This blog is devoted to my John Welsford designed 15' Navigator yawl Ellie. I built her in my garage over a period of 18 months and launched her in 2011. She sports a sliding gunter main, roller furled jib and sprit-boomed mizzen. Her construction is glued-lapstrake over permanent bulkheads and stringers. This blog is a record of her construction and her voyages here in the Puget Sound area and (hopefully) a useful resource for fellow Navigator builders.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Nearshore Anchoring using an Anchor Buddy

Ellie and friends using their Anchor Buddies at Fossil Bay, Sucia Island State Park, Washington
What is an Anchor Buddy?

Simply put, the Anchor Buddy can be thought of as an anchor rope that stretches. It allows you to anchor your boat about 35 feet offshore, in water deep enough to keep it safe from rocky beaches, boat wakes and wind. Its stretchiness allows you to pull the boat to shore (stretching the Anchor Buddy), where you can board, depart, or load and unload gear. When you’re finished, the Anchor Buddy retracts, automatically pulling your boat back out to deeper water.  The Anchor Buddy also allows many boats to anchor close together without bumping into each other, as you can see in the photo above.
The anchor buddy is constructed of 3/8 inch diameter surgical tubing surrounded by a woven poly outer sleeve. The tubing stretches like a bungee cord while the outer sleeve limits how far the cord can stretch (to prevent breakage) and provides great strength when the Anchor Buddy is stretched to its maximum length.
Rigging the Anchor Buddy

The Anchor Buddy connects between your anchor chain and rode. Here you can see the setup I use on my 15’ John Welsford designed Navigator yawl.

My anchor is shackled to 10 feet of ¼ inch chain. The chain is connected to one end of the Anchor Buddy (yellow). Additional Anchor Buddies can be connected in series if desired, with each additional Buddy providing an additional 35 feet of stretch. An anchor swivel is attached to the other end of the Buddy, followed by 100 feet of 3/8 inch nylon rode. When anchoring close to shore, I find that 100 feet of rode is nearly always sufficient, but I also carry along an additional 100 feet of rope in case I need more, and for use when anchoring out in deeper water.
Deploying the Anchor Buddy

To deploy the Anchor Buddy, begin by slowly motoring, rowing or sailing towards the shore so that you can survey it. The ideal shoreline will be devoid of large rocks or other dangers, but will also have a nearby tree, log, boulder or something else to tie your anchor line to.

When you get approximately 100 feet from shore, begin lowering your anchor to the bottom, and pay out line as you slowly approach the beach. When you arrive at the shore, exit the boat taking the remaining anchor rode with you. Begin pulling on the anchor rode. As you continue pulling the rode, you will feel the Anchor Buddy stretching. Continue pulling until the Anchor Buddy is fully stretched to its limit and the anchor will begin to set. Pull as hard as you can to ensure the anchor is fully set. Release the anchor rode and allow the Anchor Buddy to fully retract. Take the bitter end of the anchor rode and tie it to a tree, log or boulder, removing all slack from the anchor line without stretching the Anchor Buddy. Finally, return to the bow of the boat. Pull the anchor rode again until the Anchor Buddy is fully stretched. Cleat the anchor rode to a bow cleat. Give the boat a gentle push off the beach and watch as the Anchor Buddy retracts and pulls the boat 35 feet offshore.
What if there’s no tree, log or boulder to tie to?

If there’s nothing convenient to tie to, you will need a beach anchor, sand anchor or spike anchor. These come in a variety of styles. If you carry a secondary anchor, it will work perfectly well.  A compact solution that works well in sandy beaches is this auger style called a Tie Down Mate.
Tie Down Mate beach anchor
Coming and going

After deploying the anchor, suppose you want to do a little fishing, or participate in a sailboat race. Once you are set up, you can easily come and go without retrieving your anchor. Simply pull the boat to shore, climb onboard, let the Anchor Buddy pull you out, untie the boat and off you go. When you return, beach the boat where you anchored and get out. Pull the anchor line in, tie to your bow cleat and let the Anchor Buddy pull your boat out.
Dealing with tides

The areas where I sail often have tidal ranges of 13 feet or more. They also have shallow beaches that are less than 13 feet deep at 35 feet offshore. That means there is a good chance that my boat could go dry at low tide, possibly suffering damage. There are several ways to avoid that. One way, mentioned earlier, is to daisy chain two or more Anchor Buddies in series. Each Anchor Buddy will place the boat an additional 35 feet offshore. Another way, if the weather, your schedule, and the bottom conditions safely allow it, is to let the boat go dry until the tide comes back in.
Only allow boat to go dry at low tide if it's safe
Yet another way is to occasionally move the boat closer or farther away along the anchor rode as needed. If the tide is going out and the boat is getting too close to shore, re-adjust it by un-cleating the rode, stretching the Anchor Buddy to its limit, and re-cleat it. Conversely, if the tide is coming in and the boat is getting more than 35 feet offshore, re-adjust it the same way.
When I sleep overnight on my boat, I always ensure that I won’t go dry at low tide during the night. To do this, I climb onboard, untie the anchor rode from the bow cleat, pull the boat well offshore and re-tie it there. Then I set up my boom tent and enjoy a worry-free night’s sleep.  I can pull myself back to shore whenever I need to.

According to the manufacturer, the Anchor Buddy is intended for temporary anchoring/mooring only. It has a 4000 pound capacity which far exceeds the weight of my cruising dinghy. I have used it for many years and I am confident using it overnight, especially considering how the boat is also anchored to shore. For increased confidence, a 45 foot long line can be connected alongside the Anchor Buddy. This will keep the anchor attached to the boat if the Anchor Buddy were to fail, while still allowing it to stretch and function normally.

If you’re ever in the Puget Sound area and you see a small yawl anchored in a cozy cove, there’s a good chance it will be me, and my “Buddy”.


  1. Good description, Joel, thanks! I got one of these for Christmas and am looking forward to trying it out... -- Dave

  2. Hello Joel, I would like to thank you for such a tremendous resource that your blog site and photo journal of Ellie's construction have become for those of us who aspire to build our own Navigators. I hope you won't mind me asking a "how to" question regarding how you assembled the centerboard case. John's plans call for #10 screws from the inside for the packers and doublers along each foot of the case, did you screw them both at the same time or separately? Any tricks to keeping the pilot holes lined up while covered in epoxy?

    Thanks again,

    Geoff Adams

    1. Thanks, Geoff. I glued and screwed the doublers and packers to the outside of each CB case side. Then I glassed the insides of both side pieces. Then I glued and screwed the sides to the end pieces. If you've downloaded my photojournal, take a look at slide #30. I didn't use the bolts shown on the plans. Instead I used lots and lots of screws, with JohnW's blessing.

  3. Thanks, I believe that you are a master epoxier as I didn't see any indications of screw heads on the outside of the packers and doublers and assumed ( you know where always get us) you put them all through from the inside. Perhaps I'm making more of this than is needed.

    Thanks again, appreciate your rapid reply!!!