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Thread: Setting an anchor?

  1. #1
    Member Cliffhanger's Avatar
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    Default Setting an anchor?

    I'm having a new BayWeld built this summer and we'll be using it over night down here in Ketchikan.

    Previously we never stayed overnight with our little boat and never had to need to be sure about secure anchoring. Can one of you (or all of you) experienced overnight cruising boaters please explain the correct way to set an anchor? Also, discuss when the need for setting 2 anchors exists and how to do that...

    Thanks...jim

  2. #2

    Default Does & Don't

    Never throw it, just drop it
    7 to 1 they say but thats tough too, but lots of line, allow for tides
    chain holds the head down have a good amount attached
    make sure it's set before you sleep
    use anchor drag alarm on GPS

  3. #3

    Smile practice doing it....

    If you can practice doing it before you spend the night some where then do that. For recreational boat owners anchoring in protected coves, a scope of 3 to 1 is an accepted minimum. Anchoring in sand or mud always helps. Never anchor anchor on a downward angle, look for a realatively flat bottom. When you think the anchor is on the bottom and you have let out what you think is a proper amount of line then slowly back the boat up until you can feel the boats movement stopping, put it in neutral and watch the boat slowly spring forward. If your in an area with other boaters consider the swing of your boat when the tide moves. Talk to other boaters you know about how the anchorage is where you plan to spend the night. It takes a lot of chain to keep an anchor rhode laying flat for the length of the chain. I am not convinced most recreational boaters carry that much, maybe they do. Your anchor line should be 3 strand nylon such as New England line. It has about 25% stretch, a good thing. How you set 2 anchors depends on the situation, so get a copy of West Marines catalog. It has a wealth of information in it and other boating issues. So does the internet. If your laying there trying to sleep and wondering if your anchor is holding, get up and look at the reference point you have preselected on land.

  4. #4
    Member Rod in Wasilla's Avatar
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    Default

    • Don't forget to check the tides and check the area for any submerged rocks or other shallow areas.
    • Check to see what anchor size is recommended for your boat length, and use the next larger size.
    • Use as much chain as the length of your boat.
    • Remember, you will swing as the wind and tides change. Use an anchor type that will reset easily with these changes.
    • Avoid anchoring in eelgrass.
    • Set your anchor by backing away from it until you are no longer moving.
    • If an anchor set is in question, don't hesitate to reset.
    • A scope of 3:1 may be acceptable in protected coves and calm weather.
    • Bring enough line to be able to set anchor at a 7:1 scope in bad weather or less protected areas.
    I'm sure I could list more if I had more time.
    Quote Originally Posted by northwestalska
    ... you canít tell stories about the adventures you wished you had done!

  5. #5
    Member bhollis's Avatar
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    Default

    Pretty good discussion of anchoring. Just a few things I'd add.

    First, take the prevailing winds/current into account in setting the anchor. For example if you're expecting strong southerlies (winds from the south), back down toward the north when you set the anchor.

    Also, I don't let out all of my anchor line before I begin backing down. This is to avoid it all just piling up on itself and maybe getting tangled up. For example, if I'm anchoring in 30 feet, I usually let out about 40 feet or so, then begin slowly backing and paying out additional line as I go. When I've paid out around 2/3 of my final scope, I stop paying out line, but continue backing down, and the anchor will set (hopefully). Then I pay out additional line to get to my final scope, and back down again to confirm the anchor is still set.

    When you back down to set the anchor, you don't need to gun the engine. Just apply enough force to give you confidence that the anchor is well set. With my boat, backing at idle is usually enough.

    Survey the water depths in the area before you anchor and check your tide table to make sure that you'll still have enough water under you at low tide--not just where you anchor, but everywhere in your boat's swinging circle (the circle with a radius equal to your scope with its center at your anchor point).

    Finally, if I'm planning to spend the night at anchor, I usually try to get the anchor set several hours before I go to sleep. Then I watch things through the rest of the afternoon/evening to make sure I'm not dragging and everything's OK. That way, when I go to bed, I'm pretty confident I'm not going to be awakened to any unpleasant surprises.

