• Anchoring 101 What They Don't Tell You!

    Many thanks to BoatDog for his contributions to this article!

    There are numerous articles on the internet that discuss the merits of various anchors along with giving detailed descriptions of the various setups used for anchoring. Each resource certainly provides valuable information but they tend to leave out key pieces of the puzzle. In writing this article my intent is to fill in those blanks with knowledge I have gained over the years. I hope to provide insight into not only the how's and why's but the thought process that goes with it. Even though many of these techniques may apply to bluewater cruising, this article is tailored to the inland waters boater that wants to spend a worry free night on the boat without waking up on the rocks.

    We had enjoyed a beautiful day on the water and were enjoying the light breeze blowing down to cove. It was a welcome relief after 95 degree temperatures and even the Whippoorwill seemed to be enjoying it. I checked the weather one final time before turning in and noticed that the front seemed to be right on track. The weather forecasts predicted the front would pass through at around 8 am with isolated level 3-4 thunderstorms, by my own calculations I expected to see it between 6 and 7 am. I glanced toward the head of the cove and in the moonlight I could clearly see the other cruiser that had beaten us to our favorite anchor spot. So much for being late. We were anchored in 30 feet of water and I had to put out more scope than I was accustomed to. The anchor took a bit of work to set and didn't seem to dig in like normal but instead came to an abrupt halt. It held well when I backed down on it but I was still a bit uneasy. I climbed into the berth and turned off the reading light. It was time to get some sleep...

    Before diving in too deep, I want to review some of the components and terminology involved in the anchoring process.

    Attachment 443
    Anchor (bow) Roller - roller assembly normally mounted on the bow of the boat used to guide the rode. Many of these assemblies store the anchor when not in use.

    Samson Post (bollard) - post used as the tie off point for the anchor rode while setting, breaking out and holding the boat while at anchor, the samson post is usually mounted in a reinforced area on the deck and designed to absorb the shock loads encountered while anchored.

    Chain or Hawse Pipe - normally a strong metal pipe that passes through the deck or hull of the boat through which the anchor rode passes on its way to the anchor locker.

    Attachment 444
    Anchor Rode (rode) - rope, chain or a combination of both used to connect the anchor to the boat.

    Windlass - manual, hydraulic or electric winch used to retrieve the anchor and rode.

    Anchor Locker - compartment used to store the anchor rode usually located belowdecks.

    Scope - ratio of length of rode to height of anchor roller plus water depth, to determine the amount of rode to deploy determine anchor roller height above the water plus depth of water and multiply times the desired scope ratio.

    Fetch - the distance across the water the wind can travel unobstructed by obstacles such as land, a large fetch allows the wind to act upon the water for a longer duration creating larger waves and rougher water

    Lee Shore - shore located downwind of the boat, the danger lies in the fact that the wind and waves will be driving the boat toward this shore and the closer to shore the shallower the water may get increasing the size of the waves.

    On the Hook - term used to to mean "at anchor" or "anchored".

    Swing Radius - distance from the anchor that the boat will extend as it drifts while anchored, ensure no obstacles are in this area, a good method of estimating the swing radius is to add the length of the boat to the amount of rode deployed.

    Drag Anchor - anchor fails to hold the bottom and the boat drifts.

    Break Out - remove a set anchor from the bottom intentionally, also an anchor the pulls out of the bottom may be referred as "the anchor broke out".

    Backing Down - once the anchor has stopped the boats movement applying power to force the anchor to dig deeper.

    Set Direction - the direction the boat travels to set the anchor.

    Fouled Anchor - anchor that does not set or hold due to an obstruction, this is normally caused by the anchor catching or getting wrapped in its own rode.

    In some cases anchor selection is driven more by personal appeal ratherAttachment 446 than the anchor's suitablility for the bottom conditions the boater is likely to encounter. The problem of choice is compounded by the fact that many anchors perform well under average weather conditions then fail miserably when you need them most. Some anchor designs require more skill to set properly and are easier to foul, yet when correctly set perform remarkably. This is why it is very important for you to practice until you learn the behavior of your anchor and rode setup.
    Even if you are using the correct type of anchor, you are more likely to change to a different one if you get frustrated attempting to use it. Remember just because an anchor is easy to set, does not mean it provides the best holding power. The key is choose the right type and practice, practice, practice. Experienced cruisers usually have at least two different anchor types on board each one suited for different bottom conditions. They are intimately familiar with the strengths and limitations of each anchor and this gives them a wider selection of possible anchorages.

