Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my dinghy cruising blog about my John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. Built over three years, Arwen was launched in August 2007. She is a standing lug yawl 14' 6" in length. This blog records our dinghy cruising voyages together around the coastal waters of SW England.
Arwen has an associated YouTube channel so visit to find our most recent cruises and click subscribe.
On this blog you will find posts about dinghy cruising locations, accounts of our voyages, maintenance tips and 'How to's' ranging from rigging standing lug sails and building galley boxes to using 'anchor buddies' and creating 'pilotage notes'. I hope you find something that inspires you to get out on the water in your boat. Drop us a comment and happy sailing.
Steve and Arwen

Wednesday 19 October 2011

anchoring off a beach......

has baffled me for some time do I land on Cawsand beach and then not have to stand there holding the boat to stop it going broadside?
I could drop a stern anchor on the way in and then anchor fore and aft....but I couldn't quite work out how that would work. Then some discussion appeared on the JW forum and all of a sudden...some smart ideas started to appear.

Pete kicked it off with a great description which went like this.......

"You will need two anchors unless you have a convenient tree on land.
Fasten a long line (painter) to the bow ring. Attach good block onto each anchor. Reeve the line from the bow through the block on the bow anchor then through the block on the stern anchor and fasten it onto the stern. As you approach shore, drop the stern anchor a reasonable way out and feed out the line from the stern as you approach shore. Disembark.
Now set the bow anchor into the sand (rocks) on the beach. Pull in the line coming from the stern anchor. The boat will be pulled out to sea and the excess line will pass through the block on the bow anchor and go out with the boat.  Retrieve the boat by hauling on the bow line.
This keeps the hull clear of rocks and out of harm’s way. Use good line and check your knots or splices!!"

Then there were various discussions about the merits of pulley blocks versus stainless steel rings versus very large shackles with very smooth interiors............

Then Joel came up with a neat simple solution (one which I really like). In fact he’s detailed it on his own blog at

Then ‘Smilicus’ came to the rescue as well providing us with a very neat diagram (thank you because I had offered to try and draw one out and put it on the blog...but now I am saved the thinking...and feeling somewhat tired and slightly defeated this week, I really appreciate that break).

In fact Smilicus went on to say ...........................

"We used to camp next to a tidal river and we used a system similar to this to change the position of our boat (reel in to board at high tide or move the boat further out at low tide. It worked pretty well and you could almost get in without your feet getting wet.  The System - drop your anchor in deeper water with enough anchor chain and a  small length of rope. At the end of the rope secure a good quality marine pulley. Then you create a loop of rope with two hook clips on (boat length apart on that loop - to clip you boat on to)
Then there is another anchor on the beach with a line that is connected with a pulley to the loop. This way you can reel your boat in and out from the boat or from the beach. If in the boat, you use the other side (the side where no hook clips are) to cleat it off at the correct position you want your boat.
It sounds complicated, but once you set it up once it is a piece of cake."

.The blog of Smilicus can be found at

So there we have it. A cool, simple to use system, which can be used for those short beach picnic stops. It will work well off the shingle beach at Cawsand I think; or over at Barn Pool near Mt. Edgecumbe...or perhaps off one or two of the beaches at East Portlemouth over at Salcombe. I’m looking forward to rigging this system and trying it out sometime. I always carry two anchors in Arwen so it is a case of getting sufficient quantity of good quality rope to form the loop...oh and some really large, smooth stainless steel shackles I guess.

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