  6. #6
    Member Torpedoshooter's Avatar
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    Default Bottom type

    Another critical factor in safe anchoring is bottom type ... look for mud bottom or mud/sand. Get anchored up early and monitor your position closely, set drag alarms, get up a couple times and check.

    All the Best,
    Rich
    I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. That oath had no expiration date Ö Congress must use a different version that does.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default A great resource on anchoring-

    We have an excellent spiral-bound book in our bookstore that addresses this very well. The book is Jim and Nancy Lethcoe's "Cruising Guide to Prince William Sound". They cover all aspects of boating, along with safe passageways and anchorages throughout Prince William Sound. I realize that you are not talking about this area particularly, however the boating information is very useful, and others with similar interests might not be aware of this great resource. Jim passed away a while back, and Nancy has updated the book recently. The couple spent many years on the water in this area and I don't believe there has ever been a book like this for that part of the state. We've been out of stock for a while, and just got the 5th Edition in stock last week or so.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
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    Member Cliffhanger's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    Thank you fellow boaters! This is the kind of general and specific info I was looking for...

    I thought I had my cruising PWS guide but must have left it in Anchorage when we moved down here to Ketchikan. I'll order one up Mike, thanks.

  9. #9
    Member bhollis's Avatar
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    One other point that I think is worth making about overnight anchoring--don't drink, at least not more than one or two beers. If you have a problem during the night, you'll need to have your wits about you to deal with it.

  10. #10
    Member alaskanmoosehunter's Avatar
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    Default

    Do a search on the topic anchoring. I know there has been plenty of discussion on this topic in the past....Alot of good info.
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    Member Tolman24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bhollis View Post
    One other point that I think is worth making about overnight anchoring--don't drink, at least not more than one or two beers. If you have a problem during the night, you'll need to have your wits about you to deal with it.
    Also when you wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if everything is holding, go ahead and get up, take a look around and then go back to sleep. You will actually get more sleep this way. I set my alarm to go off about 3 - 4 hours after I go to bed. I take a look around and go right back to sleep. I usually wake up before the alarm anyway. It just gives me peace of mind. I set my chart plotter and sonar anchor warnings. on sonar I set both a max and min depth alarm. On the chart plotter I set the anchor warning to go off if my position changes more than .02 miles.

    The one time I didn't pay much attention to setting the anchor, scope, or setting alarms was at the cabins in Halibut Cove Lagoon. Heck it is like a lake in there and I just tossed the anchor tied it off and went to sleep. I figured the weight of the anchor alone would hold my position. Well I didn't figure on the tide differential. I woke up in the early morning, looked around and had no idea where I was. The anchor had lifted and I was slowing floating toward the mouth of the lagoon with the outgoing tide. I was a couple of miles from where I thought I should be. I simply pulled the anchor and motored back. In other conditions this could have been a disaster. I have never taken anchoring lightly again. One of life's learning moment that didn't involve blood.

    I agree about limiting the alcohol content. Things can happen fast on the water, you don't want to slow down your reaction time.

  12. #12
    Member NewMoon's Avatar
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    Default

    Posted from Ketchikan, where I'm hoping for moderate winds to cross the Dixon tomorrow, here's an anchoring writeup from my book "Cruising in a Big Way", on cruising the Inside Passage in a small boat:

    If you’re experienced at anchoring, there’s not much magic to it, but recognize that you will need to take into account really big tides, deep water, and potentially tough weather conditions. If you’re less experienced, anchoring safely is not that tough to learn – and it’s an essential skill for the Inside Passage.

    Tidal range varies greatly from place to place, and from one time of the lunar month to another. When the sun and moon are aligned, or directly opposite each other (new moon and full moon), their gravitational effects add together, making “spring” tides which are especially large. When the moon is at &#188; or &#190;, the “neap” tides are smaller. PNW tides can be as small as 6-8 feet, or as large as 20 and more. You could find yourself high and dry if you don’t know where the tide is when you anchor, and how much lower it will get over the whole time you’re there. Modern chartplotters with tide tables make this easy to figure out – but make sure you get it right.