    The weight of an anchor does not necessarily determine its holding ability, except for the infamous mushroom anchor that is commonly found attached to the boat that drifts by you while the owner has a look of panic on his face. The anchor's weight primarily helps the anchor dig into the bottom. The anchor develops its holding power from several sources, anchor design, depth, bottom conditions and most importantly scope.

    For lack of a better one, I will use my plywood analogy to demonstate the first two principles, anchor design and depth. We will try and not get too fancy here and keep the math simple. Lets take two pieces of plywood and bury them 1 foot deep in the mud. One piece is 4 square feet (2 x 2) while the other is 16 square feet (4 x 4). For the sake of our discussion lets assume both pieces of plywood weigh the same and ignore all of the other physics and rocket science that is going on here. Which piece will be harder to remove from the mud? The 16 square feet piece of course, it has more surface area exposed to develop holding power.

    Attachment 445
    Now lets take two identical pieces of plywood both of which are 4 square feet (2 x 2) and bury one of them 1 ft deep and the other 6 ft deep. It should be obvious that the one buried 6 ft deep will be harder to remove. It is the same size but it has 6 foot of mud above it. So you can see that both design (surface area) and depth have an affect on the holding power.

    Bottom conditions also effect holding power and require careful consideration when selecting an anchor. Weeds and grass for instance make it difficult for some anchors types to penetrate, while mud and clay will allow the anchor to dive right in.

    Scope is one of the most important principles and likely to be the least understood. In layman's terms scope is the amount of rode you have deployed divided by the total depth. Technically, scope is a ratio of the total length of anchor rode deployed divided by the height of the anchor roller above the bottom.

    Why is scope important?Attachment 448 Scope is the primary factor contributing to an anchor's holding power. Most anchors are designed to provide their greatest holding power while pulling in a horizontal direction. In the accompanying illustration, example 1 shows a boat on a short scope. If the boat moves due to wind or waves most of its force is pulling vertical (up) on the anchor. In a scenario like this the anchor will rotate and break out of the bottom, this is exactly what happens when we retrieve the anchor.

    Example 2 has a longer scope and you can see that as the boat pulls on the rode more of the force is horizontal rather than vertical. This is how the anchor derives its holding power. As a matter of fact a plow style anchor set with a scope of 7:1 or greater will dig in deeper as the force of the boat pulls on it.

    So how do you put this into practice? Measure the height of your anchor roller to the boats waterline if using charts or to the bottom of the boat if using a depth sounder. Each time you are ready to anchor you will add this number to the water depth. This is the total height above the bottom for your anchor roller. Now multiply the total height times the scope you desire and the end result will be the amount of rode you need to deploy to achieve the desired scope.

    Attachment 454
    For example, 4 foot to the anchor roller + 10 feet of water = 14, its a bit windy so I want 7:1 scope, 7 x 14 = 98. I need to deploy at least 98 feet of rode.

    With some anchor designs increasing the scope also aids the anchor in digging in and helps keep it buried once set. In the accompanying illustration on anchor set angles notice the long scope example, the extra scope plus the weight of the chain keeps the shank more parallel with the bottom allowing the anchor to dig in. If the boat continues to pull on the rode the anchor's angle forces it deeper into the bottom.

    Now that you know what scope means you may be asking, what scope ratio should I choose? Ratios of 4:1 and less should only be used for stops of a short duration while someone is monitoring the boat, lunch stops. If you are planning on leaving the boat unattended or spending the night and the weather is mild, a minimum scope of 5:1 or more preferable 7:1. If there is any chance of rough water or weather then a minimum scope of 10:1 should be used.

    Attachment 449

    The amount of rode deployed determines your swing radius. There are instances when obstacles such as rocks, the shoreline or other anchored boats may limit the amount of rode you can deploy. In deeper water this will force you to use a shorter scope ratio. I commonly experience this problem with the narrow but deep coves on the inland lakes. One solution is to set the anchor with a large scope and when it is firmly set, retrieve some of the rode to shorten your swing radius. Of course this is not the ideal situation but setting it with a longer scope can aid in getting the anchor to really dig in deep to help offset the fact that you will be sitting on a shorter scope.

