Anchor without rancour

by Jax on September 6, 2013

Now that summer’s over – and sitting here in the rain this morning, after the enjoyable mini heatwave we experienced last week it kind of feels that way – it will probably be a while until we can enjoy idyllic nights at anchor again.

We were fortunate enough to be able to spend a handful of peaceful nights anchored in beautiful locations this summer (the upside of there having been too little wind to sail at times). Photographs of boats lying tranquilly in a sunny anchorage make it look like there’s no better place on earth to be….but before we can transcend to this zen like state where we can relax and reflect on a successful day with sundowners in the cockpit, we need to anchor without making a meal of it.

Regardless of the size of boat, add in some wind and the noise of the chain on the windlass and it can get quite difficult to communicate effectively, misunderstandings can arise leading to fraught moments and perhaps choice words between skipper and crew (or helm and anchor if you like). I find that once you raise your voice to be heard – or someone gets frustrated because they can’t hear you and raises their voice (let’s not say ‘shout’ we’re trying to maintain some decorum and professionalism here) blood pressure and stress levels tend to rise in tandem with the volume.

And, for those who like to be in control of everything at all times, (I’m not naming any names….) having to cede an area of responsibility can prove quite trying. Some people seem to think that no communication means that they’re missing out on something – no, it just means there’s nothing you need to know!

A particular favourite example of this is when I have to stop the windlass because I can’t hear what I’m being told:

‘what did you say?’
‘I said, keep going!’

We have trialled a series of hand signals with limited success. In a straightforward situation this just about suffices, but if the anchor doesn’t set or you seem to be dropping back too close to another vessel, you are still reduced to bawling at each other and disturbing those who are already enjoying the peace and quiet (who would undoubtedly have anchored in a very efficient and seamanlike manner).

Somehow the idea of sharing cockpit cocktails in splendid isolation doesn’t seem quite so appealing anymore.

Salvation came to us in the form of these handy gadgets aptly named ‘Marriage Savers’, which the geek came across while surfing the internet looking to be enticed by things on which he could blow our cruising budget.


Here’s the tech bit (in a low tech girl speak sort of way); The headsets operate on two AM radio frequencies, enabling both parties to talk and listen (multitasking in action!) at the same time (hands free). They’ve got an adjustable headband and a flexible antenna and are battery operated (9V). That’s about it…nothing complicated, even an idiot girl can use them – but remember to switch them off before you put them away or next time you want to use them they will be useless (operator error, that will never happen on board Vagaris – again ;-) ) (Adrians note: we’ve since invested in a bunch of rechargeable 9v batteries)

So now whilst the chain’s paying out you can chat to him about the weather, tell him you can see the pub from here, or pass comment on other boats in the anchorage if there’s nothing he needs to know. It’ll make him feel needed and in control.

Additionally, these headsets are even more indispensable for communicating with someone up the mast. Up the mast, fitting bird spikes. Headset for easy communications.We usually find as soon as you slip into the bosun’s chair you attract at least a few onlookers. In terms of viewing figures for boating activities it probably comes a close second to watching people moor up, so you don’t need to attract more attention to yourselves by hollering up or down the mast – usually a much greater distance than bow to stern.

And though you might look as though you’ve lost your helicopter it’s worth looking a tiny bit silly for a few minutes for the satisfaction of getting the job done without putting any stress on your vocal chords.

Unfortunately, ‘Marriage Savers’ are not currently available in the UK, but thanks to the wonder of the internet you can still get hold of them via Cruising Solutions:

Cruising Solutions

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