Don't Anchor Too Close to Larry - SailNet Community
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Don't Anchor Too Close to Larry

If you sail into a cove and see Safari at anchor, you might as well just turn around and go back.

No matter how far from us you anchor, Larry is going to turn to me and say, "They're not going to anchor there, are they? ... They're awfully close!" It never fails.

Then I sit through the invariable, "How much chain did they have? ... You're kidding! I can't believe they didn't ask where our anchor was or how much scope we have out."

And if it's a big powerboat, he usually adds, "If they run their generator all night, I'm turning our stereo on full blast!"

This isn't anything new for Larry. He tells me that back in his fishing days as a boy, he once cast a fishing lure right inside another man’s boat. He did it on purpose because the man had anchored too close. Ask his friend Reynold Allen. He’ll confirm it.

Actually, today when another cruiser approaches Safari at anchor, Larry will usually make his presence known to the incoming skipper by casually standing up on deck, often with his arms crossed, in the "defensive anchoring position" as we've come to call it. Larry hopes that this tactic will motivate the anchoring skipper to give more berth to Safari. In all fairness to Larry, this seems to be a popular tactic. I've noticed a lot of men in other boats doing about the same thing.

I think that it must be part of the male gene makeup. Does every man believe he is an expert on anchoring? I wonder. I do know it's rare to come across one who will readily admit that he has anchored poorly, and then move to correct the situation.

These boats were anchored too close for comfort.

In one anchorage in Newport, RD, the skipper of the boat who anchored next to us had not allowed for changes in the wind and tide. We thought the boat was closer than it should be to the nearby powerboat. The couple on board quickly jumped in their dinghy and went ashore for the afternoon, leaving us to worry about the proximity of the two boats. When the tide started changing and the two boats displayed different swinging patterns, contact was imminent.

We had just started putting out fenders to protect our boat when the owners of the powerboat returned. We fully expected the captain to apologize and start his engine in order to immediately re-anchor. But, instead, he told us that he anchors here all the time and that there was no worry. He was certain that his anchor was set well. Then, before he turned away, he told us he had some fenders that he could put out also.

Larry and I looked at each other in amazement and discussed our next course of action. Luckily, at this point it appeared that the guy's wife was telling him in no uncertain terms that they were too close to us and needed to move. Sheepishly, he came back up on deck and told us he had decided to move after all "just in case."

This anecdote leads to a topic that we spend a lot of time discussing with other cruisers: At what point is another boat anchored too close to you, and how do you communicate that to the skipper without questioning his or her seamanship abilities?

Typically, anchoring takes place at the end of the day when everyone is tired from the journey and looking forward to being set for the night. Telling someone you think they need to move not only says you believe their judgment is bad, but can also set off a possibly unpleasant relationship. It requires that these fellow cruisers, who have just relaxed for the day, get up and work again. Most cruisers out here are very responsible, but once in a while you run into some who don't seem to know any better.

When we anchor we like to make sure that we are never the cause of another boat feeling uncomfortable with our being there. Our policy on Safari is that we will never retire for the night worrying about our proximity to another boat or obstacle, or the possibility of a boat to windward of us dragging in the night if strong winds are predicted. Even if we had anchored first, we'll pull anchor and move to where we know we'll sleep better. It will take only one instance of re-anchoring at 2 a.m. for you to adopt this policy too.

Safari anchored in Mud Hole, ME, another serene and beautiful setting.

There are many aspects of the cruising life that are very special to us, but if we had to do a top-10 list, our times at anchor would be right up there. As cruisers, we are fortunate to have nearly unlimited free access to an endless array of extraordinary, scenic locations --locations that because they can only be reached by water, usually only the cruiser can ever savor.

In all seriousness, if you do come across Safari in an anchorage, I hope you won’t turn around and go back. After you've set your anchor successfully, I can assure you that Larry will be the first person to dinghy over and invite you back to Safari for happy hour.

Anchoring Check List

  • Make sure your ground tackle is properly sized for your boat and for the conditions that you expect to encounter.

  • Listen to the latest weather forecast and know if the weather could change in the middle of the night and that you will be okay in your chosen location.

  • Check the tides and how they will affect the water depth. Make sure that you will have enough water under your keel at low tide and, conversely, enough anchor line out at high tide to provide adequate holding. (For instance, in Maine, the tidal difference can exceed 20 feet)

  • Survey the adjacent boats in the anchorage and whether they are anchored or moored. (Boats on a mooring have a smaller swinging radius). Note the amount of rode they have out and where their anchor is located.

  • If any boats have more than one anchor out, know the location of both anchors.

  • Make sure you have enough swinging room once you've let out a minimum scope of 7 to 1.

  • Develop hand signals for use when anchoring to ensure good communications without needing to yell. (Remember, you're the only one with the motor on; everyone else in the anchorage can hear just fine.)

  • Back down hard on your anchor to ensure a firm set. Take a bearing at that time. Confirm later that you have not dragged.

  • Make sure that you are comfortable in that spot and that you are not making another boater anxious.

  • After you have checked all these points, you're ready to kick back and relax.

    Sue & Larry is offline  
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