anchoring your boat

Anchoring your boat, seems simple right? I can’t tell you how many cases over the years arise from not anchoring your boat properly.

Anchoring a boat is a basic skill that every boater needs to know. Understanding how to set the anchor and retrieve an anchor is critical—an anchor can hold your boat in place in a secluded cove for a few hours of swimming or an overnight stay. An anchor is also a piece of safety gear. If your boat engine fails, a well-set anchor will keep wind or current from drifting your disabled boat onto a shoal or ashore, where it could be damaged. There are many types of anchors. To find the best one for your boat, check out this link:

I recommend a good seamanship guide or boating course to go into the details of anchoring your boat, but here are a few tips:

Anchoring your boat safely

  1. Determine the water depth where you want to drop anchor.
  2. Calculate the correct amount of anchor scope (a 7:1 ratio is recommended).
  3. Lower the anchor and let out enough scope, then secure the rope to a bow cleat.
  4. Ensure there is no drag—use landmarks or onboard electronics to measure movement.
  5. If needed, reset the anchor.
  6. To retrieve the anchor, slowly motor toward the anchor while pulling in the rope.
  7. Remember, never tie off an anchor to the stern of a boat.

Setting an Anchor

  1. Try to determine the water depth where you want to drop anchor. If you can, using a depth finder if one is on the boat. Water depth will determine the correct amount of anchor scope required; scope is the ratio of the length of the anchor rode you will want to pay out to the depth of the water.
  2. A scope ratio of 7:1 (seven feet of scope to one foot of water depth) is usually recommended, when there is room. If, for example, you know the water depth is 10 feet, motor into the wind or current about 70 feet beyond the point where you want to the boat to lie on anchor, and drop the anchor.
  3. Then, either let the wind or current carry you back 70 feet, or move the boat in reverse that distance if there is no wind or current.
  4. When you’ve let out enough scope, secure the rode to a bow cleat.
  5. Then apply some power in reverse to set the anchor in the bottom.