The Top 5 Anchoring Tips

What five anchoring tips rank right up there as the most important for sailing safety? Follow these five super sailing tips before you drop the hook. Gain peace-of-mind that your boat anchor will keep you and your crew safe and sound–wherever in the world you choose to cruise!

Choose Three-Sided Protection

What makes a great anchorage? Surround your boat on at least three sides with shelter–similar to a garage. Wind and seas can change direction. For example, you may get to your anchorage and set your anchor with wind blowing from the North. Listen to the marine weather forecast. If the wind will later shift to the East, choose and anchorage with protection to the North and East and South. That way, you are protected through the zone of expected wind shift.

Know Your Sea Bed!

How do you know if your anchor will stay put, or drag along the bottom? Study your nautical chart before you enter any anchorage. That includes anchorages that are recommended. Take the time to learn the chart symbols that tell you the type of sea bottom. Some bottom types, like rock, grass, or kelp offer poor holding ground, and you can bet you won’t sleep too well. Other bottom types, like clay, hard mud, or sand are better for your anchor to “hook ‘n hold”.

Choose an Anchor “One Size Up”

Look in an anchor guide like a marine catalog. Find the table of recommended anchor sizes based on the length of your boat. Slide over to the next larger boat size and choose your anchor from that table. No matter what the catalog says, pick an anchor one size up from that recommended. That will give you an edge for heavier weather, crowded anchorages, and better peace-of-mind.

Carry Two Anchors of Different Types

Think of anchors as three shapes: fork, plow, and claw. Fork-type anchors like the light-weight Danforth (or the similar design, but more modern “Fortress” anchor) are popular and hold well in softer sand, mud or clay. But in harder bottoms they have a hard time getting a bite. So, no matter the type of anchor you choose, select a second type to back it up. Choose two different types of anchors so that you can match the anchor to the bottom, wind, and sea conditions. For example a Danforth and a CQR (fork and plow), or CQR and Bruce (plow and claw).

Use Enough Scope to Hold Your Boat

Put out enough anchor line and chain–or all chain, so that the anchor rode (anchor line and chain) stays close to the bottom. You want the anchor rode to bend from the boat to the bottom. This keeps the lower part of the rode almost horizontal to the sea bed. This will insure you anchor stays dug in. Use a scope of 7 feet of anchor rode to each foot of water depth, corrected for high tide. For example, if you arrive at an anchorage at low tide with a water depth of 12 feet, and high tide will rise another 8 feet, you should put out at least 140 feet of anchor rode (12 feet + 8 feet = 20 feet X 7 = 149 feet).

Use these anchor tips to keep your sailboat and sailing crew safe and sound. Gain the peace-of-mind you need for anchoring in any sailing weather–wherever in the world you choose to cruise!

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