As part of getting around the BVI, a sailor is going to have to moor his vessel at the end of the day. With the busy season upon us, a mooring ball is never a guarantee, so today we're going to discuss a facet of anchoring that doesn't always get proper attention: the secondary, or auxiliary, anchor.

Often when the day is drawing to a close, panic besets the newbie charterer. Suddenly the sky is darkening rapidly, and there are no more mooring balls available. There might be a spot to drop the anchor off to the side of the mooring field or deep into the head of the bay. The Bight on Norman Island is a good example of this. A concern might be that whilst there is good depth to anchor, there are sharp-toothed rocks or an upgrowth of coral close by one side of the boat or the other.

Wouldn't it be great if there were a tree growing on the side away from the obstacle that you could tie the boat to and keep it from swinging? Well, there is. On every boat there is such a tree, or at least an equivalent—the secondary anchor, usually of the Danforth type. By placing it in the position most useful in the given situation, whether off the bow, abeam, off the aft quarter or dead astern, the secondary can secure the vessel from drifting onto a rock or a similar hard place.


The easiest way to deploy the secondary is to first set the primary anchor with appropriate scope and then place the secondary into the dinghy and motor in reverse to the chosen spot, paying out the nylon rode as you go. Drop the anchor gently rather than try to hurl it, this way the chain won't twist so much, and take up the slack in the rode from back on the charter yacht. Scope isn't quite so important as with the primary anchor, though try for at least a 3:1 ratio.

By tying a separate line to the secondary's rode by way of a rolling hitch, you can further fine-tune the orientation of your vessel. If you have deployed an anchor off the bow as well as a secondary off the beam, the third line from say, the secondary's rode to a stern cleat, can point the yacht into a swell to reduce rolling. In fact, anywhere you can visualize a useful tree, that's where your secondary should be. Now go practise that rolling hitch.