    Rode Setups
    There are basically three types of rode setups, all chain, chain rope combination and all rope. The rode choice you make will depend upon a few key factors:
    • size of your boat
    • size of your anchor locker
    • is the boat equipped with a windlass
    • amount of security you desire
    • amount of money you are willing to spend

    Attachment 463I absolutely do not recommend an all rope rode. Although the rope will stretch and reduce the shock loads on your boat when anchored in rough conditions, it lacks the weight to keep the pull on the anchor more horizontal along the bottom. This will make the anchor harder to set and it will increase the likelihood of the anchor dragging. Chain-rope combinations work really well for boats up to 40-50 feet. The chain provides weight to help keep the pulling force on the anchor more horizontal and will not chafe on coral or a rough bottom. Meanwhile the rope provides elasticity to absorb the shock loads that rough weather can impose on your boat. The rope also keeps your rode's total weight down which is definitely better for gas mileage. I recommend a minimum chain length of one third to one half the boats length. An all chain rode is obviously the strongest setup you can have. The chain will not chafe and the weight helps keep the anchor where you put it. However there are a few drawbacks using an all chain rode, increased weight, higher cost and lack of elasticity. If you are using an all chain rode, I recommend using an anchor snubber (aka anchor bridle) during rough weather. An anchor snubber is used to absorb and distribute the shock loads placed on the boat during rough weather. Anchor rollers and bow pulpits are strong but in most case they aren't as strong as the bow cleats on typical cruising boats. The snubber allows the loads to be removed from the anchor roller and split between two bow cleats while providing some elasticity. Snubbers also help dampen the noise produced by an all chain rode.

    Weather and Water Conditions
    In general the wind will blow toward the water from out of the coves in the evening and reverse course to blow toward land as the morning sun warms it up. So if you aren't expecting any rough weather you would want to point the boat toward the head of the cove, release the anchor and set it while backing in the direction of the main part of the lake. That way your anchor is set for the breezes that will blow from the head of the cove. Each geographic region has its unique weather patterns but generally the roughest storms come from the Northwest through Southwest and move in an Easterly direction. Not only should you check the weather before heading out on the water but use whatever equipment you have at your disposal, computer, cell phone, radio or radar to get regular updates. If there is even the slightest chance of rough weather, prepare for it now. It is rough waking up at 3:00 am in the morning wishing you had really backed down on that anchor or set more scope on the rode.

    Determining where to anchor when you are expecting Attachment 447rough weather can be a challenge in itself. You are probably pretty knowledgeable on you home turf but what if you aren't familiar with an area? Marinas and other boaters can be a good source of information in unfamiliar turf but your charts may be the best source of all. Determining where you want to anchor will be a more a matter of personal preference and what you are comfortable with but we will talk about some things to consider.

    First attempt to determine the direction of the weather's approach. Lightning, hail, and heavy rain are the obvious dangers of thunderstorms but what we are trying to determine is the predominant wind direction. If thunderstorms are isolated or scattered the wind can pretty much blow from any direction. A line of thunderstorms will typically have the line traveling in a single direction, this makes it easy to determine the predominant wind direction. However this line of storms may have individual cells traveling in different directions and when the line arrives expect erratic gust from all directions. If the line is part of a passing weather front expect a significant wind shift after frontal passage. The wind is our primary concern in situations like these, our boats can handle hail, heavy rain and even a lightning strike. But given enough fetch across a large lake the wind can whip up waves that you would only expect to find on the ocean. Most common lake cruisers aren't designed nor are they equipped to handle ocean sized waves while at anchor. The wind can also push the average cruisers anchoring gear to the limits. Depending on the design of the boat a 30 kt wind can exert over 1500 pds of force on a 30 foot boat. Thunderstorm gusts routinely reach 50 kts and that yields over 3500 pds of force on the same 30 foot boat.

    Attachment 940
    In the example map provided we can see the wind direction is from the northwest and we will assume this is the direction of the storms approach. The topographic lines also indicate higher terrain lies along the northwest side of the lake. Now lets discuss the scenarios:

    Anchorage A
    Many boaters may not like the idea of being in a cove when the weather gets rough due to the fear of the anchor breaking out leaving them with little time to react and restricted manueuvering room, this is a legitimate concern. However the cove has high terrain surrounding all sides so you have protection from most of the wind. Since the wind is from the northwest you are also less likely to encounter rough water.

    Anchorage B
    Provides protection from the wind through 270 degrees so if the wind shifts to the south as the storm passes you can expect the water to get a bit rougher. B does provide an easier escape path should the anchor break out.

