How to Anchor
Posted on Friday, Jan 5, 2018 | reading time: 2 min
There are few (if any) topics which generate as much discussion, and as much
anxiety amongst sailors as anchoring. 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.
- 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?
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 neighbors will be well within earshot.