Anchoring - top tips

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Learn the safest ways to anchor your vessel each night with our simple guide to anchoring.

One of the most concerning aspects of bareboat chartering for inexperienced sailors is anchoring safely each night, but you shouldn't have any problems if you observe the following simple steps.

Let's assume you've done your homework with your chart and you've determined a safe anchorage area with regard to the prevailing weather conditions, particularly the current wind forecasts. Your engines are running, your headsail furled and mainsail dropped. Your dinghy is either tied short alongside or on the davits, and you're approaching your anchorage location while motoring in idle into the wind.

Once you have confirmed the exact anchorage location you desire:

  1. Stop the boat.
  2. Before advising the crew on the foredeck to drop anchor, put the boat into reverse and idle astern.
  3. As soon as you start moving astern, call for the anchor to be dropped. As you are already moving astern at idle, the anchor will lower to the sea floor, set and then immediately lay out the anchor chain neatly across the sea floor.
  4. Remain in reverse and let out adequate chain for the depth of water you are in.
  5. Remember the golden rules: let out at least four times the expected maximum depth for the tidal period you will be there (i.e. four times the maximum depth at low tide, as well as high) and if in doubt, let more out and always allow for extra chain in high winds.
  6. Your chain should be marked every 10 metres (most charter vessels are) so your crew will have observed the quantity of chain you have released. Once sure sufficient chain has been released, lock off the anchor winch gypsy or release the automatic down button on the handset.
  7. Leave your engines in reverse until you can feel the chain go rigid and that even in neutral you are holding your position. You can confirm this by looking at the water alongside you or selecting an object on the shoreline and seeing if it remains in the same position relative to the deck of the boat.
  8. If fitted, shackle the snubber or bridle and give your engine a couple of revs to test and set the anchor.
  9. Turn the engines off, make yourself a cold drink, sit back and enjoy!

Happy anchoring!

A lady sailing in the Whitsundays