You need to check on your (up to date) chart to make sure there are no restrictions in your chosen area.
It could be that there are restrictions because of underwater cables, pipe lines and the like, but there are also an increasing number of areas where there are restrictions for ecological reasons.
In some places mooring buoys will have been sunk to allow you to stop without having to disturb the delicate bottom with your ground tackle, use them in a first come first served manner.
But even if you do not intend to use your anchor, the skill is an important one which you need to master just in case the unexpected happens.
For larger boats, there are two basic categories of hook, those which are best for anchoring in sand and mud and those better suited for hooking on to rock.
Anyone who cruises outside their own area would do well to carry at least one of each along with the appropriate rode for each.
There so many different types of anchors available it is impossible for me to describe them all.
And I would hesitate to recommend anything on the strength of their advertising copy. I did once buy an aluminium version of the danforth on the strength of the manufacturer’s claims, it was certainly light and it looked the business but I found it almost impossible to set.
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You Save: $2.00Boater may seem to be conservative when it comes to choosing their anchors for good reason, their boat and even their lives may depend on them.
The ones I shall describe are the most popular for the simple reason that they have been tried and tested over many years and proved to work.
Having decided on the type or types of anchor to carry the next consideration is what size will be suitable for your boat.
The weight of your anchor will depend on the size of your boat and its holding power is its ability to withstand the force exerted by your boat before breaking free.
While the larger and heavier the hook the more holding power it will have, this must be weighed against your ability to lift it and haul it on board.
Below are some suggested weights for the four main types of anchor, but when in doubt it’s always worth going one size larger.
|Boat length||CQR - PLOUGH||DANFORTH||FISHERMAN||BRUCE|
|6M - 20ft||15lb||15lb||9kg Z||5kg|
|8M - 26ft||20lb||15lb||12kg||7.5kg|
The Plough/Plow is my own particular favourite.
It is best suited to sea-beds such as mud, sand and shingle.
This is popular on sailboats and trawlers as it is a very durable hook, easy to stow, set, has considerable holding power and is resistant to breaking loose when the boat swings.
The CQR is a trademarked version of the plough which is made to very exacting standards. This is considerably more expensive than many other versions but it is quite simply the best.
| They provide great holding power for their weight
however, they do have a tendency to trip or break loose when the boat
swings, which is a concern when anchoring overnight.
While they will hold in rock and coral they can sometimes be difficult to retrieve intact.
If the danforth is damaged such as having its flukes bent it will lose much of its holding ability.
Those made by the Danforth Company themselves seem to be of the best quality particularly those marked H, for high tensile.
This is the traditional shape of anchor suitable for all types of seabed particularly rocky and weed covered areas.
Most have a folding stock which allows for ease of storage.
They don’t seem to be so popular on recreational craft anymore, perhaps because they are heavy or maybe just old fashioned.
The Bruce is one of the newer designs but one which has gained a reputation for versatility and providing good holding power.
It was originally developed for use on oil rigs in the North Sea.
It is best suited to sand but also works well on rocky beds however, it is not so easy to set when it comes to grass and weed.
The Bruce is almost indestructible and is very resistant to breaking loose when the boat swings.
The folding grapnel is a handy choice for small dinghies, rowing boats and the like as an occasional short term anchor.
As they fold up quite neatly it is worth keeping one in you dinghy just in case.
All of the anchors described also need chain on the rode to weight the shank of the anchor down so that it lies on the bottom and sets properly.
Some sturdy galvanized chain will also help to resist any abrasion.
If using a combination of rope and chain, the chain needs to be at the very least the length of your vessel.
While I prefer to have an all chain rode, some prefer to have some nylon rope to help absorb any shocks from surging which could cause the anchor to break out.
sure that the bitter end of the rode is securely affixed to the boat
before dropping anchor. Otherwise, you could lose your
whole ground tackle.
If you have an all chain rode, you must have the bitter end secured to the boat with something which can easily be undone or cut in an emergency such as a length or rope.
It should also run freely in the anchor locker and through the hawse pipe.
Galvanized chain will need a suitable primer before painting, then a nice big splash of your favorite color.
While you have the paint out why not paint your hook as well, it will make it easier to spot down in the murky depths.
