Kedging from the masthead...


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Bill Balme
Bill Balme
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I 've read in various places, of people that get stuck on a sandbank or rock with a falling tide, opting to kedge out an anchor from the top of the mast using a halyard - thereby leaning the boat over and shortening the draft of the boat and freeing her of captivity...

Does it work?

My masthead is 63ft above the water. Draft is 6 '6". Granted I 'd have a lot of leverage working, but if one estimated a need for a (minimal) 3 to 1 scope to provide sufficient traction, I 'd need to attach the halyard to a rode that is 150ft long (plus the 60ft available from the halyard). Of course, if the water is deeper where I 'm dropping the anchor, that rode length would have to go up more. I don 't have a (readily available) 150ft length of line to kedge off with - so by the time I dug it out of the secondary anchor locker, the tide would probably have dropped too far!

My other concern is that the maximum length of rode that can be used to set the kedge, is restricted by the length of the halyard... as soon as the shackle reaches the sheave, you 're done...


Your thoughts appreciated... Am I missing something? or perhaps mis-reading stories of kedging off using a halyard...

Why do I ask this? It occurs that if this is a useful ploy, that it would be helpful to have an extra long halyard going up the mast - and sure enough, the previous owner of our boat did indeed install a very long (double length) halyard. Was it for a possible kedging arrnagement - or was it to enable a 2:1 halyard arrangement? (Whatever, it 's a Royal PITA storing all that line at the mast!)

Bill Balme
s/v Toodle-oo!

David Tyler
David Tyler
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I think this comes into the category of Useful Ploys that are so seldom needed that you forget all about them in the heat of the moment. It would take so long to set up as to be too late for normal kedging off (I 've just been re-reading Riddle of the Sands, feeling for poor Carruthers as, many times a day, he gets into the dinghy, and runs out the kedge and warp quick, before Dulcibella sticks. A matter of minutes in many places, not only in the Friesian Islands). I 'd try and remember it if I got neaped on top of a bank, and nearly, but not quite, floated at the top of a tide.

How about shackling a block to the halyard, and leading the warp through that? Then you have no halyard length restriction, and you can hoist the block as high as is needed, but no higher, keeping the scope needed to sensible proportions.
cverlaque
cverlaque
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Yes, it works. We have used this method on I Wanda atleast a couple of time, successfully. I Wanda is a 40 ft Camper Nicholson and the mast height is 51 ft above water. I had a halyard who was about 60 ft from the top down (though, by splicing an other line you may use any length of rope which is longer) and we used a 3/8 nylon rode (about 200ft if I remember right) hooked up to a fortress FX 17. The water was not very deep, but with the dinghy i deployed the halyard/rode/anchor as far as possible and as tight as possible. I went in the water and was able to set the anchor by hand. The fortrss hooked up right away and it did not take many turns of the winch before the boat was on its side gliding over the bottom to deeper water.
Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
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Aleria once took a mooring block for a walk across the harbour into shallow water in a blow (another reason we don 't trust moorings). As the tide started running out, we knew we had to keep her off the rocky shore. She has an 8.5 foot draft and 60 foot mast. We tried setting a kedge anchor and running the rode to the winch but that wasn 't enough. So we used a spare rode kept in a deck locker for stern anchoring attached to the halyard, although we did not use an anchor. A friend came to assist in a RIB and when he hauled on the rode she popped right over on her side and out into deeper water. It was amazing. She didn 't have a scratch on her except for a scrape off the antifouling. I am convinced that it would have worked with an anchor, though with greater difficulty.

We do have an extra long halyard. The reason for it was not for kedging but rather to have extra length in case the halyard chafes at the mast top, which ours did do mid-Atlantic several times. It was on the advice of a well respected rigger in America, and we are grateful to him for that suggestion. It saved us several trips up the mast mid-ocean. Fortunately, we do periodically drop the sails to check for chafe while on crossings.