    We usually anchor in 25-50 feet, and put out 90-180 feet of rode. We start by listening to the weather forecast, so we know how much wind to expect, and from what direction. Then we figure the tides, and thus the minimum depth we need. If we aren’t already quite familiar with the anchorage, we make a circle 200-400 feet across, checking depths in the area where we’ll be swinging on the hook. We do this slowly and carefully, to avoid suddenly coming across a very shallow spot – particularly where detailed charting is not available. We did wreck our props on one dark day, circling too casually in 25 feet of water, and running into a pinnacle we didn’t see, only 2 feet below the surface.

    If depths look OK within the circle, and we set the anchor solidly in the center of it, we’re fairly sure we won’t wind up aground. A good way to ensure we have covered the right area, and we’re anchoring in the center of it, is to zoom way in on our chartplotter. It shows the scale of the view it’s presenting, so by looking at our track we can see quite accurately the size and shape of the area we’ve checked out.

    We point into the wind, come to a stop, lower the anchor, and after the chain is all on the bottom we back slowly. After letting out the appropriate length of rode, we shift into neutral, cleat off the line, and let the boat put some tension on it. When the anchor seems to have set, we pull gently in reverse, while feeling the line for signs of dragging. Usually it’s easy to tell whether the anchor is well set or dragging. More often than not, it sets solidly right away. If it drags, we retrieve and re-set. The more wind we expect, the longer our rode, and the harder we pull to test the set.

    If the wind is strong, and we’re not sure of the holding quality of this particular bottom, we leave the chartplotter on and zoomed in. If it’s really windy, we might leave both chartplotter and fishfinder on for quite a while. As we swing on the hook, our track on the chartplotter shows as a crescent, centered on the location of the anchor. If our position moves beyond the crescent, we know we have been dragging. Occasionally this happens soon after we anchor, usually because thick kelp or soft mud has prevented good holding. Then we retrieve the anchor and re-set, successfully in most cases without moving very far.

    Ideally we choose a relatively small cove with protection from several angles. If we know where the wind is coming from, an anchorage that’s open for some distance in a different direction may be just fine. But suppose our anchor spot is open to the west for a mile or two, and west wind is forecast – we’re going to feel it when even a moderate west wind blows. On the other hand, if we anchor where there’s only a few hundred feet of water surface (fetch) for the wind to work on, and even more so if higher ground blocks the wind somewhat, we can ride out a pretty stiff breeze without bouncing around much. This is not just a comfort issue, but also one of safety: if waves have us pitching heavily, on the upward bounce there’s much greater strain on the rode. It could jerk the anchor out of its set and allow us to drag.

    We research anchorages with cruising guides and charts, and decide before we travel which ones will probably work for us. When we head out for the day we have our next stop already in mind, but always have others picked out along the way, in case weather worsens and we need to duck in somewhere. Over time we’ve developed a considerable list of anchorages that work for us, or seem that they would. With a look at our list, we can plan a day’s travel quickly, without a lot of re-reading in the guides.
    Richard Cook
    New Moon (Bounty 257)
    "Cruising in a Big Way"

  13. #13

    Default anchoring

    Was reading some of the post on anchor setting and there has been lots of good info. After reading all the comments I would like to add a few thoughts, as I have a few spare minutes.

    1. Never anchor on a down-slope. Your main concern is normally dragging anchor towards shore, that is easily taken care of. Always anchor with your anchor pulling up up-slope, (towards the shore, as it always trys to dig in more). Even if you swing around on your anchor, you will be secure if anchored correctly.

    2. Anchoring with wind blowing into the anchorage. If the wind is going to howl, this is normally the safest direction for it to come from. When anchoring in Alaska we normally have peaks/ridges of at least 1,000' and normally several thousand feet sticking up at the head of the bay. If the wind is going to howl from the head of the bay it will Williawaw on you and the wind will normally increase 3 times the normal wind speed. So lets make up an example: Wind is blowing 30 mph from the west, the bay entrance is open to the East, with the head to the West with a high ridge/peak, it will Williawaw on you for sure. You would want to anchor in a bay with the mouth facing into the wind, that way you only have to deal with the normal wind speed. Remember any time wind is forced up by an obstacle it get compressed and warms up, those two issues will cause it to williawaw. Ducking behind a peak/ridge of only a few hundred feet will not cause an willawaw, but will protect you from the normal wind.

