Sailing Safely: Anchoring Tips

Anchoring and the multitude of right and wrong ways to do it are the kind of subject that could keep veteran sailors talking all night long. Everybody seems to have an opinion on the best technique and they’re all certain that their way is the safest. With such a wealth of advice to choose from, it can be tricky for the less experienced to know where to start.

Fortunately, anchoring a multihull doesn’t have to be a chore. It takes practice, but it can be a lot of fun once you master the basics. And, it’s a really valuable skill. If you learn to anchor safely, you can get out from the dock or marina and experience exhilarating overnight stays on the water.

So, whether you’re an eager novice looking to take the next step or a long time sailor who’s gotten too cosy with the shore, it’s time to put some seabed beneath your anchor. These handy tips and tricks will give you some advice on what to look out for.

Get Your Depth Right

It is important to know how much the boat draws from bottom to keel. Don’t forget to set the depth sounder from the bottom of the heel, as opposed to the bottom of the hull. You need to let out enough cable to guarantee that you’ll still be afloat in the morning, even at high water. It’s perfectly fine to use data from your GPS, tablet, or phone for this, but you should also cross-reference it with the relevant tidal curve and your almanack. We can’t stress enough that, while technology can get a bit jumpy, paper materials and your own judgement are two tools that will always be available.

Swat Up On the Tidal Action

You should take some time to review the tidal habits in the area so that you know how far to accommodate for their rise and fall at anchorage. When letting out the rode, slowly move the boat aft. This will prevent it from piling up on top of itself. Try to predict which direction the boat will swing if the tide shifts. To prepare for such an occasion, back down a second time at this scope and ensure that the anchor is firmly set.

Steer Clear of a Lee Shore

When searching for the perfect spot to drop anchor, keep in mind the importance of avoiding a lee shore or any area that risks becoming one. You need to stop on a weather shore, with the wind moving in off the land. Otherwise, you’ll make getting out much trickier than it needs to be. Anchoring for the night is quite the adventure as it is; the key to enjoying it is to keep things simple and relaxed.

Mark Your Anchoring Chain

This is a classic tip, but one that will always be useful. If you’re thinking about heading out and anchoring somewhere offshore, we recommend that you grab a can of spray paint and give your chain a makeover first. Even sailors with the best 20/20 vision find it hard to follow distance markings in poor light conditions. So, make them unmissable by ‘tagging’ the anchor chain at every ten-metre point. If you use neon or glow in the dark paint, you’ll never have a problem letting out the chain in the dark again.

Why Safe, Secure Anchoring Is Easier Than You Think

It’s natural to feel a little nervous about your first anchorage. No matter how much you know about sailing, having to place all of your trust in a hunk of metal can feel a bit strange at first. Yet, it’s an important learning curve and a great way to continue building on the relationship that you have with your boat. The first few attempts will likely be a bit wobbly, but if you keep your eyes and your ears open, you’ll be anchoring like a pro in no time.

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