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Skipper’s Tips

Stopping the Flopping: Use an Anchor Bridle to Keep Your Boat From Rolling – Rolling around in a greasy anchorage with the wind from one quarter and the swell from another, now that sucks!  There are several busy anchorages that suffer from this problem: Cooper Island usually is at the top of anyone's list.  But St Thomas Bay outside of Spanish Town is another as is White Bay on JVD.  The overall champ has to be the anchorage just outside the Wickham's Cay breakwater in Road Harbour.  Not for nothing is it known to the charter crews as Seasick Bay.

While it is very difficult to completely eliminate the discomfort of rolling around all night like a trainee astronaut looking for a zero G-spot, there are some tricks you can use.

 

One possibility is to set up some kind of flopper stopper device that creates resistance as the vessel rolls from side to side.  Many power trawlers have a boom out to one or both sides with a sort of open crate or wooden slats that open as the boat rolls to that side and then close, creating resistance, as the boat rolls back up.  Some sailboats hang an anchor and a big pile of chain off to one side and held out by a whisker pole, to act as a counter-balance, though there is the risk of getting tangled.

A better method, one that can be used when anchoring or taking a mooring, and whether on a mono or a cat, is to run a bridle from the anchor chain aft to a midships or even a stern cleat.  Be sure to let out masses of slack anchor chain after you've attached the bridle—especially on a catamaran, so the chain won't rub against the bottom of the windward hull.  By adjusting the tension on the bridle, you can pull the vessel around to where it is sometimes beam-to the wind but bow-to the swell.  Use a rolling hitch to attach a long dock line (if necessary, tie a couple of lines together for length) and then run it back to a cleat or through a chock amidships.  You might even need to grind it in on a winch.  This is effective in the Caribbean where the wind is generally from a steady direction and there is little current.  Where there is current you run the risk of fouling the bridle and uprooting your anchor.

 

A similar method is simply to run an anchor from midships or the aft quarter off to one side or the other and pull the vessel around so that it sits cocked to the swell and not to the wind.  This does mean you have a fair bit of ground tackle laid out which may inconvenience your neighbours.  It is also wise to consider that you present a good amount of windage should the breeze pipe up in the night, increasing the possibility of dragging.  You might have to keep an anchor watch, but then the rest of the crew can sleep while only one or two crew are up and keeping an eye (or more likely dozing in the cockpit.)  Just remember, without taking such remedial moves, every one of you would be up and feeling froggy—all green and croaky.  

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