HOW TO: SET YOUR AN­CHOR

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents - HOWTO BOAT MAS­TER

Jon Men­dez shares his best prac­tice for drop­ping and re­cov­er­ing your boat’s an­chor

An an­chor isn’t just a handy tool, it’s also a vi­tal piece of safety equip­ment. If used cor­rectly, it can of­ten rem­edy a tricky sit­u­a­tion or at least pre­vent it get­ting worse. So know­ing how to use it, where the elec­tri­cal break­ers are and how to de­ploy it man­u­ally if needed are vi­tal to good sea­man­ship.

The first thing you need to know is how deep the water is and what type of seabed lies un­der the boat. Sand, mud or shin­gle all give good hold­ing, while weedy bot­toms of­ten pre­vent the an­chor from dig­ging, so if vis­i­bil­ity al­lows, look for a sandy patch. Rocky seabeds can have fan­tas­tic hold­ing but of­ten make it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to get the an­chor out again. How much rode you put out de­pends on whether it’s all chain or a mix of rope and chain. If it’s all chain, four times the depth should be suf­fi­cient, if it’s rope and chain then six times the depth is the norm. How­ever, in windy weather or strong tides you will need to in­crease this.

If you’re staying a while, you will also need to make al­lowance for the tide, so base your cal­cu­la­tions on how much you will need at high water and make sure there will still be enough depth to stay afloat at low water. Mark­ing your chain with dif­fer­ent-coloured ca­ble ties at set in­ter­vals will make it much eas­ier to see how much rode you have put out. To set the an­chor, bal­ance the boat against the wind and tide at your cho­sen drop­ping point, then grad­u­ally let out the chain while al­low­ing the boat to drop back with the el­e­ments. I find that do­ing this in two stages helps to set it. Let out half the chain while the boat drifts back and wait for the bow to get pulled round, in­di­cat­ing it has set. Once it’s hold­ing, grad­u­ally let out the se­cond half, giv­ing it time to stretch out along the seabed rather than dump­ing it in a pile, then en­gage astern gen­tly to make sure it has set. The chain should go taut and feel firm to the touch rather than vi­brat­ing, which in­di­cates it’s drag­ging. When you go back into neu­tral, the boat should move for­ward as it takes up its place. The final step is to take tran­sits to gauge if you’re drag­ging, then use the chain lock or set up a bridal to take the weight off the wind­lass.

To re­trieve the an­chor, move the boat to­wards the an­chor’s rest­ing place us­ing the en­gines rather than the winch to avoid putting strain on the wind­lass. Lastly, when you get the chance, wash the an­chor, winch and rode with fresh water to pre­vent cor­ro­sion.

Once you’ve selected your spot, face the boat into the el­e­ments and calculate the to­tal length of rode you need to let out (four times the depth for an all-chain rode, six times for chain and rope). Now let out half the to­tal while let­ting the boat drop back.

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