The art of laying an anchor in open water

March 25, 2017


During the America’s Cup World Series of 2015, I was a volunteer ‘on the water marshal’.

On the second day of the event while instructing spectator boats into designated anchorage areas within the stadium, it struck me how few of the general boating public knew how to anchor in open waters, and especially with a building sea breeze.

I realise now that most pleasure boaters anchor in the lee of the land in shallow water.

Here are some helpful tips on anchoring in open water:

• Although Marine & Ports regulations require only 5’ of chain attached to your boats anchor, I strongly recommend 10’ or greater. The greater the weight at the top of the anchor shank the better it will hold.

• The ratio of length of your anchor line to the depth of water is 6:1. If you do not know the depth of the bottom where you are about to anchor always make the length of your line to the surface of the water greater than 45 degrees.

• You will need an even longer length of line when you are anchoring on an uphill gradient

• Be sure that your anchor and tackle are ready to drop, not throw, when you approach your anchorage area.

• Head your boat directly into the wind before dropping. After doing so back the boat down slowly keeping a slight tension on your anchor line allowing the anchor time to dig into the bottom.

Next week: Anchoring in open water and busy anchorages.

Paul Doughty is a member of The Bermuda Water Safety Council, artist, professional sailing coach, RYA Powerboat Instructor and a licensed Bermuda Pilot with more than 40 years experience.