    3. Wind gust causes your anchor to pull out. If you anchor correctly and are using nylon anchor rope with enough chain, gusts will normally not cause it to dislodge. It is the stretch of the anchor rhode that acts as a rubber band, each time it stretches the energy is dissipated into the water. The 2 factors that would cancel that wanted stretch is using cable (non stretch) or using too large anchor rhode, in which case not enough load is put on it to make it stretch. Take a look at a tug boat towing a large barge, the tow line will be sagging almost into the water, thats how little force is actually put on the line.

    4. Put out enough line and your okay. It real hard to guess how much scope you have out, better to mark your rhode. I assume you have nylon rhode, put a 3" piece of nylon surveyor tape every say 50'. This way there is no guessing on how much you put out, and it will easily last a few seasons. Why anchor with only 3:1 scope, just as easy to get in the habit of using at least 6:1 scope all the time, with your anchor set uphill. Then when the wind blows a little you won't start asking yourself is the anchor is set okay? Another important issue is having alot of chain on the end of your anchor before the rhode is connected. This will cause the pull to be on an horizontal pull and not a vertical pull that trys to dislodge the anchor on each gust.

    5. Not using the engine to set an anchor. If you just drift back on your anchor and you stop how do you know if the anchor is set to handle even a small gust? Better to get in the habit of doing it assuming the wind will blow every time you anchor. Take the extra 5 minutes and will keep you from having to get up in the middle of the night in the pouring rain to reset your anchor. It is easy to tell if the anchor is set good. When the anchor is in the water with the correct amount of scope and your backing down slowly on your engine with someone standing on the anchor rhode at the deck (you have the anchor rhode tied fast), as you back down you can feel the rhode bouncing over every rock and you know if it is dragging when all the slack is out of it. All of a sudden if will stop dragging and get tight and you will feel the rhode trying to lift you up under your foot, that is good as you know it is set. Then give it another small shot of power to check and your good for the night.

    After sailing, motoring in Alaskan waters for over 30 years from Ketchikan to Dutch Harbor I have seen alot of dragging anchors. I currently am Master of a 68' private yacht here in Alaska. I hope these tips help some.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by mad View Post
    It real hard to guess how much scope you have out, better to mark your rhode. I assume you have nylon rhode...

    ...After sailing, motoring in Alaskan waters for over 30 years from Ketchikan to Dutch Harbor I have seen alot of dragging anchors. I currently am Master of a 68' private yacht here in Alaska. I hope these tips help some.
    Somewhere along the line, you'd think you'd learn there's no "h" in rode.


  15. #15

    Default anchoring

    For your information on spelling of rhode. Spelling is USA is rode, traditional spelling in England is rhode.

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mad View Post
    For your information on spelling of rhode. Spelling is USA is rode, traditional spelling in England is rhode.
    Haven't been able to substantiate that claim, but I am working on it. Since your making it, maybe you could provide a reference. In the meantime, every other reference to anchor rode indicates the opposite.

  17. #17

    Default

    If after all of that good information all anyone can do is criticize the spelling of a word, then that's pretty sad.

    All I will add is that when backing down on the anchor, I'll spit into the water and that'll help me see if I'm still moving. Also, if the water is making a V around the rhode/rode/road instead of circles, then you're still moving.

  18. #18

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by skydiver View Post
    If after all of that good information all anyone can do is criticize the spelling of a word, then that's pretty sad.
    It wasn't sad. I included a smilie face.

    What's wrong with a little correction when it comes to nautical terms?

  19. #19

    Default

    An update...

    Wasn't able to find a single reference that 'rhode' is the traditional spelling anywhere, or anytime. In fact, my inquiries turned up the opposite.

    Just "for your information".


  20. #20
    Member Cliffhanger's Avatar
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    Default Thanks again....

    Nitpicking, thread-stealing comments not withstanding, thanks to all who contributed in the spirit of the thread. I appreciate well-written, thoughtful, grammatically correct, spelled-checked posts as much as the next guy, but attitude and approach matter more.

    That said, can anyone contribute information on setting TWO anchors at a time. Is that ever needed?

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