More Sail Manoeuvres
Apart from tacking and wearing the ship a number of other manoeuvres
under sails are executed on MIR more or less regularly. Rising harbour
fees and costs for tugs and pilots lead to the decision to stay at
anchor more often or to employ the sails rather than tugs for mooring
assistance. The masters on the MIR execute these manoeuvres with great
skill and experience and it seems as if they were not commanding a 110
m long square rigger but a yacht that is just a little bit big.
Under heaving-to we understand a manoeuvre to stop the vessel but
remain manoeuvrable all the time. This requires a positioning of the
sails where one part of the sails work forward and the other part at
the same time works backwards. Thus the square sails of the fore mast
are braced into by-the-wind position and the square sails of the main
mast are braced into a squared position. The sheets of staysails and
head sails (if set) are belayed in by-the-wind position and the helm is
kept hard to windward.
As a rule the ship lays hove-to on the tack on which the manoeuvre has
been started. So to get there only the wind is taken out of the main
top by bracing her into forewind position and at the same time putting
the rudder hard to windward. Is it for any reason necessary to heave-to
on the other tack, the manoeuvre starts like tacking with the
difference that the rudder is not returned to amidships again and the
main top is not braced fully around but only onto the squared
Hove-to the ship permanently describes parts of a circle forward or
backwards with heading changes of roughly 60° according to
part is the sails is predominant now – the forward working or
backward working. One part of the sails always stands aback. The drift
is minimal but existing. It is necessary to check it regularly and to
make sure that there remains enough open sea room to leeward not to be
driven onto a shallow or into areas of heavy traffic. Good seamanship
is hove-to only to keep the minimum sail area necessary to keep the
ship in position.
For getting underway again it is only needed to brace the main top into
by-the-wind position and put the rudder amidships.
As for the Rules of the Road (COLREG) a sailing vessel that is hove-to
is underway. Thus the bridge must remain manned, a navigational watch
must be kept, VHF must be listened, lookout must be kept and there
needs to be a helmsman ready to take the wheel at any time so that if
necessary the ship can execute an manoeuvre at once.
To find a place for anchoring certain preparations are necessary.
Charts of a biggest possible scale need to be used to find a place that
not only provides ground suitable for anchoring but also the space
necessary for swinging around the anchor. If available this will be
discussed with a pilot or a coastal traffic centre or a place is used
where the ship has been successfully anchored before. Official roads
are not always the best choice as very often they are too far away from
the shore to maintain a shuttle boat traffic or to be seen from the
For anchoring any vessel there are some basic rules to regard:
How is anchoring executed? Let’s imagine we sail full and by
port tacks. To reduce speed we would first take away the uppermost
sails and then also the big and unhandy courses. The idea is that for
the actual manoeuvre we keep only fore staysail, fore lower topsail and
main lower topsail. If the ship looses to much speed there might also
remain one or two jibs. When closing in to the place chosen for
anchoring the rudder is laid to windward (easy, not too much, maybe
10-15°) to make her stop with the bow dead in the wind. The
stands by the braces and at the moment when the ship starts drifting
backwards the yards get braced into forewind position (squared) and the
head sails get thrown off and are taken away. The rudder is laid
amidships. The ship now starts to move backwards. The fore lower
topsail gets clewed up and at the same moment the port anchor is
dropped. When the necessary length of chain (min. 5 times the depth of
the water) is paid out the last remaining sail – the main
topsail is clewed up. All sails get stowed very neatly to reduce
windage to a minimum and the yards get braced into a position where the
wind blows parallel to them.
anchoring manoeuvre is executed with as little speed as possible.
possible the anchor is dropped while heading against the wind.
use the windward anchor.
possible one avoids to anchor while running before the wind.
The ship is now at anchor. As per COLREG she is not underway any more.
However the bridge must remain manned by an anchor watch who makes sure
that she does not drag her anchor and starts drifting. For this radar
bearings or if available visual bearings get checked regularly and the
GPS position is compared with the anchor position plotted into the sea
chart and noted in the logbook. Every hour or in bad weather more often
the anchor chain is checked for vibrations (which would indicate a
dragging of the anchor) and the position of the anchor chain is noted.
During daytime the anchor ball is set in the rigging and during night
time the anchor lights are shown. As a rule additionally the deck
lights are on.
THE ANCHORAGE UNDER SAILS
At anchor the ship turns in according to wind and current. In the best
case we have a strong current with fresh beam winds as it often happens
in tidal waters or river estuaries. If there is also enough sea room
ahead we only need to brace the yards accordingly and prepare the sails
we want to set. Now we start heaving the anchor chain until the ship
stands right above the anchor. Then we set sails and while she starts
moving we heave the anchor. The rudder remains amidships until the
anchor is out of the water. Then a course is announced and steered.
Unfortunately it is not always that easy... If the current and wind
work into the same direction or we have no current at all (Baltic Sea,
Mediterranean) the ship turns in with the bow dead in the wind. To get
underway it is necessary to bear off so that a by-the-wind course can
Let’s again imagine a situation: the ship stays at port
with wind and current on the bow. In this situation – given
is enough sea room – it is best to get off the anchor on port
tacks as otherwise the anchor chain would turn around the bow.
The manoeuvre now begins with preparing the sails which the ship shall
carry later. At the same time we start heaving the anchor chain. When
the chain becomes tight (short stay, 4 points off the bow) the mizzen
sail is set and at the same time the yards of the fore mast are braced
aback. At the moment when the anchor chain is up-and-down (anchor
standing upright underneath the ship) the mizzen sail is hauled close
to the starboard side and the fore lower topsail (in light winds also
the fore upper topsail) is set. The ship turns to starboard. Now the
anchor is hauled up.
Once the anchor is off the ground the head sails get set aback. The
ship first moves backwards. The rudder is laid to port (easy, not too
much). Now the ship turns quickly. The anchor is now out of the water
but kept ready for falling until the ship has left the anchorage and
reached open water. Once the ship is about 45° off the wind the
fore mast is braced around and the rudder is laid amidships. When the
square sails are filling also the head sails are flung to the other
side and sheeted in. All other sails needed are set and the ship gets
steered to the course announced.
A BERTH UNDER SAILS
Leaving a berth without tug assistance is only possible if wind and
current help or at least do not counteract. Without bow thruster one
needs a wind blowing off the berth or at least a current on the bow to
get off the pier. In how far the engine gets employed or is only held
stand-by depends on the wind situation and the space available. For
example in Travemuende July 2003 we had a soft wind blowing from the
berth and Captain Antonov decided to use the jibs to push the bow away
from the pier. He took away all mooring lines except for the aft
spring. Then the square sails were set (the yards had already been
braced into halfwind position) and the aft spring was thrown off. Thus
we left the port completely under sails.
this page was updated 10/07