How to Safely Anchor your Boat!

Boat anchorBoat anchoring requires both skill and a measure of judgement to ensure your boat does not subsequently drift beyond the length of your intended anchorage rope/ chain. The logic is simple, lower the anchor to the seabed with an allowable amount of additional feed, once that feed is taken up as the boat naturally drifts, the anchor feed locks and the boat and anchor starts to drift until the anchor beds itself into the seabed or catches on underwater rocks, upon which the boat ceases to drift beyond the radius of its anchorage.

Anchoring Conditions

Clearly the experienced boater has a better feel both to know when an anchor has properly dug in/ caught, but also to know how much allowable feed to have provided in the first place. The latter is the true art as this requires a multitude of factors to be considered (sea depth, tide, wind speed, vicinity of other boats, seabed floor material).

Critical though is that enough slack is always given to ensure the anchor not only reaches the seabed but that it also has the slack to allow the whole anchor to drag across the seabed floor for a reasonable enough distance to take grip. No slack will likely result in non-anchorage and the potential for hazard... or boat insurance claim!

Beyond reasonable anchor slack, additional insurance (excuse the pun!) can be purchased through utility of a secondary anchor. This may seem unnecessary but if you consider when anchored overnight in the event of a wind/tidal change an anchorage can be lost and thus the boat is dragged in a different direction!

Finally as is probably obvious to most, in order to set sail again the anchor has to be redrawn, in effect what happens however is the tied end of the anchor lifts and thus the grip of the flattened dug in anchor is lost, thus the anchor is simply lifted as the boat begins to reset sail.

Anchoring Tips

  1. Judge enough anchor chain/rope slack for 3-4 times the depth of the water being anchored in.
  2. Anchor where the seabed is likely to allow better purchase for the anchor
  3. Avoid highly rocky crevice areas where the anchor can get jammed (unless you enjoy scuba diving!)
  4. Anchor in protected spots away from large waves, high winds or tides
  5. Ensure the boat can wonder without hitting other obstacles (e.g. in the event the anchor slips due to a wave when fully taught)
  6. Heavy, clay-like sea-beds are best, sand with loose rocks is perfectly suitable also though
  7. You may wish to test the anchorage by slight engine use or sail usage against the direction of the anchorage
  8. Finally, be attentive to changes in wind and/or tide

Choice of Anchorage

Consider a more lightweight anchor that relies upon clever deign and is proven rather than one that just relies upon it's weight. It may weigh heavy to you but in relation to your boat's pull under movement it is still going to be light! A Dan-forth style anchor which is flat triangle-side is very popular 

For smaller vessels you can utilise a aluminium anchor which is truly quite lightweight and thus suited for use by people of all ages and mobility.

Specialist Anchors

There are other choices of anchor for more specialist uses;

  • Mushroom anchors are less reliable but are perfect for soft ground areas and use with lightweight vessels such as RIB's, kayaks or canoes
  • Plough anchors are useful for mooring in areas where currents persist
  • Grapnel anchors are good for mooring in rocky areas.

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