    Anchorage C
    Another possibility that offers wind protection and ease of escape, however should the wind shift to the east the fetch is quite large virtually the whole lake so you could expect some pretty rough water. Notice that the island shortens the fetch of a south wind if you are anchored at B so it may be a better choice.

    Anchorage D
    Located on the south side of the lake is similar to anchorage A in shape but it does not have the high terrain for protection. You would still receive some protection from the trees lining the shoreline. You would think that the point of land would provide excellent wave protection but the waves will actually expand as they enter the cove and the water may still be rough.

    Anchorage E
    Behind the island may at first seem like an oasis but that may be far from the truth. The wind will still be pretty stiff coming around the island and if it shifts you may have no protection at all. Even though you have two avenues for escape if your anchor breaks out, you also have two lee shores depending on the wind direction. The waves will also be breaking around both ends of the island and it can end up very rough.

    Anchorage F
    By now it should be obvious that anchorage F is providing limited wind and wave protection and is probably the least desirable anchorage out of all of the choices.

    Anchorage G
    For those that feel safer on more of the open water especially sailboats anchorage G may be chosen, it provides a medium level of wind and wave protection but the island is a lee shore so anchorage H may be a better choice.

    Anchorage H is identical to G but does not have a lee shore to contend with.

    Hopefully by this point you see the process to evaluate a safe anchorage from a weather perspective. However your choice should not be based on these criteria alone. Someone in a 50 foot Hatteras may be perfectly fine anchored at G while a 30 foot Sea Ray may be having a very rough ride. Also consider the quality of your anchoring equipment and how well you handle it. In many situations there may be no correct choice, in that case choose the best choice considering all available information.

    I struggled to get my bearings and clear the cobwebs from my head. In a matter of seconds I realized what had caused me to awaken and jumped to my feet. The boat was rocking wildly and the constant flash of lightning illuminating the cabin. In the time it took me to get from the cabin to the helm and flip on the spotlight the downpour had begun. The wind was screaming in from varying directions and the boat did a couple of full 360 degree turns as I started the engines and brought all of the electronics to life. I heard a sleepy voice come from the direction of the cabin asking if I needed help. I didn't even have to reply as she sensed the urgency of the situation. The wind now straightened out to a single direction and brought the rain down in horizontal sheets frequently illuminated by the streaks of lightning. The spotlight proved to be useless since visibility was only a few feet but during one of the sky splitting streaks of lightning the rocky shoreline was clearly visible, I realized we were in trouble...

    Narrowing The Selection
    Attachment 456Once you have selected an anchorage there are a few more things to consider before dropping the anchor. As you move into the cove look for obstructions using your charts, chart plotter and depth sounder (if equipped). Note the makeup of the shoreline, is it rocky or filled with debris. Many of the larger coves have wider areas within them which will allow more swing room. Look for objects that will be easily identifiable in the dark to help determine if your anchor is dragging since it is much harder at night to identify objects and get your bearings. Once you have found a suitable location determine your danger zone. Survey a full 360 degrees around the boat and determine the least desirable area that you would want to end up should the anchor break loose. If the anchorage does not have any obvious danger zones or strong winds are forecast then you will want to set the anchor in the direction of the wind as shown in the first example. This will allow the anchor to utilize its full holding power against the wind. If the winds are forecast to be light then you may choose to set the anchor in the direction of the danger zone. In this case the anchors full holding power is set to hold you off of the rocks.

    Attachment 457Setting The Anchor
    Several times a year while at anchor I am forced to maneuver to avoid being run over by another boat that comes drifting by normally in the early hours of the morning. The scene on the other boat is usually chaos with lights flashing, people yelling excitedly as engines rumble to life. This scenario usually happens when I come into a cove and the guilty culprits were already anchored. If I am there first I watch each new boat that comes in and anchors and can quickly tell the likelihood of them drifting off during the night. The truth is less than 50 percent of boaters know how to anchor properly. If you see someone cruise in, drop their anchor and shut off the engines...beware!

