Anchoring around Coral

Each year sailboats cruising in the Tuamotus get into trouble at anchor: they get trapped on lee shores after a shift in the wind direction, foul their anchor and/or chain in coral and the results are stressful manoeuvres to get the anchor back up, bent bow rollers and ruined or even ripped out windlasses. Of course the fragile coral structures get badly damaged with each of these messed up manoeuvres. Isn’t an anchorage with colourful coral and fishies much nicer than a dead rubble field?

It is easy to avoid damage to the coral and your boat if you

  • anchor in conditions with good visibility (don’t drop your anchor blindly)
  • anchor in shallow water: 1. you can see the bottom, 2. there are usually fewer coral heads on the sandy shelves and 3. you require less chain
  • try to find a big, sandy spot to drop your hook
  • float the chain so that the boat can swing around in shifting winds without getting the chain caught in coral heads
  • keep an eye on the weather forecast and move to a safe anchorage before the wind shifts

Floating the chain is a simple procedure. You just need

  • 2 medium sized fenders
  • 2 carabiners that fit into your chain
  1. Drop the anchor in the middle of the biggest sandy spot you can find
  2. Pay out chain while reversing gently
  3. Look around at the surrounding coral heads to estimate the swinging radius and hook in the first fender before the chain could touch any of them.
  4. Pay out some more chain and set the anchor gently pulling in reverse.
  5. If the scope is still not sufficient, a second fender can be added followed by more chain.

Enjoy the Tuamotus!

The principle of a buoyed chain (click for larger image)

Approaching the next anchorage. Two fenders with carabiners are ready on deck. (click for larger image)

Hooking in the 2nd fender (click for larger image)

Floating chain (click for larger image)

1 comment

  1. Norbert and Rosi says:

    Hi guys!
    We are also on a tour again. If you depart on a true course of 002.92° and follow it for 3605 NM you will arrive at our present location (Cambria, CA). We are looking out of the window onto the ocean and imagining where we would find you if we followed a straight line.

    It is so good to read that you are both doing well and that you are enjoying the south pacific. Those flight to and from Austria must have been very strenuous – consider that we are already complaining about the 11 hour flight to San Francisco:-)

    Have a safe commute over into the Tuamotus in a couple of weeks!
    Greetings from California
    Norbert and Rosi

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