Camilla Ransom
Written by
Camilla Ransom

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.

  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?
  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 neighbors will be well within earshot.