    When you have picked the spot where you want to set the anchor and the orientation you need, slowly motor up slightly past that spot, twenty to thirty feet will do. This gives the anchor some distance to dig in and hopefully set itself in the spot you chose. Now lower the anchor to the bottom slowly, don't let it freefall or you take a chance of fouling your anchor as the rode piles up on top of it. When the anchor settles on the bottom begin going astern (backing up) while continuing to play out more rode. If you are releasing the rode by hand, holding slight tension on it while going astern will help it set. When you have the amount of rode out to achieve your desired scope, go astern more slowly with by momentarily selecting shifting from neutral to reverse. Pay attention to the anchor rode, if the rode appears to be vibrating or jumping then the anchor is skipping along the bottom. When the anchor finally digs in you will see the rode grow taught and appear to rise up out of the water. Stop the boat and tie off the rode to a cleat or samson post. Now shift into reverse idle and allow the boat to stretch the rode tight until the boat stops moving. It helps to pick out an object on shore to confirm that the boat has stopped. Allow the boat to sit at idle power for a moment then very slowly add more power (400 -700 rpms) to dig the anchor deeper into the bottom. This is known as "backing down" on an anchor. The boat may move a few more feet before coming to a halt. Now reduce the power, shut off the engines and enjoy the evening you have just "set an anchor". Don't forget to turn on your anchor light! One helpful hint, since you will drift around the anchor inside your swing radius make a mental note of the initial rotation as you swing around the anchor, clockwise or counterclockwise. We will talk more about this later.

    So what do you do if the anchor does not set? Attachment 458There are several options, you could retrieve it and try again, however from past experience I have found attempting the same procedure seldom works, you need to change something. One solution that has worked for me is to try again but this time only deploy approximately half the rode needed for the desired scope. Then when the anchor begins to dig in deploy the remainder of the rode and continue to set the anchor. Another technique that works well is to deploy more rode than you desire and when the anchor is set retrieve the excess rode. If wind and obstacles will allow many times you can be successful by reversing the set direction. This works well on sloping bottoms especially if your set direction is uphill. It allows the anchor to take a more aggressive bite at the bottom. If none of these techniques work you may have to change anchors or find another anchorage.

    The thunder was almost a continuous rumbling now and the rain was pouring down in horizontal sheets. I knew the first thing I had to do was get that anchor up so I could maneuver the boat without wrapping the rode around my props so I grabbed my light and started toward the bow of the boat when I realized the boat was not moving. Even with the rough water and wind whipping about the boat was dead still. I couldn't make out the shoreline due to the blinding rain so back to the helm I scurried. I opened the aft canvas just in time for a streak of lightning to illuminate the bank less than four feet away. We had just ran aground...

    Retrieving The Anchor
    When it is time retrieve the anchor, slowly begin to take in rode and if necessary use power to manuever the boat up to the anchor. Attachment 459Once you are directly over the anchor leave just enough slack in the rode to enable you to tie it off to the samson post or a strong cleat. With the anchor rode tied off, begin to break out the anchor by slowly moving forward at idle. Initially move forward just enough to keep the anchor rode taught, if you notice the bow dip slightly that should normally be enough force to break out the anchor. It may take a few seconds especially if the anchor is buried deep in mud or clay. You may have to shift in and out of neutral to keep the tension. Ideally you want to break out the anchor heading in the direction opposite the set direction. If the anchor doesn't break out after 15-20 seconds, keep the engines at idle and shift into forward to add more pulling power. The key is to use the least amount of force required to break out the anchor or you will begin breaking equipment.

    My anchor will not break out so now what? Earlier I suggested making a mental note of the initial rotation once the anchor was set. The bottoms of many lakes are littered with logs and tree stumps just waiting to grab your rode as you drift. If you noted that your initial drift was clockwise, let out your rode to the length you had deployed and go astern to the point where you were sitting. Attachment 460Now turn 90 degrees to your anchor and begin a counterclockwise circle around your anchor keeping the rode taught. Initially go approximately 180 degrees around the circle, then stop and attempt to retrieve your anchor again. On one occasion I was unsuccessful after a full 360 degrees around the anchor so I switched direction and made another 360 degree circle to finally free the stuck rode.

    If you are fortunate to have another boat nearby that is willing to assist here is another method you can attempt to retrieve your anchor. Make a loop of chain and place it around your anchor rode, attach a long rope to the loop and cleat it off on the other boat. Keep slight tension on your rode as the other boat pulls the rope in the direction opposite your set direction. The objective is for the chain to slide down your rode and over the shank of the anchor allowing the other boat to pull the anchor loose from the bottom.

