For the past few days, my sailing obsession has shifted from toilets to dropping anchor. This skill will be vital if we ever want to move the boat from its current location – which we have to do by October 30th anyway.
Luckily, the internet knows everything. However, reading about it is never the same as doing it. I could read about building a spacecraft, but that doesn’t mean I can then go out and make one.
Then again, anchoring doesn’t seem overly complicated. From what I understand, the most important things to know are what kind of bottom you are anchoring in (e.g. soft mud, grass, rock) and how much swing radius you need. Swing radius refers to a circle around where your anchor is dropped, where your boat could shift to if the wind or current changes. As you let out more rode, your radius increases.
If you’re the only one in the anchorage, you don’t need to worry too much, but if there are other boats around, you have to keep an eye out for their swing radius and make sure they don’t overlap too much.
Not all boats move the same way, either. Powerboats, monohull sailboats, and multihulls like catamarans and trimarans behave differently in the wind and current. So it’s best to anchor among boats that are like yours. I guess that means we need to stick with smaller monohulls.
So you pick your anchoring spot, start lowering your anchor off the bow (not all at once or the rope will tangle), and slowly back up your boat. You should point into the wind or current, whichever is stronger, and let your craft drift backwards. If necessary, a little engine power can help set the anchor properly.
In softer bottoms, you also need to give it some time to settle properly.
Of course, there are a million variations on this and so much depends on the boat and the anchorage, as well as the anchor’s weight and other properties. In some cases, you might even tie the stern (back) of the boat to a tree on land, to keep it from swinging around too much.
Or, in some areas, you can forget the anchor and simply hook up to a mooring buoy, as shown in this Sailing Magazine video.
We’ll have to check out the nautical charts on the boat to start learning about local bottom features around here.
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends.