Anchoring in a crowded bay can be a real challenge. While you slowly motor round looking for that perfect spot skippers in surrounding boats look on with disapproval, that ‘stay away from my boat’ look on their faces. Common courtesy is required and your apprehension can skyrocket.
Learning to anchor properly will make your stay in the bay relaxing and if you’re planning to stay overnight give you a good night’s sleep. The wind can come up and it may not necessarily be your boat that drags but someone else’s and that can make for some stressful situations. Make sure to the best of your ability that you have the courtesy to do the right thing.
You look at all the factors involved when anchoring, the wind direction, current direction and sizes of the other boats also which way are they likely to swing, the angle of the chain from the bow. Some of these factors can be deceiving and it also depends on how much chain they have out, the one thing you don’t want to do is anchor over someone’s chain.
There’s more to anchoring than just dropping it and hoping for the best, a few simple measures can protect your pride and give you security and enjoyment without fear of dragging. Work out understandable sign language between the helmsman and person dropping the anchor. Better than misunderstanding and yelling and screaming in a bay sometimes to the entertainment or worse boaties coming out with fenders to protect their own boat from collision.
An anchor can hold a hull weighing 1000 times its weight or more. To put that into context, a five-tonne vessel can have an anchor that weighs less than 5 kg... albeit throwing hydrodynamics, windage and anchor design into the equation.
When entering an anchorage most of us become fixated on the destination - the palm-fringed beach - rather than the voyage's all-important conclusion. The factors that really need to be contemplated at this critical phase are water depth, bottom type, potential underwater hazards, exposure to wind and current, and swing room.
A pair of polarized sunglasses is invaluable in this situation, as is circling the intended anchor spot for further reassurance.
Always make your final approach against the dominant wind or tide, noting the direction other boats are facing. Come in slow and steady, with the dinghy tied alongside so that its painter won't foul the prop.
Have the anchor ready to go as you monitor the depth gauge or lead line.
When you've chosen the location, don't just dump a pile of chain. Rather, proceed a boat length or two upwind before lowering the anchor to the bottom, then engage reverse while progressively paying out chain.
Check that you haven't lain across a nearby vessel's line, bearing in mind that the distance from the point you first dropped anchor is the radius of your swing. A stern anchor can reduce this swinging tendency in tight anchorages, but in some ways fights the natural forces.
And if when the tide turns you find you have swung or dragged too close to another boat the last boat anchoring should have the curtesy to move!
What goes down must come up, and this process needs a similar amount of preparation and forethought.