How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

There’s an art to anchoring securely and safely. Here’s a detailed yet streamlined checklist to consider for executing this maneuver. An entire book would be necessary to cover every single essential of anchoring your vessel, so this guide sticks to the basics.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

1. Check Your Chart

Make sure you have as many of the desirable qualities of a good anchorage as possible:

  • Enough depth at high and low tide
  • Adequate room to swing
  • Good holding ground
  • Out of the channel
  • Protected – lee of island or windward side of channel
  • Dinghy-able distance to where you want to go if that applies

    Marine Traffic, left, is a fun example of Apps for Your Phone that I like to use while boating.

    Include any variables like direction and strength of wind, tide, current, and sea room between you and any dangers like concrete seawalls, bridges, sandbars, and more.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

2. Plan Your Position

The customary pattern is anchoring in a diamond-like position. Boats alternate positions, choosing to be neither directly upwind or downwind of each other, or directly next to each other.

If you plan to run a potentially noisy or smelly generator; at the furthest downwind is most considerate of you.

Try to avoid anchoring directly downwind or downcurrent of another vessel. They will be on your mind all night long when the wind pipes up – or on your bow pulpit when they drag.

Also, avoid anchoring directly upwind or upcurrent of another vessel. They will worry about your vessel dragging, what type of loud music you play, and if you plan to fry bacon in the morning. Be a considerate neighbor!

Next, watch for boats with insufficient scope, messy decks, or any indicator that she’s not ship-shape and you should anchor further away.

Finally, if something does not work out; just move. Pick another spot. Or, if you were there first… try to politely discourage them from a “bad” spot.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

3. Figure Your Scope

Drive in a circle in the area where you plan to anchor to check the depth all around. Monitor and remember depths all around, especially hazards. Use landmarks if possible to plan your swing area.

Add to the depth the distance from the water to the anchor roller.

Multiply that by 3:1 or 4:1 or 5:1 for a “lunch hook” when you will be on deck, during daylight hours, and aware.

Multiply that by 5:1 or 6:1 or 7:1 or more for overnight when you will not be on deck and after sunset.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

4. Ready Your Anchor

Open the locker, ensure your windlass breaker is on, bring a winch handle to release the brake if needed.

Then, look for any stopper lines or pins. Let out a couple inches of line or chain in order to enable you to shift the anchor’s weight forward so it will carry itself off the boat when you are ready.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

5. Make Your Approach

Approach the center of your circle paying attention to wind and tide. Best approach is from downwind or down current, into the current or wind.

Slow as you approach the center. You may even have to reverse at some point.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

6. Lower the Anchor

In the center of your described circle, perform a final depth check and lower your anchor a bit more than the depth plus the water-to-roller distance.

Avoid piling all your line and chain on top of the anchor by either allowing the wind and/or tide to move your vessel backward, or using a small amount of reverse.

Continue backing and letting out line/chain until you reach your planned length.

I’ve seen red-white-blue markings every 25 feet, or every 50 feet. This article from Ocean Navigator has a couple marking options.

Also, I’ve seen the “Go Rub Your Balls With Grease” memory device for Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, White, Green for boats with longer rodes, making the red white blue system too repetitive to remember when anchoring quickly.

These markers from Osculati are pretty slick. I’ve found them in 6, 8, 10, and 12 mm sizes.

Some people also apply zip ties to those sections for feeling them at night and knowing where to remark them later.

Be aware if your boat’s anchor rode markings are in meters or feet.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

7. Back Down

Apply reverse and monitor for dragging.

Some indicators that your anchor is set is that your bow will “snap-to” toward the line as you reverse. You may even feel the boat lurch a bit when she reaches the end of the scope.

Next, you should see your stern start to walk to port on a starboard-turn prop as the boat reaches the end of the line.

The initial appearance of drag may be from stretching out the line, or raising the chain off the sea bottom.

Monitor two objects on shore; one close and one far away, directly off the beam of your vessel, to determine if your anchor is set or dragging.

This is a Delta-Style anchor shown. The lead in the tip encourages the point to dig into the bottom quickly instead of skating over or flopping side-to-side.

In case you are tired of shackles with wire mousing tearing your flesh, an anchor swivel is a really nice upgrade. The Shenghuiss version features a unique nub that assists
the anchor in flipping itself right-way up onto the bow roller.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

8. Secure Your Line

If necessary, move your anchor line and make fast to a cleat.

