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A How-To Guide for Easy Anchoring

A How-To Guide for Easy Anchoring

There are plenty of reasons to stop and enjoy the view while out on the water. Whether you want to have lunch, stop to fish or even spend the night, you’ll need to know how to properly anchor your boat. Or, in more severe circumstances, you’re in the heart of some bad weather or your boat’s engine has suddenly failed. In this article, we’re going to explore how to anchor your boat securely with various types of anchor styles.

There are three main types of anchors: fluke, plow, and mushroom styles. Depending on the types of waters you’ll be navigating, your local marine supply store can give you the best advice for which type to buy. However, it’s important to note that mushroom style anchors are only suitable for lightweight boats and calm waters.

The rode, or slack in the anchor, varies. The amount of rode that you have out (scope) when at anchor depends generally on water depth and weather conditions. The deeper the water and the more severe the weather, the more rode you will put out. For recreational boaters, at a minimum you should have out five to eight times (5 to 1 scope for day anchoring and 6 to 8 to 1 for overnight) the depth of the water plus the distance from the water to where the anchor will attach to the bow. For example, if you measure water depth and it shows four feet and it is three feet from the top of the water to your bow cleat, you would multiply seven feet by six to eight to get the amount of rode to put out, says Boat Safe.

Once you’ve found a place with minimum boat traffic and some shelter from the elements, consider the following tips:

  • Give yourself some room on all angles so if the boat sways, it won’t knock into anything.
  • If there are other boats anchored, ask them how much slack they’ve put out to prevent them from hitting you and vice versa.
  • Anchor with the same method used by nearby boats. If they are anchored bow and stern, you should too. If they are anchored with a single anchor from the bow, do not anchor bow and stern. Never anchor from the stern alone, as this could cause the boat to swamp or capsize.
  • Cleanly lay out the rode by the anchor so that when it drops to the floor it won’t become a tangled mess.
  • Once the anchor has reached the bottom, slowly reverse until the anchor grabs ahold of the sea floor. The line should be firmly in place and not move, which is when you’ll know it’s secured.
  • Determine some reference points, such as other boats, land, or a lighthouse, and evaluate if you’ve drifted at all within a few hours.
  • Stay alert and continue to check on your anchor every so often.


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