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How to anchor a boat

Time has come! You didn't miss the chance to book your bareboat sailing holiday in the Mediterranean and you are about to find your selves relaxing in the big blue. Before embarking, it is important to take some time to brush up your sailing knowledge. Being prepared to anchor your vessel safely is an essential skill of boating, so let’s remember the basics :

How to Anchor a Boat

Either you wish to stop for a refreshing sea dip in a secluded cove, or enter the marina at your next itinerary, there are some general principles to abide by when tackling this important task. 

Locate the boat’s anchor and identify its parts:
First, look for anchor stowed in an anchor well, beneath the fore-deck or at the bow of the boat.

Identify the anchor rode, the line that connects the anchor to the boat. It could be made of chain, rope, nylon or a combination.

Choose Anchor point
Pick a spot that is sheltered from the wind and waves. Circle around to make sure that there are no obstructions in the nearby area. If there are other boats nearby, make sure that the spot provides enough space between your boat and the others. You should usually be at least two scope lengths apart.

Prepare Your Anchor
Make sure you prepare your ground tackle in advance for a smooth anchoring, before reaching your intended stopping point. Once there, check the water depth. This will tell you how much rode you’ll need to let out. A common mistake boaters make is to let out too little, so we would advise to let out enough rode.

Add the distance from the bow of the boat and the top of the water to the depth to determine how far your bow is from the seabed. Multiplying the total by 5 will tell you how much rode you’ll need for calm conditions during the day. If the weather is harsher, or you plan on anchoring overnight, multiply it by 7 to 10. This is called the scope ratio.

Take the anchor out of its storage place and rig it to the rode. If it’s already attached, make sure the shackles are secure.

Flake the necessary amount of line onto the deck so it will run freely. If the anchor is on a bow roller or windlass, make sure it won’t get caught.

Cleat the anchor line where you want it to stop.

Get in Position

Once in the bay or cove, note how other boats are anchored and follow suit.

Slowly steer your boat upwind or upcurrent. You should be about equidistant from your closest neighbors and your target anchored location.

Lower Your Anchor

Stop your boat and lower the anchor quickly, either hand over hand or with a windlass, until you feel it reaches the bottom. If there are at least three people aboard, station a person midship to communicate between the helmsman and the bow man. Put the boat’s engine in slow reverse. Let out the anchor line while the boat backs away.

Once it’s fully deployed, the boat should come to a halt, securely setting the anchor. Throttle up in reverse — called backing down — on the anchor to assure it’s set. If the anchor line shows a V-shaped wake while backing down, the anchor is dragging. Let out more scope until it digs in.

Make sure the anchor isn’t dragging. Check reference points on land and keep track of your bearings.

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