We Anchored Beam-To After The Gale

By Rich

After the gale passed yesterday, we found the breeze shifting to the west and easing somewhat, blowing around 20 with gusts to the upper 20s. With the right shift we found a terrible problem with swells bending around the northern corner of the island and coming to violently roll us on the beam. Some months ago Brian send me a link to a YouTube video showing how to rig a “swell bridle” for this situation. The technique involves tying a long line to the anchor chain with a rolling hitch, running it aft to the transom, and then easing out the chain enough that effectively you wind up a gigantic bridle that will hold the boat in the direction you choose (based on how much chain you let out from the bow). We decided to try it out, and it worked great! We were able to point the bow straight into the waves and be far more comfortable even though the waves coming off the Sound were so big they actually caused the boat to pound lightly on occasion! Check out the results in these videos:

Look how smooth the ride was:

A couple of caveats with this technique. First, because you expose more surface area to the wind, turning the boat beam-to imposes higher loads on the anchor, so it’s best to try this only in moderate winds with plenty of leeward sea room should you drag. Second, we recommend rigging a “retrieval line” tied with a rolling hitch OUTSIDE of the fairlead to the stern line so it can be dumped in an instant and brought forward in an emergency (such as dragging). It’ vital that the line be able to run free and that it not wind up in the water where it could get caught in the prop. Here’s a photo of our retrieval line rig:


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