    If you are concerned about the possibilities of your anchor getting stuck attach a trip line to it before deploying it. Insert an anchor shackle into the trip ring and attach an small line to the shackle. Normally a 3/8 - 1/2 inch line will be sufficient and the length should be approximately 10-15 feet longer than the water depth. Attachment 461To the other end of the line fasten a small fender or other suitable floating object. You may consider using a permanent marker and write Anchor in large letters on the fender to prevent someone from picking it up thinking that it is a stray fender, it also will let other boaters in the area know where your anchor is located. Many recreational boaters don't understand that your anchor may be a hundred feet or so from where your boat is sitting. I have had these folks drag my anchor on more than one occasion.

    There are several ways to deploy the trip line assembly, I prefer to attach the shackle to the trip ring while the anchor is still in the roller. Next I will begin to deploy the anchor until it is a few feet below the surface of the water then toss the fender well forward of the boat. This will prevent the trip line from fouling the anchor. Continue feeding out rode and set the anchor normally, keeping an eye on the fender. If all is going well the fender will be pulled to the anchor's location as it descends to the bottom.

    Now if your anchor gets stuck, motor up to the trip line and retrieve it with a boat hook meanwhile taking up most of the slack in the anchor rode to prevent it from getting into the propeller. Leave a few feet of slack in the rode and first Attachment 462attempt to break out the anchor by pulling on the trip line by hand. If that method is unsuccessful ensure the anchor rode has at least 15-25 feet of slack in it and place the trip line over the anchor roller and tie it off to the samson post or a strong cleat. With the engines at idle power momentarily place the boat into forward then back to idle. The objective here is to use the minimum force required. If the rope has enough stretch it will act like a rubber band as tension is applied. I have stetched a trip line taught and tied it off and after a few seconds the anchor broke out without any further effort. Once the anchor is loose untie the trip line and toss the fender back overboard away from the boat. Retrieve the anchor first and then retrieve the trip line. It helps to gently go astern while retreiving the anchor to prevent it from tangling with the trip line and fender.

    My Anchor is Dragging...Help!
    In many cases the first time you notice your anchor is dragging is when someone says "I don't remember that tree being over there!". Your rode will warn you that the anchor is dragging before you may even be able to notice it. Wind and waves will pull the rode taut as the boat sits on the anchor, this is normal. However if you see the rode appear to be jumping, just like someone plucking a guitar string then it is likely the anchor is dragging. There are quite a few topics on the internet that discuss how to handle a dragging anchor. However if you are concerned about weather and wave conditions the best option is to set it again.

    We had come to rest on the bottom a mere four feet away from some very nasty rocks. I knew the situation was not good but I refused to panic. The first thing I did was make sure we were all okay and get the life jackets on, I should have done that earlier. Next I opened all of the hatches to ensure we were not taking on water and check for any obvious damage. The next thing I did may surprise you but is a critical step, I sat down and gathered my thougts. I knew the boat was not rocking that is both good and bad, good to know the hull is not see-sawing against a rock and bad knowing that we may be hard aground. I knew the wind would shift as the front passed our position and this would bring the wind out of the northeast. This was not good since the wind would have more fetch to increase the wave heights. If this happened and we broke loose, the waves would push us into the rocks and we would lose the boat...

    I Am Hard Aground...Now What?
    If you spend enough time on the anchor you will eventually find yourself in a location that you did not originally plan to be. This location will likely be quite shallow and not very exotic. When this happens the most important thing is to remain calm. You are the Captain and your demeanor will help determine whether everyone panics or they remain calm and able to help. These tips are also useful if you should run agound while underway.
    • First ensure everyone is okay and calmly have them put their life jackets on.
    • Inspect the bilges and other accessible areas to detemine if the hull has been breached.
    • If the boat is taking on water issue a Mayday call.
    • This step assumes the boat is not taking on water, sit down, relax and think about the situation. Many people have an urgency to act even though it may be the wrong action. The boat isn't going anywhere so take the time to formulate a plan.

