Proper Boat Anchoring Tactics

The concept of anchoring a boat is a simple one: sink your anchor into the seafloor so your vessel stays in place. The techniques involved, however, are much more complicated. Improperly anchoring your yacht can leave you unstable and drifting far from your intended setting. This can be detrimental to your trip and lead to dangerous situations, such as capsizing or sending passengers overboard. Learn how to anchor a boat so that you can keep your vessel where you want it and keep you and your passengers safe.

Safely Securing Your Boat


Safe anchorage starts with an examination of the seabed. If the bottom is not suitable for anchoring, you will need to find another spot to drop. Sandy bottoms are ideal, while grassy, clay or shale beds prove a challenge for any anchor type. Knowing how to anchor a boat properly involves understanding which sediments are best for setting. Once you have found a suitable location for dropping your anchor, you can select the best anchor for the job and start the setting process.

Choosing the Correct Anchor

Most sailing vessels carry at least two types of anchors onboard. Modern plough or spade anchors are designed to be fully buried. The challenge with this design is that it takes a good deal of horizontal drag to accomplish the job, which can lead to a change in bottom conditions, causing the anchor to pop out of the sediment. Understand how to anchor a boat for a good setting. Reading up on the types of anchors available and how they work will help you choose the best option for the job.

Ensuring a Good Setting

Take the time to ensure your anchor is truly secure. After dropping the anchor, apply tension to the line by putting your vessel in reverse. Be sure you leave your boat in reverse for more than a few seconds. Your vessel should not move and your boat should lurch forward once you pull the engine out of reverse. If your vessel moves or your boat does not lurch, you will need to attempt your setting again.

Knowing how to anchor a boat properly requires that you understand how to set the appropriate scope. The scope is the ratio between the length of the rode from shackle to bit and the water depth beneath the bow from deck height to floor. You will need the rode to sit parallel to the seafloor and then ensure your scope ratio is at least 4:1. Be aware that if winds or currents shift, you might have to reset your vessel.

About Mariners General Insurance Group

Mariners General Insurance Group was founded in 1959 to protect boat owners and marine business clients. We are marine insurance experts and insure boats worldwide – in every ocean on the planet. Marine insurance is critical if you own a boat or nautical business. Trust the professionals with all of your Boat Insurance needs – trust Mariners Insurance. Call us at (888) 402-5018 any time you have questions or concerns about insurance for your vessel or marine business.