When using all chain; you may need to rig a “snubber line” that will gather a length of chain and serve as a shock absorber to avoid clanging all night long.

Harrod Enterprises makes a versatile snubber that can be rigged easily for chain.

Dock Edge has a snubber you can use on an anchor or a mooring or even a dock line.

Rig chafing gear as necessary.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

9. Mark Your Location

Look all around and take bearings off not only other vessels around you, but also any landmarks you can see.

Lighthouses, bridges, airports, streets, houses may have lights you will see at night. Other vessels may have anchor lights illuminated.

Have several bearings, and be prepared to rotate them in your mind as the wind or tide changes. Draw them if necessary.

If you have an anchor watch capability on your electronic system; engage that as well.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

10. Mark Your Boat

Daytime, anchored vessels may hoist the black “anchor ball” to indicated they are stationary.

Sunset to sunrise or in reduced visibility, the all-around white “anchor light” should be displayed.

For masts over 150 feet in height, an all-around red light is displayed.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

11. Pause and Watch

Before jetting off to shore or a swim, take a few moments to observe your surroundings.

Make note of any landmarks you didn’t notice before, watch boats arriving and departing to gather information about the current and wind.

Most of all, check to see if you are holding.

When the wind or tide changes; plan to watch your vessel and the others for anchors resetting or failing.

Tidy your decks in case of late-night dragging excitement.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

12. Sound Signals

vessel at anchor shall at intervals of not more than 1 minute ring the bell rapidly for about 5 seconds. In a vessel of 100 meters or more in length the bell shall be sounded in the forepart of the vessel and immediately after the ringing of the bell the gong shall be sounded rapidly for about 5 seconds in the after part of the vessel. A vessel at anchor may in addition sound three blasts in succession, namely, one short, one prolonged and one short blast, to give warning of her position and of the possibility of collision to an approaching vessel.

33 CFR § 83.35 – Sound signals in restricted visibility (Rule 35) from Cornell Law School because I can’t say it any better!

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

13. Hand Signals

Hand signals are good during times of adequate visibility, and are less stressful than yelling from cockpit to bow.

Spiraling up with your index finger can indicate raise the anchor. Spiraling down would mean lower the anchor.

Pointing up can indicate more throttle, down for less throttle. Some people hold up fingers – one finger for every 500 rpm’s desired.

A fist held up can mean either “hold,” or “neutral” depending on the desires of the captain. Those actually are two totally separate actions.

Point toward the bow for “forward,” toward the stern for “reverse.”

More scope can be indicated by waving the peace sign of holding up two fingers “I need some pieces!,” snub the rode with an open palm moving forward and back, and making the letter
“C” with fingers and thumb for indicating to cleat a line.

A good habit is “challenge and reply,” meaning someone issues the command, and the receiver mimics it to show they have understood so that the sender is absolutely positive the message was received. Boating is no time for confusion!

For weighing anchor, it’s good to have someone on the bow facing aft and indicating what direction around the compass from the boat the anchor rode lies, and also what angle to the boat the rode falls toward the water.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

14. Wireless Communication

During restricted visibility vessel anchoring, headsets are a great way to communicate. The EARTEC UL2S UltraLITE Full Duplex Wireless Headsets are fantastic. One ear is open for audible cues, the other for listening to your captain or crew. And, they work in wind! Six hours of talk time, noise cancelling, and you can switch on which side you wear the microphone.

They are pricey enough that I would suggest adding a leash in case they get knocked off your head.

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

We Don’t Go Anywhere Without:

  • Stream2Sea Reef Safe SPF 20 or 30 mineral, regular or tinted sunscreen, mask defog, shampoo, conditioner, rash guards and more reef-safe supplies. Use my code “DeepWH” for 10% off. The packages are biodegradeable – not just recycled and recyclable.
  • MyMedic Individual Bleeding Control Kits, this link and my code “DeepWH15” will save you 15% on your purchase. We take ours everywhere.
  • Sailo for $100 off your next boat rental! Discount Code: “KimWa1”
  • PierShare to rent your dock out or rent a dock.
  • BoatUS for your boat towing insurance! Code: “HEWAF88”

vessel anchoring, How to Anchor Your Boat // Detailed Anchoring Checklist

About

Leave a Comment

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com
Application-Confirmation 1.0 Verify-File 013e980104dec2d39acba78865f09e1e316adccd