Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik Isotak Ocean

Entering an unfamiliar bay - decision time

by Nancy Knudsen on 14 Jul 2014
To enter or not to enter - that is the question SW
You thought it would be a day trip, but there have been unforecast contrary winds all day and they are building. The crew is exhausted, and, as skipper you have decided there's a need to do something different. It'll be getting dark soon. There's a deep gulf ahead, an unfamiliar one, but it promises rest and a good night's sleep. You checked and you have charts. Should you go in? Here consider the options:

You can go into this unfamiliar anchorage, risky because of the unknowns that might be there, or you can head to sea, into deep water, hove to if necessary, or just potter along, leaving just one person on watch for the night. Except for the watch keeping, the crew will be fresher in the morning, and ready to persevere to the destination.

First, take a little time to make the decision and, perhaps, depending on the crew, discuss it with them. DON'T do anything hasty:

The arguments for entering/ not entering the anchorage might include:
1. The lure of a 'good night's sleep'. This is often so compelling that the risks are not thoroughly assessed.
2. The tidal situation. If there is a channel, check the tides and make sure you can enter on a slack or rising tide.
3. The visibility. Foggy conditions should be a significant deterrent.
4. The clarity of the water. If the water is clear, a crew on the bow will be excellent help on entry as the water becomes calm.
5. Sunshine on the water. If the promised anchorage is to the west, even with someone on the bow and clear water, visibility below the surface may be compromised.
6. Even with a westerly entrance, depending on the shape of the bay, it may be possible to enter without the sunlight directly in front.
7. Heading out to sea into clear water is never as attractive as the lure of a good sleep, but often it is by far the safest option. Consider it carefully.

After considering all these issues, you have decided to 'go for it' and enter the unfamiliar anchorage. Here are a few tips to make the entry safer:

1. Keep your main or, depending on the wind, other sail, ready. Do NOT put your sails away. Consider what might happen if the engine fails just as you are entering.
2. Have your electronic handheld sounder at the ready to test the depths.
3. Get out the old-fashioned leadline - just in case the electronic one fails.
4. Don't, under any circumstances, depend on your electronic charting system. (It will certainly help if you have determined the offsets and adjusted the system accordingly.) This is one time when looking out the window is essential.
5. However, do set your electronic charting system to mark the waypoints of your line of entry every few metres. This will allow safe exit in any conditions either during the night or first thing in the early morning when the light on the water is flat. This is your fool-proof escape plan - to escape precisely in the same way that you entered.
6. Let the anchor settle for at least an hour before allowing exhausted crew to go to bed. If it won't set in this unknown seabed, you may have to depart again.
7. Set your anchor alarm, and set an anchor watch for the night.

However, there's many a long-experienced cruising sailor who would rather go to sea any time, even in a storm, than risk the unknowns of close quartered manoeuvring. Further, at night many find going to sea the preferred option no matter the conditions.

It's always the skipper's call.
Wildwind 2016 660x82Naiad/Oracle SupplierX-Yachts AUS X4 - 660 - 2

Related Articles

AMSA marine notice – Importance of using official nautical charts
This notice draws attention to the importance of using official nautical charts to comply with flag State requirements. Official charts are those issued by or on the authority of a government, authorised hydrographic office or other relevant government institution.
Posted on 24 May
Line 7 Marine presents Squadron II jacket in time for SCIBS
The Squadron II Jacket is now on shelves and has been designed to keep the wearer on the water for longer. The Squadron II Jacket is now on shelves and has been designed specifically to keep the wearer on the water for longer. It’s crafted from 100% waterproof fabric, with a high level of breathability for extra comfort and pulls together a host of extra features.
Posted on 23 May
Old4New Van notches up 100,000km and 20,000 lifejackets
Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey today announced the Old4New life jacket programme Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey today announced the Old4New life jacket programme had exchanged more than 20,000 old lifejackets for new ones, spreading the ‘wear a lifejacket’ message.
Posted on 23 May
Nineteenth blog from on board Perie Banou II - Panama Canal Transit
Still at Shelter Bay Marina Colon. Atlantic end of the Panama Canal. But not for long. Still at Shelter Bay Marina Colon. Atlantic end of the Panama Canal. But not for long. Shelter Bay is the natural meeting place of lots cruising yachts. Their tall masts and rows and rows of furling headsails. Most American and European. Friendly bunch.
Posted on 17 May
Zip up, step out – Top technical jackets
Zip up, step out – Top technical jackets Zip up, step out – Top technical jackets
Posted on 11 May
Eighteenth blog from on board Perie Banou II - Colon, Panama
Perie Banou is tied to the relatively new Shelter Bay Marina. Colon. Good Marina. With services, some modest. Colon remains, as with previous years, a dangerous city. But it is much cleaner and getting better. Perie Banou II is tied to the relatively new Shelter Bay Marina. Colon. Good Marina. With services, some modest. Balboa is the port for Panama City on the Pacific Ocean. The other end of the Canal. If one looked at a map or chart of all of the Americas and one wanted to cross from the Atlantic to th
Posted on 10 May
Seventeenth blog from on board Perie Banou II - Panama
I am back on the high seas. Left Nanny Cay Marina using engine, motored to Norman Bight, Norman Island, BVI. I am back on the high seas. Left Nanny Cay Marina using engine, motored to Norman Bight, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands. In quiet weather, sailing, motor sailing, or motor boating I can clip the tiller on (quick easy). Then clip the Simrad electronic tiller pilot. Then I steer electronically.
Posted on 4 May
Servicing winches for a longer, more efficient life
A question we get asked often is all about winch servicing and how often should this be done and how hard is it. A question we get asked often is all about winch servicing and how often should this be done and how hard is it. We thought we might try and answer the most common questions and put people’s minds at ease as to how it's done. How often should you service your winches?
Posted on 3 May
ANMM welcomes first European artefact to appear on Australian soil
ANMM is excited to welcome the first European artefact to appear on Australian soil, the Dirk Hartog Plate Just over four hundred years ago Dutch mariner Dirk Hartog (1580–1621) sailed into history when, on 25 October 1616, he made the first documented European landing on the west coast of Australia. And this week the Australian National Maritime Museum is excited to welcome the first European artefact to appear on Australian soil, the Dirk Hartog Plate, to Sydney on special loan
Posted on 3 May
Debbie says the 8thP with Insurance is Patience (Pt.III)
We’re back to keep exploring the nature of TC Debbie and how she came to tell us about the eighth P of insurance We’re back to keep exploring the nature of TC Debbie and how she came to tell us about the eighth P of insurance. We’ve looked at what it was like to come into a disaster zone, seen the evidence of those that did the right thing, and how the area is already on the road to recovery. Now we’ll see why patience is the key in the aftermath of her fury.
Posted on 30 Apr