If you are going to use a windlass your chain will have to be calibrated and you need to make sure to choose the appropriate one for your windlass.
The table below gives suggestions for appropriate rope and chain sizes.
|Boat length||Chain size||Rope size|
|6M - 20ft||7mm - 1/4inch||10mm|
|8M - 26ft||8mm - 5/16inch||12mm|
|10M -33ft||8mm - 5/16inch||14mm|
|12M/40ft||10mm – 3/8inch||16mm|
There are several situations where having an anchor weight or ‘buddy’ can be beneficial.
When it starts to blow, or you are caught out on a lee shore and all your chain is out the extra weight will help overcome any lift exerted on the anchor.
When anchored in a crowded bay, it may not be possible to let out enough scope.
It will also help resist any sideways shearing by keeping more of the chain dragging across the bottom, help dampen any snubbing effect and help reduce the swinging circle.
The weight should be suspended from rode so that it is off the seabed at all stages of the tide.
It should be attached to the rode with a large shackle or
something similar which will allow it to be easily attached and slide
up and down the rode and adjusted with the control line.
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There are a number of things to be taken into consideration when choosing an anchorage.
The weather and sea conditions, is there sufficient shelter and will it remain sheltered during your stay and should it change is there an alternative plan.
Will there be sufficient depth of water during your stay and within your swinging circle.
The state of the tide and the strength of flow or any other current strength.
Wind strength and direction, while boats will normally lie to the wind this may be affected by the tide or current strength.
The nature and condition of the sea bed, this can be found on the chart.
Are there any local hazards such as cables, rocks or fishing nets.
The position of any other vessels in the area, is there sufficient room to lay enough scope and swing.
Take note of where the other boats warps are lying and try not to foul them.
If you intend to go ashore how far is it and is there a suitable safe to land.
The scope is the amount of anchor rode paid out when a boat is anchored.
The length of scope should be determined to cope with the greatest depth of water over the length of your stay, depending on the state of the tide.
The very minimum length for an all chain rode should be four times the distance from the bow roller to the seabed.
With a combination of chain and rope the scope should be longer say a minimum ration of 5 to 1.
The more scope let out the better the anchor will hold, a ratio of 7 to 1 is a very reasonable length.
If the wind gets up increase the ratio accordingly but be aware of the increase in the swinging circle especially in a crowded anchorage where everyone else may be letting out their chains.
Not all boats will react the same way, different hull configurations may cause some boats to swing out of unison with their neighbours.
Be aware that the depth registering on your depth sounder may be the depth under the keel, it will depend on how your sounder is set.
If this is the case the height from the keel to the bow roller must be added to the sounded depth at high tide before working out the scope.
Once you have chosen you spot it’s always a goad idea to slowly motor around check the depth and have a good look around and try to visualize where your boat will end up once all the scope is out.
Make sure that everything is free and ready to let go, flake out, on deck sufficient rode and cleat off the bitter end.
Then head up wind or into the current put the engine into neutral and as she comes to a halt lower the hook to the seabed.
Then as you go slowly astern let out approximately a third of the rode, snub the line around a cleat to start the anchor digging in.
Once you see and feel the tension on the rode as it digs in, feed out the rest of the rode while still in reverse.
When it is all out make sure it is properly set by increasing the power in reverse for a few moments.
If she doesn’t set you will have to haul in and restart the entire process.
Before you switch off the engine take a few bearings on some shore objects, preferably transits just to check that you are not dragging.
Make a note of these so that they can e checked any time during you stay.
If you intend stopping overnight remember to rig an anchor light.
My own preference is for a good old fashioned hurricane lamp hung just above the bows, this needs to be a good quality one which won't blow out overnight if the wind should get up.
An oil lamp will not drain the batteries and placed low is more likely to be seem by any boats entering the anchorage in the dark.
When you are in an area where there isn't enough room to swing you will need to set a second anchor off the stern.
The simplest method is to set your bow anchor first and make sure it is deeply planted.
Then, fall back, at least three times the needed scope, while feeding out the rode, drop the stern anchor then as you let out the stern warp haul in on the forward rode until you are in between the two.
You could drop the stern hook first but be very careful not to foul the propeller with the warp.
