Dos and Don’ts of Anchoring Boats

Anchoring the boat is an essential thing that everyone with a boat should know. It is necessary to understand how to lower the anchor and how to regain it. An anchor holds your boat in place, giving you time for swimming, fishing, enjoying the view, or staying for extended periods at a location.

When the anchor is lowered, it holds on to the seabed to fasten the boat in its position. It provides safety by keeping the ship out from being dragged away or swinging on the water. The anchor makes a hole in the seabed’s surface, holding the boat in place.

When the boat pulls on the anchor, it holds the boat more strongly, creating extra resistance. If there are rocks in the bottom, the anchors cannot dig but instead latch onto the bumps and, as a result, will loosely hold the ship, which is not a very safe anchoring. Hence an essential part of the safety precautions is to know about anchoring procedures.

Types of Anchors

1. Bruce Anchor

Bruce Anchor

Bruce is one of the most common anchors among boaters in North America. This anchor provides excellent hold in the sand or mud and gives a fantastic and firm grip to park your boat without any worries. 

The anchors that have a three-claw design are easier to set as compared to the other anchors. However, Bruce anchors have a tough time penetrating complex surfaces like clay and bottoms with heavy grass.

2. CQR Anchor

CQR Anchor

The CQR is the oldest type of boat anchor, which became popular in the 1930s, and it is still popular today. It is a standard anchor type among sea cruisers. 

The CQR comes in a standard 25lbs weight, and finding anything below is very rare and is hard to find. Despite its drawbacks, its design makes it more responsive to wind and tide changes than the other anchors. It works well on sandy and muddy bottoms. 

3. Delta Anchor

Delta Anchor

The CQR plow and the delta wing both are plow-style anchors. However, the main difference between the two is that CQR has a hinged design, whereas the delta has a one-piece design. 

Delta is another popular anchor that boat owners prefer to use. It has excellent holding power, which is about 50% more than the Bruce anchor. Like CQR, Delta also performs well in bottoms but struggles with rocky bottoms.

4. Danforth/Fluke Anchor

Danforth-Fluke Anchor

The Danforth anchor is also known as the Fluke anchor. It is a flat-shaped anchor with excellent holding power, which holds well on most bottom surfaces like mud, sand, and clay. 

The anchor slowly buries itself, and you can remove it easily, even with substantial tide changes. This anchor’s negative side is that it does not work well with bottom surfaces aside from those mentioned above and is most suitable for mud and sand. 

Things to Consider before Anchoring

  • Seabed’s composition, and whether the anchor is suitable for it or not.
  • The depth of the anchor and how deep it can go.
  • The difference in tidal heights.
  • What is the direction of the wind and tides, and which one is relatively stronger?
  • Chain or rope you need to let out.
  • Does it provide enough hold and power for the wind and tides?
  • Problems at the bottom surface or in the area.
  • Would it block the main route?

After checking these things, you should have your answer on which anchor works best and how to go about using it for your boat.

Anchoring Procedure

  • Checking the depth of the sea and choosing where to stop the boat.
  • Dropping the anchor to hold the boat in place and tying the rope or the chain on the deck.
  • If there is a need to dig in the anchor, the boat is reversed very shortly and gently.
  • Ensure that the anchor is correctly attached firmly to the group to remove the strain from its winch.

Anchoring Problems

1. Dragging

The most common and most significant problem that most boaters face is dragging. Dragging means that the ship moves about even after the anchor has been lowered down to hold it in place. 

If this issue isn’t dealt with properly, it can cause damage to not only your own but other boats as well. It is often the primary source of stress for many boat owners. You can check whether you are good to go or not by following these steps:

  • Try diving in to check the anchor and see if it is firmly fixed to the surface ground.
  • Keep track and point out if it has moved with a handheld compass and check it regularly.
  • Set an anchor-drag function on your GPS.
  • Use an anchor alarm app that you can activate on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
  • When you notice the dragging, reset your anchor and position the boat accordingly.

2. Swinging

Another common issue that boat owners face is swinging. Although it is pretty standard and occurs due to natural circumstances, you can still face a big problem if you have anchored close to the other boats. You can either bump into them or remove their anchor with your chain. You should check the amount of chain or rope you released and make sure that your swinging arc is clear.

Lifting the Anchor

  • Before lifting an anchor, it’s best to have people around you who can give you a hand when raising the anchor.
  • You need to check the position of the boat and where it’s lying.
  • If the boat is getting pulled away from the anchor, the boat should be moved forward with others’ help in directions. After that, the anchor is pulled back up and raised to the boat.
  • Bring the anchor back immediately and safely holster it on the boat. It is then stored safely for future use.

Additional Things to Remember When Anchoring

  • Don’t ever tie the anchor to the boat’s stern. If you have already, don’t try pulling an anchor back up, which is stuck with the stern’s engine after it is secured with the rope or a chain. 
  • If you pull the anchor back up, the boat will shift towards the weight, and the water will swamp the boat. A swamped boat can be dangerous to maneuver and may lead to an unwanted and life-threatening situation.
  • If you cannot release the anchor and it remains stuck for some reason, the best thing you can do is cut the line and get yourself another anchor.

Anchoring Precautions – Safe Boating Procedures 

Anchoring is a routine task that comes with sailing. If you’re a boat owner, that is something that you must know before going out on the sea. It is essential to know what to do and how to do it right when it comes to anchoring. 

There have been many incidents during anchoring because of the boat owner’s inability and negligence to handle the boat properly. Hence if you know the correct anchoring procedure and its limitations, you can easily avoid injuries and damages resulting from it.