Knowing how to anchor your boat is one of the basic skills you need as a boat owner and some tips and techniques about anchoring will definitely come in handy. Anchoring is much more complicated than just stopping at a place for a quick swim in the water. It requires planning and calculations to make sure you are safe when you are out in the open sea. Here are a few simple tips that will help you anchor your boat properly.

Utilize The Engine

The first step to properly anchor your boat is to utilize the engine correctly. You have to slowly lower the throttle to the point where your boat is standing still. Gradually lowering the throttle will help you stop the boat much easier because you use the power of the engine. Once you’ve achieved a standstill you can proceed on to the next step.

Scope Out While Anchoring The Boat

Scoping out is the next thing you have to consider before setting the anchor down. Scoping is important because it will determine where the boat is going to be positioned once you drop the anchor and the hook gets stuck. The best way to master this part is through experience and knowledge from the local depth of the water but there are some general guidelines you can learn beforehand. Depending on the water depth, bottom conditions, and the anchor types you may need to adjust the scope to water depth ratio between 4 to 1 and 10 to 1 to hold your boat into place and not drift too far. For example, if you have more chains and an oversized style anchor, you might be able to get enough holding power with a 4 to 1 scope. However, if the bottom of the sea isn’t holding well or there is a very strong wind or a current, you may need to go to 10 to 1 scope. 

Head Into Current

To anchor the boat at the place you want, you have to consider the current and the wind conditions. If there is a strong wind or current you need to head into them, pass the spot where you want to anchor at the exact length of the estimated scope. When you reach this point, stop the boat and let it drift back but don’t drop the anchor yet. This will let you know where the boat is going to end up when you drop the hook so you can make sure it’s going to be safe. Once you’ve determined it’s safe, go back to the original position and proceed to the next step. 

Utilize Enough Rode

The anchor rode is the next step to properly anchor a boat. A rode is a line which can be made out of a rope or a chain that is attached to an anchor at the end. You need to utilize enough rode to equal the desired scope. Once you’ve reached the desired scope, wrap the line around the bow cleat to secure it in place. Release it and let it reach the full length of the line to check if the boat is holding in place. You can utilize a short shot of reverse gear to make sure the hook on the single anchor sets on the rocky bottom. If you do it too early it might backfire and not catch anything.

Ensure The Anchor Holds

Once the hook is set on the bottom of the water you need to make sure the rode doesn’t damage any of the boat equipment on the deck when the boat is swinging on the line. One technique you can use to make sure your boat isn’t changing its position is to utilize landmarks by lining up your boat between them and make sure the hook isn’t dragging on the bottom. You can also use GPS equipment that shows your position. 

Familiarize Yourself With The Bottom Structure

Knowing the bottom structure of the sea is extremely helpful because different anchors hold better on different structures. Different plow styles hold better on different structures. For example, a plow anchor will hold extremely well on rocky bottoms while heavier anchors will hold well on grass bottoms. If the bottom is muddy, the Danforth anchor style would hold best. 

Best Anchor Size

The size of the anchor is also important for proper boat anchoring. If you are operating larger boats, the anchor size should be bigger and heavier to hold the boat in place while small boats would require smaller and lighter anchors. You can check the anchor manufacturer’s guide for the length of your boat, hull type, and displacement and see if the anchor will be good for your boat. 

Related: Guide to Reading Nautical Charts

Chain Or Rope?

Twisted or braided all-nylon rodes are usually enough for setting up light-duty anchors. You can also add a chain between the rode and the shank of 6 to 8 feet for increased safety. If you are looking to anchor overnight you’ll need to add more chains to your rode which should be about half of the length of your boat. Having a chain in your rode helps by lowering the angle of pull and absorbing the shock when the boat is tossed in extreme weather conditions. 

Be Mindful of Other Boats

Make sure you are courteous of other boaters when setting an anchor. If there are boats around the place you want to set anchor, ensure that you anchor properly by leaving enough swinging room for everyone around you. Take into account the size of your boat and the wind shifting. If your boat is large it will swing slower but if it has large cabins or big canvas enclosures, it will swing faster in high winds.

Double-check Reference Points

If you have a GPS on your boat that can send you an alarm when your boat changes position, make sure you set it up. If the boat changes position and you get an alert, tend to it immediately to make sure you are safe. Double-check reference points from time to time to see if your boat is changing position and if it isn’t you can enjoy your day. 

Knowing the proper technique for anchoring and mastering will allow you to visit places with amazing views and anchor safely so you can enjoy the crystal clear waters at the spot. Proper techniques to anchor is a big part of boating that every boat owner should know to stay safe when they are out on the open water.