Tips to anchor your boat safely
On this post we will tell you some tips to anchor your boat safely, paying attention even to the small details.
One of the most important skills that a sailor should have is anchoring properly and safely. Even though in theory seems pretty easy, the real truth is that this process is very tricky, complex and it is needed a lot of expertise and practice to do it the right way. It doesn’t matter how long you have been sailing, anchoring is always serious, delicate and complicatedespecially if you are planning to stay overnight.
You can find books written about how to anchor your boat the proper way. But, if you don’t have enough time to read all that, on this post we will tell you some tips to anchor your boat safely, paying attention even to the small details like the type of anchor you can have and how to anchor the best way possible.
The most popular types of anchors
There are different types of anchors with different shapes and sizes, but the most popular are the sand, plough and reef anchor. Each one has a unique shape and it is used for a specific situation.
Reef anchor: these anchors are specifically to temporary anchoring. They don’t anchor into the ground, but instead they grab onto other things, like rocks or corals. This is why they shouldn’t be left unattended and even less overnight. It is the perfect anchor to move around, anchor and then come back.
Sand anchor: these anchors come in different sizes and weights depending on the size of the boat. There are by far the most common used anchors and they are perfect for sand or mud. This one work perfectly in any situation and it can be used for staying overnight.
Plough anchor: these ones are very similar to the sand anchors, but this ones are designed especially for heavier boats. They have retrieval eyes so you can remove them easily if snagged. This one is also perfect to leave unattended or overnight if wanted.
Every anchor has a different technique and we could talk about different ways to anchor each one of them. However, there are basic steps to do it and we can share some tips that can work on any anchor type.
Tips to anchor your boat properly
Some basic knowledge can help you to anchor your boat easily. This can go from the type of bottom you will find, type of anchor, chain length and so much more. Take a look at these tips:
Before you go out, it would be a good idea to research about the bottom of your destination. Your plotter or chart can show you this information and the best plan is to go prepared. Common bottoms are mud, sand, weed and clay, and you can use different anchors for this. For sand or mud, you can use anchors like Danforth. For rocky bottoms you can use plow anchors. And, for grass or weed, it is recommended to use the heavier anchors.
Choose the right size
Something extremely important is to have the right size of anchor. As we mentioned before, there are different shapes and sizes, and you should take in consideration how big your boat is, the displacement and the hull type to choose the right anchor size. You can find a lot of information from the anchor manufacturer, but for example, for a 32 foot displacement boat, you could use a 25 pounds CQR.
Another important tip is the length of the rope or chain. An all-nylon rode, it doesn’t matter if it is braided or twisted, is perfectly fine for a light anchoring. You can also add up to 8 feet of chain between the shank and the rode. But, if what you want is to stay overnight, then you need a chain that is one-half boat length. This will improve the anchor’s power because the chain will set the anchor and also lower the angle of pull. Even if there is a lot of shock from wind or bad sea conditions, the chain will help to absorb the impact.
Lining up the right way
When you are lining up, do it with two landmarks, this will make easier to put the boat in the right place. You can use your GPS, radar or depth sounder to control your position all the time. This way, if you keep control of your position, you can be completely sure that you are not moving the anchor. Also, check the hook set and make sure that it is perfectly cleat, then run the rode through chocks to guarantee that your deck equipment won’t get swept by the rode.
Enough space between boats
If you are alone in the anchorage, then you have the freedom to take as much space as you want. But, if there are other boats, you need to make sure to pick the right spot for you and leave enough space between boats. Big boats swing slower but have a bigger arc, and boats with much windage like sailboats will swing faster if there is high winds. Make sure to respect the space to avoid complications.
With all these tips, joined with the basic knowledge on how to anchor properly, we guarantee that your anchoring skills will improve completely. Once you know very well these small tricks, you won’t have more issues or doubts at these moments, and you can feel more confident while doing it. At the end, a lot of practice and experience will make an amazing sailor. More about anchors>>