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Anchors and Anchoring


Many of us put a lot of stock in how we choose a boat, we know a boat's motor is important and the design of the hull is just as important. One thing many people don't consider, however, is the anchor. There are several basic types of anchors that are available for use. Each one is designed for a specific purpose.

Types of Anchors
Danforth/Fortress type anchor: This type of anchor is one of the best anchors for holding in many different types of bottom composition. It weighs less than other anchors yet holds better due to its design. These anchors usually perform better when a short length of chain is used as a leader before the rope is attached. Yachtsmen's or Navy type Anchor: This style of anchor is best suited for soft bottoms. It is one of the oldest anchor designs and is considered by some to be obsolete. This type of anchor uses weight in its design to help it dig into the bottom. Grapnel Type: This style of anchor works much like a
grappling hook. It takes hold of debris or rocks at the bottom. It is ineffective on muddy or sandy bottoms but works fairly well out at the jetties. Be prepared to loose this anchor though. Mushroom anchor: This is the choice of many fishermen. It is the easiest anchor to use and works well in many bottom situations. It is very affordable takes up little room to stow. It is an excellent choice for back bays and calmer waters. One drawback of the mushroom anchor is that it often looses its hold in windy or strong current
conditions. Sea Anchor: This anchor doesn't use the bottom to hold the boat in position but rather uses the water. It looks like an oversized windsock and is used to control a boat's drift in high wind situations. The sea anchor is a handy device to have on board. It can be used to control your
drift while drift fishing. It also can save your life in stormy conditions by holding your boats bow into the
wind, when other anchoring methods fail.

Choose an anchor that best fits your most frequent boating applications. Also, it is a good idea to carry more than one anchor on your vessel. Two anchors can come in handy if you loose one, or in heavy current or in windy situations such as a storm. I attatched 2 Danforth anchors together once when I got caught out in a severe storm.

Anchoring and Scope
Here are some basic anchoring guidelines:

Make sure that you use an anchor designed for the type of bottom primarily encountered in your boating area. Even with a small boat, five or six feet of chain is desirable. Shackle the chain to the anchor. Put a thimble on the end of the anchor line and shackle that to the other end of
the chain. Chose your anchor line carefully. A line that is too heavy will actually cause problems because you’ll loose the "elasticity" that absorbs the shock and keeps the anchor well set.
Pick your anchorage carefully. If there are other boats nearby, you will need to "guess" at their potential swing. A boat on a mooring will have very little swing but a Yacht
at anchor may have considerable "scope" out and may swing widely. A shallow draft boat will be more affected, usually, by the wind whereas a deep draft boat will be more affected by the current. Put your bow into the wind or current (whichever is having the greatest affect on your boat), power up slowly to or
just beyond where you want your anchor to lie (keep your anchor scope in mind) and check your forward motion with your reverse gear. Double check to ensure that the end of your anchor line is attached to something sturdy on the boat. Most experienced boaters have watched at least one anchor with line disappear over the bow because they forgot to secure the end. Don’t throw the anchor – it might get tangled. Release it by holding on to the chain or line, making sure that the chain and line are free, and dropping the anchor off the bow.
Once you see slack in the line, feed out the proper amount of scope as the boat drifts back. Average "recommended" scope is about 7 to 1 – that means that if you are in 10 feet of water you will want to pay-out about 70’ of line. You also want to take into consideration the distance between the water line and the bow cleat and also any depth increase because of tides. If the tide may come in another 2 feet and your bow cleat is 2 feet above the water, you are, effectively, in 14 feet of water and would need to pay out around 100’ of line. Up to 15 to 1 scope may be necessary in strong winds or currents.
Once the scope is out, secure the line (cleat and chock) and "back down" on the anchor keeping your bow into the wind/current. Idle speed is usually sufficient to make the anchor "bite" into the bottom and "set." Put the engine in neutral and get your "bearings." Find two points on each beam that form a natural "range" or line and a third either ahead or astern from which you may be able to judge distance. They can be other anchored boats, rocks, buoys or points on land. Sit there for a few minutes to make sure that none of the angles or distances to these points change. Any change would indicate that you are dragging and need to reset your anchor or pay out more scope – or both.
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