Anchors and anchoring are often a mystery, even to experienced boaters. For most, the anchor is something that takes up space and came with the boat. If you learn to use your anchor properly, though, you won’t have to wait for a slip in a distant marina; you can anchor offshore, outside the marina and save the cost of a slip.
Anchors come in a variety of shapes designed to fit into a variety of sea bottoms – mud, gravel, sand, or some combination. Some anchors, such as the mushroom anchors, hold your boat in place temporarily. Because not all anchors work well on all types of bottom, the type of seafloor found at your “usual destinations” will dictate the anchor or anchors – yes, you may need more than one anchor aboard your boat – you use most often.
The most-often seen anchors include the Danforth, that folds flat or even breaks down for easy, flat storage. The Danforth’s pointed flukes grab into a rock, gravel or weedy seabed easily; the plough – or “CQR” – anchor, that digs into sand or mud bottoms; and the mushroom, a gravity anchor that sits on the bottom, to hold your boat in place by its weight.
Anchors come in a variety of weights, as well. Your boat travels at the boundary of two fluids of different viscosities: one fluid is the water while the other is the air. Both have an effect on your boat’s performance and anchoring characteristics. The greater your boat’s sail area – the part of your boat that’s above water – the more wind will affect its performance. The larger the volume of your boat below water, the greater the affect of currents and waves. How your boat acts while anchored depends on the balance of the wind and the waves.
There are some one-size-fits-all formulas used to select the right-sized anchor. The best way to select an anchor, though, is to talk to your boat dealer. The technicians and staff at Boats Direct USA can guide you in the selection and purchase of the right anchor for your boat.
You probably have a Global Positioning System receiver — a GPS unit — on your boat. Following its guidance, you can position your boat within 3 meters – about 16 feet – of any point on the surface of the planet, including an a good place to anchor. Reaching the right position is the first step, particularly if you’re anchoring within an anchorage in a harbor.
- Ready the anchor. Give the anchor line a quick visual inspection and check the connection between the anchor and the anchor line. Take a look at your fish finder and note the depth of the water. Multiply this by 5 and lay out that much anchor line – if the water’s 20 feet deep, have 100 feet of anchor line ready. Tie the end of the 100-foot line to a bow cleat. Remember, the weight of the anchor line/anchor chain keeps you in place – the hook on the anchor ensures the line is tethered to the seabed.
- Approach your intended anchorage so the current is on your bow and you’re moving into the current.at dead-slow speed.
- Cut the power and begin to lower the anchor, slowly – don’t drop it, don’t throw it over the side — as you pass over the anchorage location. If you lower the anchor, you’ll have better control over where it lands and how it grabs into the bottom without damaging protected marine plants or formations, such as coral. The current will start to push you back toward the anchorage, so that – when your bow passes over the “spot,” the anchor should touch the bottom. Tie off the anchor line to a deck cleat as soon as the anchor touches bottom.
- Let the boat drift backward and watch the anchor line. If the anchor line begins to take a strain, your anchor will probably hold. Even so, keep an eye on your GPS or on a couple of reference points ashore, so you can tell if you’re drifting. When your boat stops drifting, back the boat at dead slow for a few seconds, then keep a watch to ensure your anchor isn’t dragging over the bottom.
- When it’s time to go, pull forward at dead-slow, taking up anchor line as you go. Shorten up the anchor line and tie it off to the bow cleat – as the boat pulls forward of the anchor’s location on the seabed, the anchor will pull free and you can haul it up.
Remember: use the current to help you control your approach to an anchorage. Don’t drop the anchor – lower it.
And talk to the experts at Boats Direct USA about your anchoring needs.