Choosing your anchorage

Choosing your Anchorage:  the setting, the weather, & the other boats 

  • Think about what you are planning on doing while at anchor, and choose a location that will suit you during all your activities (swimming, going ashore, sleeping comfortably)
  • Lee Shore Think about your lee shore. Make sure you have the right distance from it. 
  • Seabed: Look up what type of seabed you are anchoring in and choose wisely where you set your hook:  
    • Sand – good hold, most anchors
    • Rocks – hmmm maybe too good a hold??? Definitely use a tripping buoy just in case.  Better with some anchors such as a Fisherman’s anchor
    • Seaweed – not a good hold, and environmentally we really try to avoid disturbing this type of seabed.  If you are in an area with a lot of seaweed, have your bowperson look for an open spot of sand/mud and try to stop the anchor exactly in it, by coming just forward of the patch and having the anchor reach the ground on the border of the area so that if ends and holds inside the sandpatch. 
      • For example, in the Mediterranean we are super careful around areas with Posidonia seagrass.
    • Mud – good hold, once anchor is actually set. A Danforth anchor with wide flukes is a good choice.
    • Coral (This is a trick question.  You do NOT anchor on a Coral Reef!) 
  • Be aware of the wind direction both now and the predicted weather patterns later in the day/night and how they affect your lee shore 
  • Be aware of tidal stream changes if any… remember it will probably end up turning your vessel up to 180.. what happens to your lee shore then? 
  • Be aware of other boats.  This is one thing that challenges our students the most, the choice of a good spot among other vessels.  
    • Look at the boat types around you.  Notice how the similar boats will lay the same way to the wind or tide.  If you choose to be closer to similar boats to your own, you should be relatively comfortable that you will all swing in unison as the wind direction/tidew changes.  
    • Think about their swinging radius, and assume that they have laid out a bit more scope on their rode than the standard 4x depth.  Just so that you will not be caught out if they have.
    • If you anchor right behind them, at their stern (“dropping it in their cockpit”) then you should be reasonably comfortable that you will not be fouling anchors or smashing into each other later in the day.
    • If the wind has been light and is expected to increase, the rode will probably not be stretched out so consider that the swinging radius might be greater than you think.
    • If you can, use a buoy to mark the location of your anchor for your and your fellow cruisers’visual reference.