- Operations - Method among the maddening crowds

By Swiss Ocean Tech

Method among the maddening crowds

Suzy Chisholm, Swiss Ocean Tech co-founder, on how the art of anchoring needs to be reconfigured to continue to sustainably enjoy increasingly congested spaces…

According to The Superyacht Agency, our global waters are home to more than 9,000 superyachts, each longer than 24 metres. Most seek their own secluded harbour, paradise or preferred spot, primarily during the sunniest months.

This burgeoning number diminishes once-enjoyed freedoms, even before considering vessels shorter than 24 metres, of which there are approximately 30 million. With increasing regulations in the Western Hemisphere, the golden age of unbridled yachting seems a distant memory. Finding an unfrequented spot, while ensuring safety and flexibility, has become a significant challenge.

A story I heard recently illustrates this point. A 48-metre superyacht hoped to anchor in a secluded bay in the Mediterranean. Upon arrival late one evening, two other boats had already settled. Attempts to persuade these boat owners to relocate using the allure of fine wine were unsuccessful. As night fell, and the winds picked up, one boat’s anchor began to drag, leading to a night filled with risks and restless hours.

The unpredictability of weather, coupled with varying skills among sea-farers, is unsettling even for seasoned captains. While tools offer valuable insights into safe spots, nature’s unpredictability can necessitate swift alterations to plans. The consequences are severe; damage to superyachts, or injuries, can be both financially and emotionally devastating.

The growing number of vessels also leads to congested marinas. As boats grow in size, berths suitable for superyachts become scarcer. Progressive marinas are now offering sustainable moorings, which both protect the seabed and also provide some degree of privacy.

In the Mediterranean, anchoring within 30 to 40 metres of the shore, where Posidonia meadows are located, can result in fines starting at €15,000. Research indicates that anchors from yachts exceeding 24 metres cause significant damage to these ecosystems. Balancing the influx of seafarers with environmental conservation is a tall order. Clearly, the era of the free-spirited sailor is evolving.

However, there are alternatives for yacht owners; whether it’s exploring lesser-known destinations, reserving moorings in advance or harnessing technology to support busy crews, the emerging challenges can be tackled effectively.

Innovations such as AnchorGuardian, a cutting-edge system, deliver real-time data during the anchoring process, minimising risks of groundings, collisions and ecological damage. While anchoring remains a time-honoured skill, its modernisation is certainly welcome.

AnchorGuardian module + swivel

As the captain of a 42-metre superyacht succinctly puts it: “I am interested in anything that will shift my anchoring from reactive to proactive.” Proactive anchoring places control firmly in the captain's hands, rather than being merely a reactive measure.

AnchorGuardian is the world’s first system using sensor fusion and advanced algorithms to monitor a ship’s anchor position and absolute movements. This tech offers captains and crews intelligence throughout the anchoring procedure in real time.

The system streams continuous data to a bridge terminal, keeping crews informed about anchor hold, minimising drag risks by offering immediate, failsafe anchor dragging alarms with sub-metre accuracy, and predicting anchor hold.

Undeniably, our seas are busier and the landscape of yachting has grown more complex. However, with an open mind and the adoption of innovative solutions, the cherished yachting lifestyle can continue to thrive.

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Swiss Ocean Tech Ltd

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Method among the maddening crowds


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