There are basically two reasons to anchor. First is to attach your boat to the bottom of the lake as you enjoy lunch, fishing or you spend the night. In other words, to enjoy your nautical experience.
The second reason is because you have an emergency that requires you to keep your boat in its present position. For either reason, you need to know the best techniques to follow and then practice so that the procedure goes off without a hitch.
What type of anchor is best? That depends a lot on your boat, what kind of anchoring you do and the makeup of the bottom. There are several different types of anchor, including the plow, grapnel, mushroom and danforth, but the techniques cited apply to all anchors.
When you are buying an anchor, your merchant should have a chart that will recommend the size of the anchor relative to the size of the boat. I do a lot of anchoring and choose to buy one for the next larger size boat than mine.
Many of us also attach 6 to 12 feet of chain between the anchor and the anchor line. (The anchor line is called a rode). This puts additional weight on the anchor and makes "getting a hook" easier and dragging less likely.
The usable length of the rode should be at least as long as 10 times the depth of the water in which you usually anchor. In my case, the rode is 100 feet long.
Normally you want the scope to be 7:1 -- that is, the depth of the water times seven. So, if you have 100 feet of rode you can anchor in water that is 14 feet deep and have a scope of 7:1. If you are just anchoring for a short time and the weather is good, it's OK to reduce the scope to 3:1 or 5:1.
Here is a good anchoring procedure:
Choose your site by motoring around where you want the anchor to be to determine if the water depth is OK. This is important because when your boat swings around the anchor because of wind or current changes, the boat should not go aground or hit something.
Next, cruise up to your chosen anchoring spot heading into the wind. Come to a complete stop and slowly lower the anchor. Do not throw it! Throwing could tangle the rode with the anchor.
Once the anchor is on the bottom, slowly back the boat until there is about three times as much rode out as there is depth. Holding the rode in your hands, you will be able to feel the anchor as it drags over the bottom. When it "sets" firmly into the bottom, you will feel that, and the boat will stop.
After the anchor is set, let out the rode some more to get the correct scope. You might then want to tug on the rode by adding a little reverse power to be sure you have a good hook. Then attach your end of the rode to a cleat on the boat.
As you can see, it is important to know how much rode you have in the water. That can be done by marking your rode every 10 feet with duct tape or some other marking. You just need to remember how many markers have gone into the water.
It is a good idea to look at several objects on land, such as special trees, rock formations or buoys. If these objects stay in their position relative to the boat, then you are not dragging. If they change position, you may need to reset the anchor.
Experience is the best teacher, so practice the procedure.
"Anchors aweigh, my boys, anchors aweigh.
Farewell to foreign shores,
We sail at break of day, day, day ..."
John L. VanOsdol is commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, CSRA Flotilla. He can be reached at (864) 391-2170 or at email@example.com.
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