Anchoring 101

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Having spent more than 5 years of my life on the hook I thought I would start a discussion on anchoring and share some thoughts. It is over 5 years now. Retired 27 years and spend about 3 months a year for most of these years on the hook.
It is to be taken as A way not THE way and are just for the most part, my views.
Sometimes supported by fact.
I have no experience with anchoring in tides and won't offer much here except to figure your scope at high tide, not low.
Anchoring is a way of life for us. We spend the summer on the boat but seldom/never spend a night at a dock.
Last year a couple nights, this year, none.

A proper size anchor of the correct type for your area and enough rode with at least some chain.

A. Fluke / Danforth /Fortress

B. CQR / Plow / Delta

C. Mushroom

D. Bruce

E. Northill

There are many types and I have tried several.

My choice is a Bruce or Bruce type.
There are many good anchors but where I anchor, failure isn't an option. You would be vary lucky not to end up on some rocks.
Others have as high an opinion of their favorite anchor as I do a Bruce but I will offer some opinions here.
Danforth. Good anchor that once set will simply hold your boat. IF the wind doesn't shift and reverse itself.
A Danforth will pull and reset. There is the problem. Any weeds or anything in the end of the anchor and they simply won't reset.

Fortress has the same problem with an added problem. I could never get them to set properly. They are light weight and skid across the bottom to often. My friend had a huge one. He doesn't use his lower helm and had it strapped to the wheel. It went from the floor to the top of his wheel. He had not used it but when he did it wouldn't hold his 35' boat.


A lot of people use them but I have had them fail way to many times for me to ever use them again.
I know many will say they are great but I am speaking from experience here on these anchors.
In the 5 years I have been using a Bruce, both in Michigan and Florida, I have never had one slip.
I had one hook on a sunken log and after 3 days I was drifting. Lifted the huge log with the anchor. Had a hell of a time getting the log off the anchor. I really don't think of that as an anchor failure.
Again, day in, day out, the Bruce is the only one that has not failed. All the others did several times.
A Bruce stays put. It does not pull and reset. That is per Chapmans. I believe that is why they hold so well.
An update here. It has now been 10 years without a failure.

I like all chain and that is what I have on both boats.
The main reason is it works better with a windless
A combination of chain and rope works well also. You want a section of chain to prevent chafing on the bottom.

Have and use enough rode.
5 feet of chain for every foot of water and the distance from the top of your deck to the water must also be part of the depth.
7 feet of rope for every foot of water.
You don't want it to slip, don't cheat here. Call it insurance or anything you want but if you want to be sure, at least that much rode.
You can never be sure but you should sleep at night using these figures.
When possible I exceed them.
I always anchor for the worst of conditions. Sooner or later, usually in the middle of the night you will only be up watching for a problem, not trying to correct for one.
Mark your rode in some way. Paint for example so you know how much you have out.
I have found electrical tie wraps work well and last a long time even through a windless.
Anchor size.
I try to go one size larger than the charts say is enough for my boat.
Chapman says these are storm anchors.
Well I don't want to be trying to set one in a storm.
Again I anchor for the worst of conditions. We often stay for days at a time and things are bound to change.
I want to be prepared.

Bottom type

You can't do much about that except stay away from problem bottoms.
That may be good advise in other aspects of life also.
Thru that in before some other wag does.
In fresh water, weeds are a problem. If you anchor in at least 12 feet of water, weeds should not be a problem.
Weeds are, from what I observe, the #1 cause of anchor failure. They are also difficult to remove from an anchor.
You would do well to stay away from them if you use a Danforth.
Clay is usually pretty good but I had an interesting thing happen this summer in clay. Lifting the anchor brought up a very large section of clay with everything on the top of it like clam shells and some small weeds.
Kinda like a large chunk of broken cement.
The entire layer came. Of course it was when we pulled straight up on the anchor.
The anchor went right through the layer of clay.
Short scope here may have caused a problem.

Deploying your anchor

What I do.
I select exactly where I want my anchor to be.
We lower it over the side with the engines in neutral.
I know how much rode I want out and deploy it all.
I do not back into the rode. I let the wind carry me.
I let the anchor gently work its way in.
I NEVER hurry this process by backing up.
I watch people back up just as soon as the anchor hits the water, let our rode as they do. When the anchor finally grabs, they quit. Not a clue how much rode is out and they let the anchor choose the spot.
Of course by this time they are to close to another boat and have to do it all over again.
Unless there is a strong wind I never back into the rode.
If I do it is at least 10 or 15 minutes after the anchor has had time to set itself.
If you back into to soon you will often just plow the bottom and pull the anchor loose.
Always keep a watch from time to time the first hour or so after anchoring to be certain you are not slipping.
Finally, turn on your drift alarm on your chart plotter.
It will warn you if you are drifting. Something I always do. I keep the circle tight and sometimes in a reversal it sounds an alarm as I go outside the circle a bit. That's OK. I would rather get up and look. Also you know immediately if your anchor didn't set.

Do not use a windless to secure your rode. You can damage your windless.
Tie off to a deck fitting.
If using chain, make a bridle from rope to secure to deck fittings. It takes the strain off the windless and the line will have some stretch ability.
Also remember you can swing a long ways with 100 feet of rode out.
Always be sure you will not conflict with a neighbor.
You have no right to anchor different than someone all ready in the area. Like tie to shore when he is swinging at anchor.
This is just some basics and will likely lead to other questions and ideas.
Anchoring out is one of the better things about boating.
Doing it properly and safely makes it more enjoyable.
It should be a fun experience and not one of worry and stress.
Last year we were in a freak, sudden storm that had winds from 90 to 120 Knots depending who was measuring and where you were.
Our Bruce didn't move a bit.
Many docks broke loose, boats were damaged but we were safe and sound on the hook.
There is another aspect of anchoring out. That is preparing your boat with the proper equipment to do so.
That is a topic for another thread.


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