Sailing lession: How to successfully anchor your boat?

Sailing lession: How to successfully anchor your boat?As I was observing other boat owners while they were trying to successfully anchor their boat I couldn’t help my self I had to go trough the basics again in this article about boat anchoring.

It is amazing what some skippers of rented boats do. Belive it or not, I have with my own eyes that a skipper anchored his boat in a way that he drove with a tend

er on shore and jammed the anchor between the rocks on the beach. The wind was blowing from the land so fortunatley nothing happened to them. Some are lucky.

A bit more common cases are that people anchor near the shore, where wind are often changing their course. In that case when the wind changes course the boat will start stranding with the keel. But most of these people don’t even care about it. When the keel starts hitting the ocean floor they simply reanchor their boat in another position using tenders and main engine. These are just two stories that I remembered.

Other common mistakes are dropping anchor while driving forward, which can damage your boat’s bow, leaving to little anchor rope or chain, anchoring in great depths and anchoring on inappropriate type of sea floor.

Below are some suggestions on how to properly anchor your boat.

Choosing the right place to anchor

When choosing an anchor site we need to consider three factors, weather, type of ocean floor and depth. For choosing the right place to anchor we need to know the weather forecast an configuration of the bay we are planning to anchor in. The bay has to be closed in every direction in which we can expect wind. The ocean floor has to be a correct type so it matches our anchor type. It’s not recommended to anchor where there are a lot of rocks on the ocean floor. Usualy you can find the type of ocean floor on all marine charts and you just have to know where you are to find an appropriate anchoring spot. When we are on the site we just have to check for the depth, where we are about to anchor. The depth sould be between 4 and 7 meters, that depends on the length of our anchoring chain or rope.

Length of anchor rope

Sailing lession: How to successfully anchor your boat?

The most common mistake when anchoring a boat is that your anchor rope chain is not long enough. When the sea is not rough, the chain itself hold the boat in place. So in that case the captain does not know what will happen when the wind will start blowing stronger. To meet the basic ph

ysical laws we need to consider the relationship between the length of the recommended chain/rope and anchoring depth. Since we have three basic types of boats anchor attachments they are classified according to the latter set the length. The first and basic type of the anchor is one which has a clamp attached to the rotating anchor chain in the whole length. This type should be dropped with the chain length equal to four to five times the depth. Another example is the anchor, which is attached to a chain length of five to ten meters, followed by an anchor rope. This system must be released with a length of chain and rope equal to six times the depth. Worst anchor type is one with a rope directly attached to it. In this case we must use a anchor rope with a length of seven times the depth.


It doesn’t matter if we are planning to anchor our boat in the middle of the bay or anchoring at stern on a pear, we always have to drop the anchor correctly and in the same way. The difference is that in the case of tying the vessel to shore before the maneuver, we prepare the anchor rope in advance. One person must be determined to drop the anchor. We must determine the wind direction and its direction to choose the correct direction of landing our boat. Usually we drive over the point of anchoring foar at least two times the length of our boat and then we move into reverse. We must maneuver with moderate speed and if the wind is very low, even very slowly. When the boat starts to move backwards, we must be careful that it won’t stop until the anchoring process is complete. Our speed must be small, but constant. When we arrive to the point where we decided to lower the anchor, we must give a command to our assistant to start dropping the anchor. It is necessary that the anchor is descended rapidly, until it reaches the bottom, then we have to drop the chain or rope at a rate equal to the speed of a moving boat. The chain should not slow down the boat. A few meters before the final stopping place, Captain must order to strengthen the anchor rope or chain and firming the anchor. If we anchor in a Bay, we leave the engine command position in forward with a slightly increased throttle. The boat should stay firmly iSailing lession: How to successfully anchor your boat?n place as the anchor should hold it in place. If the boat starts to move, it means that the anchor is not stuck, and the procedure must be repeated in its entirety. If the anchor holds the boat in place than we can turn off the boat engine. If we attach a vessel to the coast we move the throttle to idle an then tie our boat to the shore (pear) and then strengthen the mooring or anchor rope. No matter how much we struggle to tie the anchor rope to our boat, the anchor must not move. If we can pull it against the boat we will have to repeat the whole anchoring process and throw it a little bit further from our anchoring spot.

Some anchoring tips

  • Make sure you always check the weather report becouse it will tell all of the possible wind directions and speeds.
  • Check your marine charts of the area to find out what type of floor will you anchor on. Also check your sonar and GPS. You don’t want to anchor where there are a lot of rocks and algaes.
  • Before the anchoring process we check the depth and determine the appropriate length of rope/chain.
  • Attach 7-8 feet of galvanized chain to the anchor. The chain aids in setting the anchor by lowering the angle of the pull as the chain sinks and lies on the bottom. It also will help prevent abrasion of the anchor line from sand or rock on the bottom. Most anchors grip by digging into the bottom when the line is pulled horizontally. Any upward pull may break the anchor loose.
  • Be sure the anchor line is strong and long enough to anchor your boat. A good rule of thumb is that the length of the line should be at least seven to ten times the depth of the water where you are setting anchor.
  • Since an anchor can be a safety device in an emergency situation, store the anchor and its lines in an accessible area. If the engine breaks down, you may need to anchor quickly to avoid drifting aground.

Anchoring in six simple steps

  1. Select an area to anchor with plenty of room. Ideally, it should be a well-protected area with adequate water depth and a sandy or muddy bottom.
  2. Head slowly into the wind or current to a position upwind– In the direction that is against the wind or upcurrent of where you actually want to end up.
  3. When you are at that position, stop the boat and slowly lower the anchor over the bow– Front of a vessel to the bottom. Never anchor from the stern as this can cause the boat to swamp– To fill with water. The square stern– Rear of a vessel may be hit by waves, and water will splash into the boat. The motor’s weight will add to this problem.
  4. Slowly back the boat away downwind– In the direction the wind is blowing or downcurrent– In the direction the current is flowing. Let out about seven to ten times as much anchor line as the depth of the water, depending on the wind strength and wave size. Tie off the line around a bow– Front of a vessel cleat– Metal fitting on which a rope can be fastened, and pull on the anchor line to make sure the anchor is set.
  5. After anchoring, take visual sightings of onshore objects or buoys in the water to help you know where your boat is positioned. While at anchor, recheck these sightings frequently to make sure the anchor is not dragging.
  6. Periodically check connecting knots on your anchor line. When possible, use splices instead of knots. Knots weaken a line more than splices.

Three simple steps to retrive your anchor.

  1. Move the boat directly over the anchor while pulling in the line. Pulling the anchor straight up should break it free.
  2. If the anchor is stuck, turn your boat in a large circle while keeping the anchor line pulled tight.
  3. When the anchor breaks loose, stop the boat and retrieve the anchor. Never drag the anchor behind the boat.

You can find more sailing lessions and boating safety tips in the Saling lessions category or by reading some of the best articles like sailing in fog and what to do when water leaks!

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