the waves.

  • When a surge has you rolling at anchor, give your boat, your crew, and yourself a break. Spring the rode!


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