10 Things You Need To Know About Anchoring A Boat
Part I

1) Let's be safe!

When you are anchoring a boat, you have to decide on your safety zone. I mean, you have to keep a safety margin. Whether this is to the shore, the rocks or other boats.

Remember that being at anchor is never 100 percent secure! Your anchor is just a hook that buries itself in the seabed and keeps your boat in place. Wind or current can become very strong and might be too strong for your anchor to cope with...

I have experienced winds that came up out of the blue and reach near gale forces in the blink of an eye. Or wind shifts that are coming from the opposite direction, these winds might break out your anchor.

So, the bottom line is that you need space around you, enough for you to react in case the boat starts dragging. You decide yourself which distance feels comfortable to you!

2) Know your anchor!

Do you know the parts of your anchor?


Well, it's your lucky day! Here are they:

  • the Eye
  • the Shank
  • the Crown
  • the Stock
  • the Fluke
Parts of an anchor

3) The force of your anchor

Ever wondered where the force of your anchor is coming from? This depends on several things.

Certain anchor shapes are better in certain kinds of seabed than other anchor models. Normally you would choose your anchor depending on the area you want to sail and your boat's arrangements.

The kind of seabed plays an important role too, as we discussed in 'How to Anchor a Boat' Part I.

And the scope, of course. The more chain or rope and chain you let out, the bigger the resistance is for your anchor to drag. Your anchor develops tremendous holding force when it is pulled in a horizontal way.

The weight of the chain makes sure that the anchor is pulled horizontally, when you have let out enough chain, of course.

Now, you can throw all your chain overboard to be very secure, but we're not living alone on this world.

It's very likely that there are other boats around us or that the shore is nearby.

So, we put out a sensible scope.

3 times the depth with chain and 7 times the depth with chain and rope, these are the minima!

4) Extra help to retrieve your anchor

Hmm, the anchor got stuck! Was there an extra way to retrieve our anchor?

Yes! When you know that you are going to anchor in a tricky spot, where the anchor might get fouled, you might consider a trip line.

A trip line is connected to the crown of your anchor and small floating buoy on the surface. If your anchor got stuck, it might do the trick to break out the anchor by pulling it up by the crown.

Another benefit is that other people can see where your anchor is located, so that they don't drop theirs on yours!

There are also special tools on the market that help to retrieve a fouled anchor.

5) Tight anchoring

Sometimes you can't avoid it and you're lying with a lot of fellow sailors in that same Paradise Bay. What do you do?

This connects a bit with point 1. You need to think about your and your neighbours' swinging circle. Your anchor is always the middle point of your swinging circle.

When the wind or current changes direction, the dance begins!

You don't want a dance partner in this case, I assure!

So, before you're actually anchoring a boat, look at the other yachts and imagine their swinging circle. Don't drop it in that circle.

Know that bigger yachts have bigger circles, even when they have dropped the same length of chain as you!

Go to Anchoring A Boat Part II

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