Anchoring with Side Waves

Learn how to stabilize the boat when anchoring with side waves

Anchoring off the Capri Coast

Have you ever tried anchoring with side waves coming from a different direction than the wind? If you had, you would remember it. If you can’t remember, then you haven’t done it.

Basically, the experience is ‘unpleasant’ (i.e., “sucks”). The boat becomes a 3-axis milling machine – it is rolling side to side while going up and down while yawing side to side all over – there is no way anyone is getting sleep. Things slide around the boat and dishes and glasses clang together along with wine bottles clinking. One time for us, a watermelon rolled off the shelf and bounced down the stairs only to smash sticky juice everywhere at the bottom of the stairs. Try to clean that up with your head down and not get seasick!

Even with relatively small waves as in the picture above, the set can be annoyingly uncomfortable.

So here is a simple trick that we learned from our friends at SVN Magazine that will bring the bow around to point into the waves rather than into the wind. While it does not stop the wave action up and down, it settles the boat from rolling and yawing.

The animation below shows a boat at anchor with the waves rolling through from the side. Click the “Learn the Trick” button and the “Next” buttons to incrementally watch how you can bring the bow around to point into the waves instead of the wind.

We are giving credit for this tip where credit is due – SVN Sailing Magazine is a FREE online magazine we totally recommend. Signup here now for the FREE subscription! In addition, you will receive sailing videos produced by SVN Magazine with other tips. They are NauticEd Endorsed.

The basic premise is the following: with the anchor already secure on the bottom, tie a long line (“warp”) about twice the length of the boat first to the anchor rode using a rolling hitch knot. Then take the warp on the lee wave side of the boat to the stern making sure the warp runs outside of lifelines and shroud lines. Tie to a cleat at the stern. Now ease out more anchor rode (about a boat length) so that the warp travels out with the anchor rode. Now pull on the warp from the stern bringing the aft of the boat upwind so that the bow now faces the waves.

Nighty night! Sleep tight!

If you liked this amazing trick, learn hundreds more by taking NauticEd sailing courses. Select from over 20 online sailing courses and visit one of our many practical sailing schools or private instructors for on-the-water training.

NauticEd (Nautical Education) is an officially recognized sailing education body under the American National Standards EDU-3 as created by the US Coast Guard. This makes NauticEd the premier sailing education body in the USA as well as an internationally respected training company. Yacht charter companies and port authorities worldwide accept the NauticEd certifications and SLC license.

Below is a video on how to tie a rolling hitch.

My vision for NauticEd is to provide the highest quality sailing and boating education available - and deliver competence wherever sailors live and go.
Grant Headifen
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Last updated on June 9th, 2022