A Windy Arrival

The wind was stronger than normal when the MS Nordnorge arrived in Bodø today. Check out that wind heel :astonished: He must have been very sure about the holding ground to even consider that maneuver.


If Ikke tilgjengelig utenfor Norge means what I think it does, most of us are SOL.

Very impressive ship handling using the anchor with two sots of chain out to make a broadside downwind landing. It looks like about 50 knots of wind to me.

Yeah that looked intense! Balls of steel on that skipper

Yes but I wonder how it is done. Specifically how is the required skill split between wheelhouse and the bow?

My guess is the crew member on the bow controlling paying out the anchor chain is using his own judgement in this maneuver. If that’s being done correctly without requiring direct commands from the bridge that would simplify the operation.

Never mind – it worked the second time. :slight_smile:

I watched the island ferry come into Pothia on a very windy day, about as bad as in the video. They pulled the Greek stern-to in a stunning display of perfect coordination, touching down with the ramp smooth as ever, the crew almost looking bored. I suppose there would have been some verbal contact with the bow, but the guy on the winch clearly knew precisely what to do at every point. I doubt he needed telling.

1 Like

I don’t have much experience here but it looks like in this case the bow has the more positive control of landing angle. The bridge just needs to keep wheel and power steady (more or less) and let the mate control the landing.

I could very well be wrong but it seems control of the landing by rudder/prop would suffer from longer control delay. It’s going to be less precise.

It seems similar to using a spring to spot a barge. The mate on the barge can absorb and smooth out what the person on the bridge is doing with the throttle. Within reason anyway.

I don’t read Norwegian, but I could see 30-35 mps down a ways in the article which is 58-68kts. Those gusts looked at least 60+.

1 Like

In the article it says they already had the anchor down when the wind hit, so they didn’t volunteer to do it.

1 Like

I was tempted to say 60 knots, but given how easy it is to over estimate, I went with 50 knots. I don’t see 60 knots very often, even in Alaska.

1 Like

It looks like she has two bowthrusters. I’m assuming she’s twin screw. I’m not sure if she had the same amount of chain out all along, or if more chain was paid out as necessary to check to bow.

I could imagine the mate being told: “do whatever it takes to keep her coming in flat.”

I could also imagine the captain giving orders to put out specific quantities of chain as needed.

However, I certainly don’t have any experience doing something like that with a ship.


I read it the same way. From Google translate: Since the ship had already dropped the anchor, it was now “point of no return”, the skipper says. We just had to leave it and use the engines for everything they were worth.

The captain may have intended to anchor until the wind subsided but when it wouldn’t hold, he improvised and used engine power combined with the dragging anchor to control his approach to the pier. Whether he planned it from the beginning or improvised, it’s a fine bit of seamanship that could have turned out a lot worse.


Yes, I’d agree with that, maybe a bit understated.
To me the term “shiphandling” implies a one man show.

That too. But evidently captain and crew were ready for that day. That’s good seamanship as well.

A very nice landing.

When I’ve used the anchor for maneuvering, the question was always this: how far off from the dock do you drop the anchor?

There are two tactics that I know of for maneuvering with an anchor;

  1. You drop the anchor with a little chain, so that it just drags across the bottom but moves with you, controlling the bow, or,
  2. You put out a lot of chain, and the anchor digs in. It will control your bow–until you run of chain. If you have enough chain, it can help you get off the dock later. Good to have, in strong winds.

The trouble with Tactic 1) is that the anchor will snag anything on the bottom as it drags its way toward the dock, including (in my neck of the woods) gurry outfall pipes from fish processing plants, and decades and decades of crab pots (the 6x6x3 type). Later someone has to hang from a bosuns chair with a cutting torch to cut the pots off the anchor flukes. Yay.

The problem with Tactic 2 is judging where to drop the chain. If you drop it too far from the dock, you won’t get alongside the dock, and your stern might crash into it, or you might find yourself swinging at anchor, your stern just a few yards from the dock.

This happened to me only first voyage as captain, which happened to be on the maiden voyage of a boat coming out of shipyard after a major renovation.

I dropped the chain out too far. I understood my error pretty quick, and ordered the chain up. At which point the newly installed hydraulic piping, apparently welded by an escaped circus baboon, burst in the engine room. The chief engineer was drenched in oil. Thus, an injury now too. So I ended up at anchor, the stern slowly swinging in the wind a few yards from the dock. Very embarrassing. I forgot how we got the chain in. My mind has blacked out the memory after all these years.


The radar is your friend. Just set the VRM at whatever you’re comfortable with, to be on the safe side I tend to use length of chain minus depth, and drop the anchor when the VRM has passed your intended mooring location. I suppose on big boats you’ve got to account for the length of the hull, but then again on big boats you have bow radars and whatnot. I guess you could also use markers on the ECDIS to much the same effect.

As for making it almost to the dock, I know your pain much too well.

You could always med-moor stern to the pier and pretend that was your plan all along. I say that in jest, but if I recall correctly, there are some car ferries in the Med that do dock that way. Then they drop the stern ramp and drive the cars right off.

It’s been posted before and it’s great example of excellent ship handling/seamanship. I like how the guys on the landing are getting the job done with no fuss while sometimes standing in knee deep water. Med mooring is also common practice most everywhere in the Med as docking space is at a high premium.

I’ve only done this twice but I have spend considerable time watching small ships moor with the anchor in the med. Come in, drop the hook, turn and moor facing out to sea. Standard tie-up, not the Med moor.

If I had to this now I’d drop the anchor around 1 1/2 ship lengths out. Dragging the anchor on the bottom for control, when the brake is full on I’d want the chain to be about 30 degrees below horizontal, however much chain that works out to.

The crew on the bow can control the force from between letting the chain hang vertical to bar tight. A good landing would the crew adjusting within the range of a moderate catenary.

That more or less is what can be seen on the video in the OP except mostly tight chain because of the very strong winds.

Mate on the bow needs to understand what’s going on.

When the weather is like as shown I remember how lucky I was to be an Engineer, sitting with my coffee in the control room of a ferry while the Old Man was on the bridge wing, hat on backwards, towel round his neck, fighting his ship alongside. On MV Lion we picked up a car on the anchor, that took a bit of work to remove.