CHAPTER 6—Seaplane Operations – Landings


Anchoring is the easiest way to secure a seaplane on the water surface. The area selected should be out of the way of moving vessels, and in water deep enough that the seaplane will not be left aground during low tide. The holding characteristics of the bottom are important in selecting an appropriate anchorage. The length of the anchor line should be about seven times the depth of the water. After dropping the anchor with the seaplane headed into the wind, allow the seaplane to drift backward to set the anchor. To be sure the anchor is holding, watch two fixed points somewhere to the side of the seaplane, one farther away than the other, that are aligned with each other, such as a tree on the shore and a mountain in the distance. If they do not remain aligned, it means that the seaplane is drifting and dragging its anchor along the bottom. The nautical term for when two objects appear directly in line, one behind the other, is “in range” and the two objects are called a range.

When choosing a place to anchor, think about what will happen if the wind shifts. Allow enough room so that the seaplane can swing around the anchor without striking nearby obstacles or other anchored vessels. Be certain the water rudders are retracted, as they can interfere with the seaplane’s ability to respond to wind shifts.

If anchoring the seaplane overnight or for longer periods of time, use a heavier anchor and be sure to comply with maritime regulations for showing an anchor light or daytime visual signals when required. [Figure 6-8]

When leaving the seaplane anchored for any length of time, it is a good idea to secure the controls with the elevator down and rudder neutral. Since the seaplane can rotate so that it always faces into the wind, this forces the nose down and reduces the angle of attack, keeping lift and wind resistance at a minimum.


Mooring a seaplane eliminates the problem of the anchor dragging. A permanent mooring installation consists of a heavy weight on the bottom connected by a chain or cable to a floating buoy with provisions for securing mooring lines. Approach a mooring at a very low speed and straight into the wind. To keep from overrunning the mooring, shut down the engine early and let the seaplane coast to the mooring. If necessary, the engine can be started again for better positioning.

Never straddle a buoy with a twin-float installation. Always approach while keeping the buoy to the outside of the float to avoid damage to the propeller and underside of the fuselage. Initial contact with the buoy is usually made with a boat hook or a person standing on the deck of one float.

While approaching the mooring, have the person on the float secure one end of a short line to the bottom of a float strut, if one is not there already. Then taxi the seaplane right or left of the mooring so that the float on which the person is standing comes directly alongside the buoy. The free end of the line can then be secured to the mooring.

Exercise extreme caution whenever a person is assisting in securing the seaplane. There have been many instances of helpers being struck by the propeller. On most floatplanes, the floats extend well in front of the propeller arc. Eager to do a good job, an inexperienced helper might forget the spinning propeller while walking forward along the float.

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