Friday, June 12, 2009

Anchoring your Boat

Anchors are used most often by boaters while swimming or fishing, anchors are also critical equipment in times of emergency. Anchoring may be a safety measure if your boat becomes disabled. Choose an anchor that fits your boating needs and conditions.

The plow-style anchor is good for most boats and gets its holding power by plowing into the bottom.

The fluke-style anchor referred to as Danforth, is similar to the plow style but is more lightweight. It is also good for most boats and gets its holding power from its pointed flukes digging into bottom.

The mushroom anchor gets its holding power by sinking into bottom sediments. It should not be used to anchor boats larger than a small canoe, rowboat, small sailboat, or inflatable boat since the holding power is weak. You should never depend on a mushroom anchor to hold your boat in rough water or weather.

Preparing your anchor before setting out:
Attach 7-8 feet of galvanized chain to the anchor. The chain aids in setting the anchor by lowering the angle of the pull as the chain sinks and lies on the bottom. It also will help prevent abrasion of the anchor line from sand or rock on the bottom. Most anchors grip by digging into the bottom when the line is pulled horizontally. Any upward pull can break the anchor loose.
Be sure the anchor line is strong and long enough to anchor your boat. A good rule of thumb is that the length of the line should be at least seven to ten times the depth of the water where you are setting anchor. Since an anchor can be a safety device in an emergency situation, store the anchor and its lines in an accessible area. If the engine breaks down, you may need to anchor to avoid drifting aground.

You should never anchor in, or obstruct passage through channels or areas such as launching ramps or any other high-traffic areas. Be aware that the boat will swing downwind or downcurrent from the anchor. Allow "swing room" for any change in wind or current.

Below are some steps to take when anchoring your boat:
Select an area to anchor with plenty of room. Ideally, it should be a well-protected area with adequate water depth and a sandy or muddy bottom. Head slowly into the wind or current to a position upwind or upcurrent of where you actually want to anchor. When you are at that position, stop the boat and slowly lower the anchor over the bow to the bottom. Never anchor from the stern as this can cause the boat to swamp. The square stern may be hit by waves, and water will splash into the boat. The motor's weight will add to this problem. Slowly back the boat away downwind or downcurrent. Let out about seven to ten times as much anchor line as the depth of the water, depending on the wind strength and wave size. Tie off the line around a bow cleat, and pull on the anchor line to make sure the anchor is set.

After anchoring, take visual sightings of onshore objects or buoys in the water to help you know where your boat is positioned. While at anchor, recheck these sightings to make sure the anchor is not dragging. Periodically check connecting knots on your anchor line. When possible, use splices instead of knots. Knots weaken a line more than splices.

Follow these steps to recover your anchor:
Move the boat directly over the anchor while pulling in the line. Pulling the anchor straight up should break it free. If the anchor is stuck, turn your boat in a large circle while keeping the anchor line pulled tight. When the anchor breaks loose, stop the boat and retrieve the anchor. Never drag the anchor behind the boat.