The RYA’s former Yachtmaster chief examiner, James Stevens answers your questions of seamanship. This month, how would you cope with another boat anchoring too close?
Tom is skipper of Binnacle, a Contessa 32 which he has been cruising with three friends.
They have just completed a 90-mile overnight trip and are arriving in a sheltered bay in late afternoon.
The plan is to anchor, go ashore in the dinghy for victuals and dinner at a local café, then back to the yacht for a well-needed early night.
It’s a popular bay for anchoring so Tom is delighted to find a spot close to the beach where there is plenty of shelter but deep enough to stay over low water.
There is about half a knot of tidal stream parallel with the beach and a 10-knot breeze in the same direction.
Binnacle is lying steadily head to wind and tide as the crew go ashore.
The crew return at about 2000 to discover that a 15m light displacement motor cruiser, Thrust, has anchored just ahead of Binnacle, with its transom almost over the position of Binnacle’s anchor.
Unlike Binnacle, Thrust is shearing from side to side on her anchor warp.
While there is no danger at the moment with wind and tide together, Tom knows there’s trouble ahead when the tide turns.
Binnacle will be tide rode, but there’s no telling which way Thrust will be lying and a collision is likely.
The bay is now full of anchored yachts.
Tom takes the dinghy over to Thrust to ask the skipper if he would mind moving further away. There is no one on board, they are all ashore.
The tidal stream turns in an hour.
On return to Binnacle the crew suggest going ashore and finding Thrust’s crew or securing the inflatable dinghy alongside Binnacle as a large fender or putting Binnacle’s helm over to sheer her away from a collision or even boarding Thrust and moving it themselves.
What would you do?
This is a really annoying situation.
Binnacle has a tired crew who need sleep and Tom has anchored in a seamanlike place which has become unsafe through the inconsiderate action of the motor yacht.
They could wait until the motor yacht crew return and suggest they move but it could be confrontational.
Setting an anchor watch to monitor the situation is another possibility, but if the yachts drift together, which they probably will, it’s going to be a long, tiring night with most of the crew on deck.
In general, if a yacht ends up anchored in a place where there could be difficulties ahead, the only solution is to anchor somewhere else.
In this case it’s going to be a pretty aggravating move, probably to a less sheltered and less comfortable spot, but at least Tom and his crew will have a better night’s sleep.
Everyone arriving at an anchorage has a duty to anchor clear of other vessels.