As a full time cruiser I prefer to drop my 122lb anchor on 7 to 1 scope of 7/16 G4 chain but living in Coconut Grove near Miami I have seen the benefits of a city mooring field.
The anchorage outside Dinner Key Marina was full of semi-derelicts that would sink at the rate of one every 8 weeks. The City would spend $50,000 every two years raising and destroying these sunken derelicts. It is still possible to anchor outside the mooring field with a long dinghy trip but the number of semi-derelicts has been reduced by 75%.
The Dinner Key mooring field now attracts lots of cruising boats that spend significant amounts of money in the local business community, previously cruising boats were reluctant to anchor close to the semi-derelicts.
I also take note of every anchor I see on cruising boats and 1-2% have such inadequate anchors that I would not use them for my rubber dinghy!
In places where there are tidal swings in the anchorage I far prefer well maintained moorings, not because of the safety of my anchor but because of the 1-2% who are likely to pull and damage my boat.
Very good points, I agree completely...
St Augustine is one of the better examples of a spot I would not necessarily worry about anchoring on my own, but would be VERY reluctant to anchor among a large fleet of cruising boats, if all were lying to an anchor...
Nantucket can be a very challenging anchorage, as well... I always feel much more secure there, knowing that very few others try to anchor, and choose to lie to the outrageously priced, but very secure, moorings instead... :-)
2 winters ago, I rode out a very strong frontal passage in the anchorage in Boot Key Harbor, one that naturally came thru in the middle of the night... You can be sure I was up most of the night, keeping a very close eye on some of the local boats upwind of me - but all was well, and of course some of those anchors are NEVER
coming up out of that bottom... :-)