How to anchor in the roadstead without destroying the seabed (and the environment)

There is nothing better on a cruise than giving bottom in the roadstead to enjoy 100% of the nature around you. But you have to do it responsibly by practicing all the necessary precautions not to ruin the bottom when you anchor.

In this case the anchor and chain were dropped (rightly) on the sand and not on the posidonia

First and foremost, you will have to be careful to avoid rocky bottoms if possible: anchoring on rock there is a greater chance that the anchor will run aground (and if you don’t have a good diver on board, there will be trouble) and that the chain and anchor will destroy the flora and fauna that live there. The other “criminal” action is mooring on posidonia meadows (useless mooring, because the anchor will never hold well). Grasslands that constitute real forests and are the green lung of our sea. They are nursery and food source for fish and crustaceans and consolidate the seabed by counteracting coastal erosion phenomena.

The anchor and chain have a strong impact on the prairie because they rip out its roots, rhizomes and leaves: each time you pull out the anchor, on average, know that you are destroying 34 positional bundles (one bundle contains 5 leaves), or one square meter. And just one square meter of posidonia comes to produce 14 liters of oxygen per day. “It regenerates anyway,” you will say: false. Posidonia is not a seaweed but a real plant, which grows only one centimeter per year and is very fragile.

Caulerpa Racemosa (image source: Wikipedia, author Nick Hobgood)

The same applies to all other types of algae. Never bottom out on them because you could facilitate the spread of non-endemic invasive species: this is the case with Caulerpa taxifolia and Caulerpa racemosa, which are tropical in origin (they grow rapidly and there are no animals in the Mediterranean to feed on them), a serious danger to our ecosystem. An anchor thrown into a Caulerpa-infested area scatters dozens of cuttings and encourages their propagation.

So, all you are left with is sand. If the water is murky and you can’t see the bottom rely on the charts and maps on your chartplotter to find a sandy area where you can drop anchor (in any case, it will always look clearer to the eye than rock and seaweed bottoms). Here you will do as little damage as possible to the ecosystem.

But if and only if you have the right anchor. In the last issue of the Sailing Newspaper (starting on page 29) we compared sixteen anchor models and discovered that ploughshare anchors(Lewmar, Spade, Rocna) provide a much better hold on sand than traditional “flat” anchors (Fortress, Britany…). Drop anchor only if you are certain that the sandy area under your boat is large enough to accommodate the chain as well (which, remember, for optimal mooring should be at least three times as long as the bottom). And to get back to the invasive species talk: if you find fragments of Caulerpa on the chain or on the anchor, once it has set sail, dispose of them in a bin and do not throw them back into the sea.

You have given bottom on sand and are quiet. Now you should only behave well. It may go without saying, but it bears repeating: when you are at anchor, in order not to harm the environment, do not discharge black water and gray water (it would be better to have two dedicated tanks for ‘reportable’ discharge in the harbor), do not throw garbage overboard, do not be noisy, and if you want to fish, find out about the regulations in the area.

TO REMEMBER. The five moves for a perfect anchorage

1. Approach the anchorage area with the wind in front of you, identifying the sandy area on which you will want to bottom.

2. With the boat stationary, begin to lower the anchor. On sand, “plowshare” models (Lewmar, Spade, Rocna) hold up much better than “flat” models.

3. Yarn the chain as the boat recedes. For a safe anchorage, the calumus (the length of the lowered chain) should be at least three times the depth (if the seabed is 10 meters, row at least 30 meters). It is useful to have colored meters every ten meters of chain to know how to adjust.

4. Wait until the boat is heading into the wind and check the tightness of the anchor, observing conspicuous points on land for a few minutes (or if there is a good diver on board, you can dive to check that the plowshare has caught on the bottom).

5. When you have to hoist the anchor, bring the boat over the anchor before you start to pull it up. To make this easier for you, installing a grippiale can help.



It’s off to hunt! Send us photos of your plastic catches, litter, and shots of your sightings of fish, cetaceans, jellyfish, seabirds! To the Instagram inbox @giornaledellavela, or post them on your profile with the hashtag #medplastic2020, or on the Medplastic Team facebook group! We will award prizes for the most beautiful ones!

The No Plastic 2020 contest is being held in collaboration with Navico, a brand that brings together the boat electronics brands B&G, Lowrance, Simrad, and the dedicated mapping brand C-Map. And that it will raffle off prize vouchers spendable on its entire product range.




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