Most boats will, when lying to one anchor end up facing into the wind, this is usually the most comfortable position.
However, there may be occasions when there is a strong current or tide pushing the boat off the wind, in this case you may be more comfortable lying at an angle to the rode.
This can be achieved by either moving the warp from the bow roller, then hanging it to one side or by running a spring from the chain to a cleat amidships.
Normally the weight of an all chain rode or the elasticity of the rope will dampen any shocks from surging, however, if this does become uncomfortable a snubber can be rigged to take the strain.
If the wind does get up or is expected to you may feel the need to drop a second hook from the bows.
This should normally be set at an angle so the boat when settled is riding equally between the two.
You will probably need to feed out the first rode while motoring to the drop area for the second hook.
An alternative if there is sufficient swinging room is to drop a second anchor in tandem with the first and clenched to the rode of the first.
As a singlehander I have sometimes looked at the various arrangements for letting the hook go while still sat in the cockpit. These arrangements usually involve a trip-line with some sort of stop which when pulled allows the chain to run.
However, I prefer to be in the bows controlling the laying of the rode.
My practice is to have everything ready on the bows, motor towards my chosen spot, just before getting there put the engine into slow astern with the tiller lashed then walk forward.
By the time I get to the bow the boat will just about have stopped going forward, then as I lower the hook she will have begun to go astern.
For fishermen who like to stop and go several times without having to haul in the hook every time there is a cunning system sometimes called the Ionian system.
The chain is fed through a large metal ring or shackle attached to a large buoy.
When the boat is at rest the weight of the hook and chain pull it through the ring and onto the seabed.
As the boat powers forward the chain is pulled through the ring and the buoyancy of the float lifts the anchor.
A spring between the chain and a cleat on the stern will help when motoring forward and a control line can, if wished be attached to the buoy.
Check everything is stowed ready and that the foredeck is clear and the warp free to run back down the hawse-pipe.
Start the motor then idle forward while gathering in the line or haul forward on the rode.
When the rode is straight up and down, haul in the hook.
And don’t forget to stow it securely before proceeding.
Occasionally the hook might not break free.
If it is simply well dug in it can be freed by powering forward, just be careful not to damage the bow on the chain.
Sometimes it pays to be patient and allow the buoyancy of the boat to free it from the sticky mud.
The worst case is if the hook has snagged on a mooring chain or cable or even an old wreck.
However there are a few techniques that can be tried apart from diving down to it.
If it is a chain or cable which can be hauled near to the surface, then a rope can be passed under it to take the weight while the hook is lowered free.
To get the rope under, use the boat hook and have a float of some sort tied to the rope so that the end floats back to the surface.
If the snag can't be hauled up, try shackling a loop of chain (attached to a line) around the warp , haul on the warp so the anchor shank is as upright as possible, now lower the loop and try to maneuver it over the shank and as far as the crown.
Slacken the warp and haul on the line.
Most anchors have provision on the crown for attaching a trip-line.
The usual practice is to attach a marker float to the free end.
Others prefer to bring the free end on board.
I have found that trip lines can often cause more problems than they solve.
They can so easily become entangled with the warp reducing a long scope to a large tangled lump and they can accidentally trip the hook when you least want it to.
On the rare occasion where the hook is well and truly stuck and you need to leave in a hurry, the only other option is to cut the warp and tie a marker buoy to it so that it can be retrieved at a later date.
It has become common practice, particularly in production boats to stow the hook over the bow roller and the chain in a locker right up in the bows.
While this may be convenient in many ways, it is not good practice to concentrate too much weight in the ends of a boat.
Weight in the ends will contribute to pitching.
Your boat will ride more comfortably and safely if you can position the chain locker nearer to the center of buoyancy and once under way remove the hook from the bow roller and stow it further aft.
Despite the proliferation of marinas there are still many delightfully tranquil anchorages all over the world.
There really is little to compare with spending an evening secured by your own ground tackle, far from the maddening crowds and the light pollution, except perhaps for being woken the next morning by the gentle lapping against the outside of the hull and the sound of the birds.
"Cruising has two pleasures.
One is to go out in wider waters from a sheltered place.
The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters."(Howard Bloomfield)