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Anchoring in a fast tidal flow - the Bahamian Mooring System

by Des Ryan on 18 Nov 2013
bahamian moor 3 SW
Sailing writer Des Ryan tells of his recent experience, a first time Bahamian Moor. He here shares his experiences and what he learned as a result: I just finished anchoring in Crookhaven River, where the tidal flow was amazing. This underlined the value of the Bahamian Mooring technique, which I had never used before. It proved fantastic. What is it? Read on...

This is defined as anchoring on two anchors, one of which is normally positioned in front of the boat, and the other which is positioned, usually about equidistant, behind the boat. This method is used when anchoring in strong, tidal currents which reverse every six or so hours especially when you are planning on staying several days or longer, which we were.

Here's how to do it:
Anchor with your first anchor normally. Then let out a little more than twice the scope.Drop your second anchor - off the front of the boat.

Now pull your first anchor’s rode back up to its normal scope while letting out the second anchor’s rode. Make sure that the rode on the anchor behind you is not going to catch in the prop and give yourself a little gentle forward momentum to start setting the stern anchor. Let the boat settle back and do it again, until you are satisfied.

The vessel will now swing in the middle of two anchors, excellent in strong reversing currents, such as a six hourly tidal change. ( However, a wind perpendicular to the current may break out the anchors, as they are not aligned for this load, so this would not be a good situation.)

Also, if others in near you in where you intend to anchor are anchored with anchors in the Bahamian fashion, you can soon work it out that it is imperative that you do the same.

But there's one more step. Every time the current reverses, the boat turns around, and eventually the two rodes can be twisted so badly you can’t undo them.

Problem no problem, what to do - there are two solutions:

Solution 1:

Cleat the aft anchor rode off back from the bow a few feet, if you can do this with your boat setup (I can). Take up the slack on both rodes until they are almost ‘clothes lined’ and they will ride along one side of the hull near the front of the boat and the boat will turn only back and forth, not round and round. Using this method, it is also easy to see if one of the anchors starts dragging - the aft rode goes slack. It usually isn’t a problem because that strong current just keeps digging the anchors in more deeply.

Solution 2:
Again, the first anchor is set normally, but before you start, attach a heavy swivel in the mid and another chain that will make the direct link to the boat, so you have a sort of 'T' shape. This means that your anchor chain doesn't get tangled. Finally, start the motor and try my system at low throttle at first and then at full throttle (forward and backwards and in all directions).

Marking your anchors with buoys is also a good idea to let others know where they are, but I didn't do this in the Crookhaven.

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