There are few (if any) topics which generate as much discussion, and as much anxiety amongst sailors as anchoring. We used to spend many a restless night at anchor, and often opted to head to the nearest marina when strong winds were forecast 😳

Anchoring is a huge topic, too much for one newsletter. In future issues I’ll go deeper into specific topics; types of ground tackle and how to select the right setup, techniques on dropping the hook under engine and under sail, how to reduce swing, using two anchors, how to use a trip line…and much more.

To kick us off, here are some tips on how to anchor, and stay anchored….

  • When picking a spot to anchor, remember to consider (as well as wind, and avoiding a lee shore) waves and particularly swell. Being violently rocked for hours on end really does nothing for ones sanity.
  • If you do drag, you’ll be on the rocks quicker in a small anchorage than in a larger one. Smaller anchorages may seem cosier, but you’ll have less time to react if you become unstuck.
  • If you don’t have radar, there are some smartphone apps available to help detect drag. We used Drag Queen (love the name!) with some success, a Google search for “anchor drag alarm app” will surface a bunch more for iOS and Android.
  • If you’re planning to sleep take extra precautions; anchor as if expecting a hefty blow.
  • Always set your anchor with the engine; don’t assume because the boat’s come to a stop you’re set. Don’t be afraid to give the throttle some welly either, if you drag (even just a bit) either reset it or go elsewhere.
  • Scope: 3:1 is your absolute minimum (after setting with your engine), 5:1 is much better and (with a decent anchor) 7:1 is the most you’ll ever need. Here’s a simple illustration on how to calculate scope (it’s at the bottom).
  • Letting out more chain may make you feel safer, but do remember this will make your boat sail around more (giving you a larger swinging circle) and result in higher loads on the system. Laying out too much scope is also inconsiderate as it leaves less room for others.
  • If you need to restrict the swing circle, consider using two anchors off the bow.
  • If it’s forecast to blow over gale force then remove your roller furling headsail(s) to prevent it from unfurling of its own accord.

🎥  Watch this short video which explains the basics of anchoring.
🎥  If you’re after something a bit more exciting watch heavy-weather sailing expert Skip Novak anchor in some serious wind – very inspiring! 🏆


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