10 Practical Tips for Anchoring

Here we offer 10 invaluable tips to help you anchor your boat safety and effectively.

1. Choose the correct size.  Always make sure you have a properly-sized main anchor for your vessel as well as a secondary or kedge anchor, and two appropriate lengths of anchor chain or anchor rope.
2. Choose the correct rope. If you prefer to use anchor rope, choose three strand twisted nylon rope which has more elasticity and provides good shock absorption.
3. Select the right chain length.  If you are primarily using anchor rope, make sure you always use a 10m length of chain attached to the anchor first to add additional weight and to ensure that the pull of the anchor rope is horizontal along the bottom first before leading up to the boat.  This should prevent the anchor breaking out too easily as the boat moves around on the waves. The chain should be fastened to the anchor with a suitably-sized anchor connector or shackle.
4. How to calculate the chain length.  The length of your anchor rope or chain should always be at least equal to 5 x the maximum depth of water in which you might anchor. So anchoring in 6m of water will require a 30m anchor chain or rope
5. Mark up the lengths of rope or chain.  Consider using coloured spray paint to mark various lengths of anchor chain or rope that have been let out. This makes it quick and easy to see how much has been paid out or how much you have left when retrieving. Small coloured rubber inserts are also available that you can push into chain links.
6. Attach the anchor line.  Stating the obvious, but do make sure that the end of your anchor line is attached to your boat……. more than one skipper has watched in dismay as the unfastened end slips through a crewman’s hands and off the bow roller!
7. Setting the anchor.  Once the anchor is on the bottom, back away slowly as you continue to let out the appropriate length or rope or chain.  Once you have let out the right amount, secure the rope or chain and allow the weight of the vessel to set the anchor. If there is no tide or wind to help you drift backwards, use your engine.
8. Effective retrieval.  For windlass longevity, when retrieving the anchor use the boat’s engine to move it over the anchor. This will give a near vertical pull to help the anchor break out. It will also prevent undue stress on the gearbox and motor because most windlasses are designed to lift the weight of the anchor, not to pull the weight of the boat forwards.
9. Take some landmarks.  Always note the distance and orientation of nearby landmarks to keep track of drift. This way you'll notice if the anchor becomes loose. Alternatively, many current GPS plotters allow you to set a drift alarm that will sound if the boat moves outside of a set radius.
10. Look at tides.  Take account of the tides and the additional rope or chain that may be needed. A rise in water level might not necessarily break the anchor out, but it will simply increase the angle of the rope enough so the anchor won't hold properly. Conversely, a great anchoring spot could become a real headache if the tide drops so much that you're left with insufficient depth for your boat to be able to leave the anchorage.
To see the range anchors, ropes, chains and accessories available for leisure and commercial vessels, click here or for further technical advice, contact the Safety Marine technical team on advice@safety-marine.co.uk or call +44 (0)2380 226300.


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