This article was written by Keith Raven
No matter how good the equipment you use, you can't have a secure anchor for your boat unless you know how to use the gear properly. Often boaters will refer to anchoring as an art that you learn and improve upon through experience. The first step in anchoring your boat properly is to select an anchorage.
When it comes to selecting an anchorage you want to take into account prevailing winds, the bottom depth, the bottom composition and the existence of any other craft in the area. It is important to find shelter from the wind since calmer water will place less strain on your anchor and therefore your nerves as well. Always remember to anticipate any changes in wind direction and velocity as well.
The type of anchor you will use depends on the composition of the bottom. You should ideally anchor in a place where the water is deep enough that you don't have to worry about sitting on the bottom during low tide. Although you don't want water that is too deep since your rope or chain will be long, and you will have a greater swinging circle as a result. It is best to anchor in water that is two or three times the depth of your boat at its lowest if you can.
When approaching the anchorage you will want to make sure you have adequate swinging room. Be sure to mentally calculate the swinging circles for any other boats that are in your area. Circles will be small for boats attached to moorings and larger if they are on anchors.
Also take into account how the other boats are lying in relation to any wind and current. Reduce the speed of your boat and enter into the anchorage on the same heading as the boat already anchored there and then slow as your approach your anchorage point.
When it comes to placing and retrieving an anchor it is best to have two people in order to make the process easier. Position one person at the rode and the other in the cockpit. After you have chosen your spot to anchor the operator in the cockpit will slowly turn the vessel into the wind. Then pay out the anchor until you feel it hit bottom after you have made sure it is firmly attached to the rope.
Then the boat operator should slowly back up at the second person pay's out the scope that is required for the chosen anchorage. At the desired scope tell the operator to stop, secure the rode to the vest and then tell the operator to back on the rode slowly. This helps to take up slack and drive the anchor sharply into the bottom. The vessel can be shut down once you are sure the anchor is set.
Anchoring will take experience to perfect. It is a functioning of heavy gear, applied force, friction and proper angles. Invest in an anchor winch for retrieval and always lean towards heavy ground tackle. Be sure to have at least one anchor system on board just for deployment during an emergency. You can help keep the anchor stock down on the bottom by attaching a heavy weight near the junction of the chain and line of the rope.
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