Tag Archives: how to anchor

Anchoring Etiquette

Home | General Content | Anchoring Etiquette

Boaters usualAnchoringly know that anchoring in the channel or the fairway is not only a bad idea, but illegal. and unsafe.

Most of the time, it’s not that simple.  How’s your anchoring etiquette?

The First Boat In Sets The Rule

You motor around the point into your favorite cove, and you see another boat already anchored, swinging off a single hook.  Etiquette dictates that you do the same, dropping your single hook on a spot that will keep you clear of the other boat when wind and tide change.  If it’s relatively shallow, some of us  even buoy the anchor, so others will know where it is (a spare fender and a few feet of paracord will usually do).

Then, how do you compute the swing radius – yours and the other boat’s?  You can always do the math of a right triangle using water depth and scope to get the unknown – the distance from the boat to the anchor,  But, assumptions of a 7:1 scope aside, that swing radius is going to change.  Tides rise and fall, wind and currents change, and different boats react differently to those changes.

Keel sailboats react faster to current shifts, and later to wind, while power cruisers, especially those with two or three deck levels, react to wind faster than current.  To make it even more fun, boats using all-chain rodes usually lay to scope of 3:1, as opposed to the 7:1 typical of boats with a rope rode.  And funner yet, the other skipper may have more rode out than you thought, and you’ve swung to lie right above his hook, of course just when he/she is trying to leave – no big deal, unless you’re not on your boat and didn’t leave an anchor watch.

You Set the Rule

You come around the point to the “hot spot” on a summer Saturday and you’re the first to arrive.  When that happens, the basic rule is to set two anchors – bow and stern – which allows more boats to enjoy the day.  After you’ve set the two hooks, you can call “first in”, and there’ll be the usual shouting when the fleet arrives, but you’ll be there, and in good shape.

Don’t Be In A Hurry to Get Off

As tempting as it may be, don’t jump into the dinghy with your picnic or clamming basket in hand.  Take the time to be sure you’re not dragging the hook.  Take a couple of “ranges”, by lining up two stationary object ashore – in two or more directions – a couple of trees, rocks, etc.  Wait a while, and if they stay in line, you are secure.  Then go where you must go.  Leaving crew on “anchor watch” to deal with emergencies is a good plan if you’re going to out of sight of the boat.

Now you’re a good anchor neighbor.  Etiquette means good manners, and good manners make friends.