Vice Commodore, OCC 
Dick
Dick
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Dear Bill and All,                  3 May 2015
We have used a masthead arrangement to get off a grounding. Once we needed to bury the portlights before we pulled off a bunch of rocks on a falling tide (we needed to tape closed breather outlets etc.). Daria is correct to observe that another variation (much less work! and much faster) is to hail a passing boat, even a dinghy with a moderately sized engine, and have them pull a line from the masthead. It is amazing how little effort is needed, if done quickly with the correct leverage.
A couple of considerations: On our boat we use the spinnaker halyard. Its lead is good from athwartships. We take a large snatch block to the masthead with the rode already in it, down to another large snatch block and to our windlass (primaries are the second option). Do not allow any crew to get within the bight of the rode when under pressure. The energy stored in the nylon rode will be substantial and blocks do explode as do securing points for the blocks.
If you find you need more rode, let the bitter end of your longest rode go to the masthead when putting out the anchor at the furthest possible amidships location and pull it down with a messenger line. The initial loads are not much so a modest line will work fine.
If another halyard must be used, one that exits in a fore or aft direction, it would be wise to place chafe protection on the line (many tapes will work fine) where it will exit the mast. Without this the halyard will likely part at the worst possible moment because of the poor lead, contributing greatly to one’s woes. Also 2-block the halyard, bring the halyard up very tight against its exit point at the masthead to mitigate chafe inducing movement while bringing in the anchor rode.
As to scope, the scope will change dramatically as the masthead comes down nicely allowing the loads to increase together with increased capacity for holding.
Being prepared is important. Snatch blocks need to be substantial to tolerate the loads. Deck attachments must be considered (most aluminium toe rails will not be up to the task) and leads to your winches/windlass thought through. The kedging anchor must be light with a short amount of chain and a lot of rode (for our 40 foot boat, the kedging anchor is a Fortress FX37 (aluminium) with 12 feet of 5/16 inch G4 chain and 300 feet of 5/8 inch braided nylon). All of this (or most) must go into the dinghy for deployment as dragging it out from the ship is unworkable with a dinghy. It is also possible to deploy by tying onto a fender with a slip knot and swimming it out.
Those who wander widely know that this sort of preparation is necessary for the time when (not if) this technique is needed.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy, Lerwick Scotland
Bill Balme
Bill Balme
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Dick and All:

Thanks for the responses - I was missing the use of the snatch blocks - Duh!

I imagine that when setting the anchor it 's best to have the block on the end of the spinnaker halyard at about deck height - to facilitate a good set and then raise the block to take up tension and start the kedge.

When the boat starts to heel, I would think there will be quite a lot of twisting moment, tending to bring the bow out first, so am I right to think that as the kedge goes on, the helmsman will be using judicious amount of engine power to balance the boat? (Not even sure that works...)

Regarding the helpful rib... this proved to be our downfall last year in Lagavulin - a helpful rib turned up while I was making a second attempt at kedging us off the rocks... In the heat of the moment, I foolishly gave them a line to the bow and they successfully pulled us off forward - but in the process, the rudder sustained damage, bending the shaft just sufficiently to jam it hard against the hull. All completely my fault... We did however get to spend the following 5 weeks in Scotland cruising - albeit by car - while a new rudder was flown in!

Cheers!

Bill Balme
s/v Toodle-oo!

Dick
Dick
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Hi Bill,
Having the motor on while well heeled over is likely problematic. Most engines will not tolerate more than 25-30 degrees of heel, some even less. And you also get into water intake issues. I would say that I was over 60+ degrees when we got our portlights in the water.
As to twisting moment, that is likely determined by whether your boat is a sloop or cutter. My experience is on a yawl and we came off sideways. My present boat (a Valiant) is a cutter so the mast is almost amidships so there I would think I would slide sideways. I believe, if memory serves, Outbound’s (I have always admired their design) are double headsail sloops so you may be correct to think that they will wish to go forward as well as sideways as the mast goes over and draft decreases. With a rib, you could direct them to pull aft of amidships to mitigate the twisting moment.
I believe also that Outbound’s use Lighthouse windlasses. These are extremely powerful and, properly led, can drag a bow around or pull a mast down easily.
Different boats would get set up differently. My spinnaker halyard is not lead to a winch so getting it, a snatch block and the rode to the mast head after setting the anchor might be a challenge. But I think your suggestion is good.
Are you still in Scotland? We are in Lerwick at present.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy, Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland
Bill Balme
Bill Balme
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Sadly back in the US after a wonderful cruise last year through the Baltic.

Enjoy Scotland!

Bill Balme
s/v Toodle-oo!

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