Tutorials

How to Anchor Your Boat

How to anchor a sail boat

We used to spend many a restless night at anchor, and often opted to head to the nearest marina when strong winds were forecast. 😳. Here are a few tips on how to anchor, and stay anchored.

  1. Read up on the anchorage you’re intending to go into before arriving. Will it be busy, is the seabed rocks or sand, what’s the depth, where’s likely to be the best spot given the conditions? savvy navvy’s Navily integration gives details about the facilities, shelter and bottom types for many anchorages.
  2. When picking a spot remember that as well as wind and avoiding a lee shore, to consider waves and particularly the swell. Being violently rocked for hours on end really does nothing for ones sanity, and can make eating lunch and getting back on the boat after a swim a real pain!
  3. Prepare your crew in advance and talk them what you intend to do. Shouting orders isn’t very seaperson-like, and will likely cause people to get flustered. Hand signals are better, agree them in advance.
  4. Scope: 3:1 is your absolute minimum (after setting with your engine), 5:1 is much better and (with a decent anchor) 7:1 is the most you’ll ever need.
  5. Letting out more chain may make you feel safer, but do remember this will make your boat sail around more (giving you a larger swinging circle) and result in higher loads on the system. Laying out too much scope is also inconsiderate as it leaves less room for others.
  6. Always set your anchor with the engine; don’t assume because the boat’s come to a stop you’re set. Don’t be afraid to give the throttle some welly either, if you drag (even just a bit) either reset it or go elsewhere.
  7. If you’re staying the night at anchor and you’re worried about dragging, there are a few smartphone apps available which will alert you if you stray. We’ve used Drag Queen (love the name!) with some success, a Google search for “anchor drag alarm app” will surface a bunch more for iOS and Android.
  8. Be aware that noise carries very well over water so keep your noisemakers down to a minimum, especially early and later on in the day. If your kids are shouting, or you’re running the engine to charge the batteries, it’s very likely your neighbours will be well within earshot.

How to anchor a pontoon boat

If you're going to be using this type of boat, typically in inland rivers or lakes, there are a few different considerations when compared with anchoring other boat types.

  1. Firstly, as is always the case with anchoring on any boat, you should plan in advance where you want to anchor. The conditions and water bottom will have an impact on which type of anchor you'll want to use and you'll need to calculate the water depth to figure out how much anchor rode you will need. You will need roughly five to seven times as much line as the water depth and distance from water surface to cleat all together.
  2. Secure the anchor to the cleat at the point in the rhode where you want it to stop. After this, you need to point your boat head to wind or current, depending on which of the two is stronger.
  3. Once you're ready to drop the anchor put your engine in idle and bring the boat to a stop with the bow just in front of where you want to drop your anchor. Regardless of whether you plan to use an anchor winch or drop one manually, it is really important to anchor from the front of the boat. This ensures your anchor moves downwards and away from the boat as it sinks helping to ensure it will be properly secured to the bottom of the water. If the wind and current are so non existent that the boat doesn't move then place the engine in reverse and slowly edge it backwards.
  4. Another important thing is to maintain tension in the rhode which will ensure it doesn't tangle.
  5. Once you are satisfied with your position, wrap the rode twice around a cleat. After you have felt the anchor digging in, put the engine in idle reverse and back down on the anchor to secure it to the bottom.
  6. Take note of your surroundings and note your boats position relative to a few landmarks. You can check this again after some minutes to make sure you are not drifting.
  7. When departing, make sure to raise the anchor as straight as possible to avoid damaging your boat.
  8. In extreme weather conditions one anchor may not be enough and you'll need to use a second. This should be positioned at the back of the boat but only released once the first anchor at the front is securely in place.

How to anchor a boat in a lake

As is the case when anchoring any boat you'll want to choose a location that is clear of too many other boats. It is also important to plan as different parts of the lake can have different bottoms which are better suited to different anchor types. Try to avoid areas with too many reeds or other dense flora.

For anchoring in a lake you ideally want a sandy or muddy bottom. Since lakes are typically less rough a mushroom anchor is often best suited as the dome like shape will sink down into the sediment and take hold.

Rope is usually fine for anchoring in a lake and a ratio of five to ten times rope to water depth should be sufficient. As with anchoring any boat lower the anchor gently from the bow first. If a second anchor is required lower is secondly from the stern while aiming to keep equal length in both ropes.

How to tie an anchor to a boat

The best type of knot for securing an anchor line to an anchor is the Anchor Hitch or Anchor Bend (these are sometimes referred to as the Fisherman's hitch or Fisherman's Bend)

How to tie an anchor bend knot

  1. Take the working end of the line and pass it through the shackle or anchor ring from front to back forming one or two round turns leaving them open.
  2. Now tie a half hitch around the standing line and pull it tight.
  3. Bring the working end of the line over the front of the standing part and underneath itself to form a second half-hitch.
  4. Tighten it by pulling on both the working end andstanding part
  5. For extra security the short working end can be siezed to the standing part.

See our guide for more useful boating knots.

For a detailed guide on the different types of anchor, their users and selecting the right one we love this article from our friends at discover boating.

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