While many boaters take the task of “anchoring” their boats for granted, there is a bit of ‘know how’ to it. In fact, there’s more that a few things that all boaters should be made aware of when it comes to anchoring their boats safely.
The following are a few ‘tips’ to help you achieve just that.
Know your surroundings
1. Before deciding where to drop anchor, slowly cruise the anchorage to ensure you have room to swing clear of other anchored boats. Common courtesy is to anchor downwind of vessels already anchored.
- Allow adequate room around the spot where you wish to anchor. Remember that power vessels swing differently than yachts. Boats with rope rodes swing more than ones with all chain rodes.
- Place a deckhand on the bow to help see into the water for sandpatches or good bottom. This person is responsible for faking anchor rode on deck in in preparation for the drop.
- A small buoy on the end of the line (tied on at the shackle between rode and anchor chain to lift chain off the bottom, will lessen shock and take full advantage of chain’s weight).
2. Slow down and keep the bow into the wind or current, (whichever is stronger) and as headway stops, start to lower the anchor.
3. As boat moves backwards, keep the rudder securely amidships (NEVER let go of tiller or wheel when backing down.) Let strong wind or current carry the boat back, or back down easy in light conditions.
4. Let out about a 3:1 ratio (anchor rode length : depth high tide) of scope before snubbing off momentarily to straighten the rode. Continue paying out rode to a 5:1 ratio to set it a second time, and 7:1 for the final set as space allows.
- Use a trip line of 3/8-inch nylon attached to the anchor’s crown when anchoring in areas known for fouled bottoms to help pull it free.
5. In case the engine fails to restart, do not switch off the engine until you are sure the anchor is set (holding firm). Use buoys as reference points if they are available or, if close to shore, use prominent landmarks to check you are holding your position.
6. Once anchored, secure your anchor rode with the chain stopper or secure to a deck cleat or bollard with a hitch that is easy to cast off and won’t bind under pressure. Do not anchor off your winch.
- A small buoy kept handy can tied off to the end of your anchor rode should you need to slip your anchor in an emergency. You will then be able to recover your anchor & rode later.
7. Check your position frequently when at anchor to monitor drag.
How to tell when your boat anchor is dragging:
1. Use a range by lining up any two landmarks on the beach. If the landmarks do not stay lined up, the anchor is dragging.
2. Use compass bearings to a landmark(s). If the bearings change, the anchor is dragging.
3. Use your bare foot on the chain or rode to feel vibrations and the jerky movement of the anchor being pulled along the bottom.
4. If the boat swings beam to the wind, the anchor is likely dragging.
5. Be vigilant during periods of dramatic wind or current shift.
Article courtesy of Michael Reardon