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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 07-08-2010
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choosing where to anchor

I find that my biggest problem in anchoring is choosing where to drop. All too often I can't forsee how other boats will move and easily imagine where we will end up.

We follow the general advice of motoring about the intended circle but I still find that we drop the anschor, lay out the intended rode but end up in a different spot than I had planned.

Any tips or thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 07-08-2010
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If you have questions, the best bet is to ask the boats already in the anchorage what kind of scope they have out...

If you talk to people, say on a Pearson 30, and they say that they're in 17' of water and have 7:1 scope and three feet to the bow roller from the waterline, they're going to have 140' or so of anchor rode out... They'll swing in a circle 170' in diameter or so, with the center of the circle being their anchor.

Be aware that some boats will swing quite differently than others, and as such, you need to be aware of that. If all the boats are monohulls with fin keels, and you have a centerboard boat, and you anchor with the centerboard retracted as you should, chances are likely that you'll swing a bit differently than the other boats. If a full-keel boat, like an IP 38, comes along, it might swing a bit differently too. If a multihull comes along and anchors, it will often swing very differently, especially if there is current and wind.

If you're nervous... anchor away from other people until you get a better idea of how your boat and anchor act and how your boat swings at anchor. Giving people extra room is never a bad thing...
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Old 07-08-2010
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chain vs rope

Another very important issue is how much chain is attached to the anchor. More chain equals less swinging usually. The bottom line is try to see what others are doing and adjust as you can to fit in AND don't be afraid to ask someone else that comes in later to move if you are uncomfortable with where they anchor.

Also pay attention to what the weather forecast is for the night. If no, or light winds are forecast you can get away with less scope.

Finally, pick a spot that will not drive you into shore or other obstruction if you do drag anchor.
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Old 07-08-2010
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Don't forget to account for the change in depth due to tide. If you're at low tide, this can mean laying out significantly more rode than you'd expect. A 8' tide means laying out another 56' to have 7:1 scope when the tide comes in.
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Old 07-10-2010
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Also, remember to consider the weather/wind forecast as well as currents.

On the West Coast (BC & Alaska) we find that the anchorages aren't too busy, but still sometimes you get somewhere, there's already a few at anchor and you have to just plop it there for the night.

sailingdog is right about talking to other boaters and considering the tide

DwayneSpeer comments rightly on chain but it also depends on your anchor. On Mad Dog Voyager we have a 45lb Manson Supreme with 200' of 5/16 chain. It's a lot of weight in the bow but we've never dragged once in the last three years. Your anchor and chain have an affect on your swing, but also how much scope you need. A test of anchors found that the Manson Supreme, if set at a 5:1 scope, could be pulled in and has almost the same holding power at 3:1. We regularly don't rely on a 3:1 but in a tight anchorage, it's nice.

Also, I find that our anchoring style changes and evolves over time. Many times, providing there are no crazy wind forecasts, we will set our anchor and pull towards shore to set it. Even if a wind pushes us the other way, I sleep better knowing that chances are if the winds shift (which happens lots in Alaska) we're most likely not drifting or dragging towards shore.

As sailingdog says, if you're concerned anchor a little further away until you're really comfortable. I'd rather hop in the dingy to do my visiting than to swing over once the spreaders are tangled together...

Dean
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Old 07-10-2010
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I'm thrilled that the OP asked. So many simply stop, drop the hook and forget.

Good job.

There is often no single right answer, because of the differences in movement described by others.
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Old 07-12-2010
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Thanks for the tips. In general these are things that we consider. I think the biggest problem (espeically when it's a bit crowded) is the visualization of where my xxx ft of scope will put me relative to other boats and their scope.

Of course in the heat of the moment it's easy to lose sight of one piece of the of the puzzle as we did recently and found ourselves where we wanted to be relative to other boats but not to the bottom. (No harm just another lesson learned.)
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Old 07-12-2010
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search through my previous posts for a couple good stories about a couple events that I witnessed over new years about what happens when you don't take the time to learn how to anchor probably.
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Old 07-13-2010
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IF the wind and current are well established and the same direction, its fairly easy to visualize where you will end up. In a crowded anchorage, sometimes the best place to drop is just off the stern of the boat to weather of biggest 'hole' you can find. Deeper water means everyone will swing more and you need a bigger hole.

If no wind or tide, wind is against the tide, or the tide is turning, its much more difficult to see where things will end up. You will have to find a bigger 'hole', and you may have to re-anchor in a few hours if things don't work out--DON'T LEAVE YOUR BOAT UNTIL THINGS STABILIZE.
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Old 07-13-2010
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I'd also point out that you probably want to anchor near like boats... boats that are very different in design may swing to tide and current very differently. My boat, being a very shallow draft multihull, often lies to the wind and current very differently than a deep draft monohull will. As a result, I will often try and anchor in shoal waters that the deeper draft boats can't enter... leaving my swinging circle essentially empty.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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