Anchoring: How to choose and use an anchor

Regardless of the type of boat you own, an anchor of the right size and type is arguably the most important piece of safety gear to have on your boat. The anchor fixes the vessel to a certain position and keeps the vessel from drifting away, due to current or wind. In an emergency situation is one piece of equipment that could save you and your vessel.


Ancient anchors

Ancient anchors consisted of large stones, basketfuls of stones, sacks filled with sand, or in some cases, logs of wood loaded with lead. There is no exact record as to the invention of anchors but the first mention of the definition of an anchor is found in Chinese literature.
The word anchor is Greek in origin, meaning “crooked” or “hook.” Ancient Greek  used these early anchors to put in for trade at the mouth of the Nile. The first iron anchors were designed by the Greeks. Stones heavy enough to hold merchant galleys were impossible to retrieve from the deep delta mud. The more efficient iron anchors were much lighter.

Today's anchors

Today anchors come in all different shapes and sizes and it is important to find the one that is right for you and your vessel. Common mistakes when anchor is not letting enough anchor rope out, having the wrong anchor and not having right length of chain. Once you have chosen an anchor, it is vital to ensure it is set up correctly. Another thing you have got to make sure is you have enough chain. A chain is your friend when it comes to anchoring. A good rule of thumb is at least one boat length. Whit massive ships it is not actually anchor that holds them in place, it is the weight of the chain. The anchor is simply there to hold the end of the chain in position. It allows the chain to lay flat along the seabed before rising to the ship. If the wind or current starts to tug the ship backwards, the chain stretches out as it starts to move. We get light weight which increases through medium weight to heavy weight. So, with the chain under heavy weight, you can see that it is stretched out at quite an angle. The anchor itself is just keeping the end of the chain in position and the sheer weight of the chain is what is keeping the ship in position. The curve that chain makes is called a catenary.

With a well set up anchor and at least one boat length of chain, the next trick is to ensure you let enough anchor rope. The normal rule for anchoring is if it is a good day, and you have not got much breeze, you only want to put about three times the depth out, but it is starting to get a bit windy then you probably want to look at putting at least five times your depth out. Once you have picked an anchorage, head into the wind or current, drive slowly to where you want to drop the pick and lower it to bottom rather than just throwing the whole thing over the side. When you are anchored, take a point of reference off the land, that way you will know if you are dragging.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”

When anchoring your boat:

  • have enough chain, at least one boat length,
  • let out enough rope,
  • slowly reverse as you deploy the anchor,
  • give yourself plenty of swing room,
  • take a point of reference to ensure you do not drift.