    In formulating a plan consider whether to attempt to move the boat now or wait. If this happens at night and the boat is in no immediate danger, you may opt to wait until daylight to free the boat. Having another boat to assist with a tow is very helpful but I am only going to discuss kedging in this article since it is not a well known technique. Kedging is using your own anchor to assist in pulling your boat to deeper water. If your anchor is not set you may have to use a dinghy or wrap flotation around the anchor and swim out to deeper water and drop it. Lighten the boat if possible so it will have less draft. Begin to retrieve the anchor rode preferably by hand since most windlasses aren't designed to handle the load of a stuck boat. Pull the rode as taut as you can and see if the boat moves. If you are lucky the boat will slowly begin to move and you should proceed slowly. If the boat refuses to move tie the rode to a cleat with as much tension as possible. The rode will stretch and keep a steady pull on the boat. There are several things you can try to attempt to get the boat moving. This may require a bit of ingenuity but here are some of the more common actions. Try shifting weight within the boat both fore/aft and side to side. Even a small boat can generate waves large enough to rock large boats, if another boat is available have them pass close by making waves. Attempt to dig out from under the bottom of the boat to free it. The key is to keep the rode as tight as possible so that it will continue to exert a steady pull on the boat. I hope by reading this article you have learned how to evaluate an anchorage more thoroughly and gained a better understanding of the thought process involved in anchoring properly. Remember practice is vital and always prepare for the unexpected.

    I hurried back to the bow of the boat moving more by feel since my spotlight was useless. I began to pull on the anchor rode and after retrieving approximately 50 feet I felt the anchor grab. I placed both feet on the bow rail for leverage and pulled as hard as I could. The boat rotated about 20 degrees but refused to move any further. I tied off the rode to the samson post and headed back to the helm just as the sting of hail began to pelt the boat. Once under the protection of the canvas I started the starboard engine. I knew I was taking a chance of destroying a propeller or even worse the engine itself but I was running out of time. With great reluctance I shifted the transmission quickly into forward then back to neutral fully expecting to hear the grind of propeller on rock but much to my relief she spun normally. I quickly shifted back into forward and revved the engine, the boat moved so I repeated the process. On the third attempt we broke free so I started the other engine and turn 90 degrees to the anchor rode so I wouldn't get it tangled in the props. During a flash of lightning I noticed we were well clear of the bank so I moved forward to retrieve the anchor. We had broken loose just in time as the wind was now out of the northeast and the waves were building rapidly. We moved to the middle of the cove and deeper water and kept the boat on station using the depth sounder until the weather calmed down enough so we could set the anchor again...
    Cap'n Ray, Stokecity, Ana and 2 others like this.


    Comments 9 Comments
    1. Carol's Avatar
      Carol -
      Impressive and very well written. Thank you
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      Thank you very much!
    1. Copout162's Avatar
      Copout162 -
      Good advise very good information
    1. greenghost39's Avatar
      greenghost39 -
      Thankyou Tim
      You definitely know what your talking about
      Great post
      Once again very clear precisely worded
      And facts are spot on
    1. Ana's Avatar
      Ana -
      Very helpful, thank you!
      I tried it out this past weekend, following the steps as closely as I could, and it all worked great! I enjoyed my dinner feeling relaxed at anchor in Strom Bay, 6 NM west of Bella Bella on British Columbia's beautiful central coast - thanks again
    1. MaxFlex's Avatar
      MaxFlex -
      Thanks, Tim! This is an EXCELLENT article - well reasoned, researched and presented! I am looking forward to putting your words into practice (practice, practice...) just as soon as the ices lets up! All the Best!
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      Glad you all have found the info useful, don't hesitate to add your input on things that were missed in the topic etc. Anchoring is one of those things that if it don't feel right, it ain't right and so much is riding on that hook
    1. willy's Avatar
      willy -
      Very well written and illustrated. I think the story adds reality to the lesson. Thank you!
    1. gene.george's Avatar
      gene.george -
      A crash course on anchoring. Just what I needed. Very well explained Thanks a lot.
      Will take me 3 or 4 more reading it over and over to absorb all the details, but eventually with practice and practice will get it somehow right.
      Thanks again.
  • Recent Forum Posts


    Grind back the bad area to good substrate and 4...

    Grind back the bad area to good substrate and 4 to 6 inches past. Then rebuild the area with fiberglass cloth and epoxy. Fair smooth with cabosil, prime, and paint.

    ben2go October 18th, 2018, 13:04 Go to last post
    Rob Orr

    Bottom Delamination

    I have a 2000 Caravelle 210 Center Console. I used it for many years in the Great Lakes and brought it to Florida when we moved in 2011. During the winter of 2018 the bottom on the port side...

    Rob Orr October 17th, 2018, 16:27 Go to last post

    Oh. The House bank is 4 Trojan T105 for 450AH. It...

    Oh. The House bank is 4 Trojan T105 for 450AH. It drives a 2.5KW Freedom inverter/charger as well.

    dwsdolce October 9th, 2018, 22:12 Go to last post
  • Twitter