After the anchor has set and adequate rode has been paid out, take time to ensure you are not drifting. And considering changing winds and tide height and tidal current, it is important to periodically monitor how well your anchor is set.
Check your anchor set manually and electronically. Do this manually by sighting bearings to objects on shore and determining that they are constant. Note that the boat will swing back and forth with the wind making it a little difficult to check that you are remaining steadfastly connected to the bottom. But, over time, you will get a feeling that through each successive swing, bearings to objects on the shore are not changing.
Using an electronic means will give you a more accurate determination of anchor set. If you have a GPS device, turn it on and turn on “show track.” Observe over time the history track of your boat. If the tracks overlay each other then you are holding steadfast. You can also use an anchor alarm on your depth meter. To do this, you set the maximum and minimum allowable depths. If the depth goes out of this range, the alarm sounds. There are also Apps for your mobile device. Here are a few:
This photo was sent in by one of our students. It’s a critical safety item that needs to be addressed by every boat owner at least once per season.
Rusted chain link on anchor rode
Just imagine you set anchor one evening in a nice secluded bay (as you often do) enjoy a star filled evening with a lovely dinner on board. You then retire to bed and wake up as your boat is being POUNDED by waves onto sharp rocks whereby you and your crew may or may not survive. And it’s all because of a weak and rusted one link in your chain that you neglected to check. In theory it doesn’t sound very possible but the photo above should be proof enough for you to check your anchor rode next time you visit the boat and enough to put it on your seasonal checklist. While you’re at it check the connection points and make sure your shackles are wired shut with stainless steel wire. D-ring shackles are known for unscrewing.
Don't let you sailboat go on the rocks like these
The old saying goes like this – “I’d rather be on a boat with a drink on the rocks than in the drink with a boat on the rocks”!
This is the text by which the student made his report to us.
I bought 200 feet of 5/16 galvanized high test G4 chain for my boat Seafox three years ago. It came from a well known and respected chandlery. Supposedly US made. Since most of our sailing is around SF bay or between local harbors it hasn’t seen much use and has been sitting in the chain locker for all that time. Not wet or sitting in water, but the usual chain locker damp. I took it out a couple of weeks ago since I was planning a long race and wanted to lighten the boat and what did I see? One link in the middle of the chain has rusted so badly that I think if I had to rely on it, Seafox would have broken free. This link was about 40 feet in from the end of the chain so hadn’t been sitting in water, and is the only link rusting, other than a slight patch on each of the adjoining links where they were probably touching the rusted one. Anyway it just highlights the need to check. Don’t assume that just because the chain you can see, or usually use is OK, that all of it is.
Thanks Jim for the submission.
If you’re interested in learning more about anchoring, then take the NauticEd Anchoring a Sailboat course. It’s a prerequisite course for the Bareboat Charter Master Rank and rightly so – when you REALLY think about it anchoring skill can be crucial to survival.
Anchoring a Sailboat Course
As you learn to sail, you should be also learning about anchoring. There is more to tossing the hook so to speak.
After doing some research on the internet and looking at some of the tests performed on holding power, I’ve made a quick summary of what I learned.
Anchor types are selected based on the bottom conditions. These are rock, mud, clay, sand, grass, coral and shoal.
Charts will usually tell you what the bottom conditions are, as will local sailors from whom you should never be afraid to ask.
The following shows the type of anchor and the associated bottom that the anchor is best suited for.
Danforth: Works best in sand and mud
Hinged Plough CQR: Works Best in sand, rock and mud.
Hinged Plough CQR Anchor
Non Hinged Plough Delta Anchor: Works best in sand rock clay and mud.
Delta plough anchor
Non Hinged Plough Roll bar anchor: Best for all types of bottoms – sand, rock, mud,clay, grass
Rollbar plough anchor
Bruce Anchor: Best for sand, rock, mud.
The Roll Bar Plough type anchor is a new type of anchor and therefore is not that common yet. However, tests show that it is certainly one of the winners when it comes to selecting an anchor.
While it is generally accepted that mooring is safer than anchoring, there are still some considerations. The following photo from Waiake beach in Auckland, New Zealand is proof of this.
Whilst visiting New Zealand for the purpose of spreading the NauticEd word, we came across this early in the morning after an overnight mild storm.
After talking with the locals, the mooring chains on all the moorings in the bay had recently been replaced about 6 months ago, and so that was not likely the culprit. Upon closer inspection of the boat, the cleat and bollard had broken off the boat due to age and lack of maintenance on the tie off points on the foredeck.
The storm was caused by high winds produced from a low combined with a high as in the following map.
High winds from two weather systems
In the southern hemisphere, lows spin in a clockwise direction and highs spin anticlockwise. The two systems then combined here produced 35 knot to 40 knot north easterly winds. This direction is completely open to Waiake beach (on the north east coast of New Zealand) and thus the moored boats in the bay are vulnerable to these high winds.
What should be done?
- Check tie off points on your boat for rot.
- Check for leakage of water under fittings. Often times water leakage under the fiberglass can rot out the plywood. Creating hidden rot and weak points.
- Tie off onto stronger points on the boat rather than weaker points.
- Use multiple tie off points to spread the load
- Dive the anchor point on the bottom
- Check all chain and rode connections
- Ensure rode is not able to be chaffed
- Use stainless steel wire to lock closed any d-rings
- Check chain for rust. Don’t buy cheap chain for a permanent mooring. You get what you pay for.
Feel free to add to this blog regarding mooring safety.
Learning to anchor a boat is an integral part of your learn to sail lessons. There are lots of considerations. Here we’ll cover one of those considerations – swing!
Care must be given to swing. As the wind changes during the night your boat will move with the wind and can put you into a precarious situation by being to close to the shore. Many times you’ll find an anchorage area with moorings. Remember that boats tied to moorings swing less than anchored boats. In this circumstance you may swing into other boats. Golden rule is “watch your swing”.
Swing path of a boat at anchor
In addition, consideration must be given to the tide. As the tide “ebbs” out, you not only get closer to the bottom but your swing circle grows and the shore becomes closer. This diagram shows your swing path with deep water and correct scope.
Swing of the boat with current and wind changes
This diagram shows that as the tide ebbed out your scope increased as well as your swing path bringing you dangerously close to the bottom and/or shore.
Swing of a boat after the tide goes out
This online sailing instruction comes from Module 9 in the Skipper course. Take the course – you’ll learn a lot about sailing and get the skipper sailing certification.
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