Five moves to avoid embarrassment with summer anchors

In five points, we summarize the correct steps to take and all the “tricks” you need to know for perfect anchoring

1. Before arriving at the roadstead, check the depth on the chart, the type of seabed (sand, seaweed, rock, gravel) on which you are going to drop anchor. Sealing of a bottom with sand, firm mud or clay is generally very good; with gravel it is fair, while with algae or too hard mud it is almost always bad because of the difficulty of the anchor to penetrate the ground. With rocky bottoms, on the other hand, the anchor very often gets stuck so that it can no longer be retrieved, especially if the lowering has occurred at such a depth that it cannot be reached by simple free diving (we advise against choosing a bottom where to anchor greater than 10-15 meters).

Keep in mind that winds and currents can rotate the boat for an entire circumference around the point where the anchor caught

2. Once you arrive at the roadstead, assess the orography of the coastline, to understand what might happen to your boat in case of changes in wind direction (perhaps indicated by the weather forecast you may have consulted), current, and whether undertow phenomena might develop. Choose a place as sheltered as possible from wind and waves.

3. Then carefully evaluate that there are no buoys and other boats close by: keep in mind that winds and currents can spin the boat an entire circumference around the point where the anchor made its hold, and that it is a good idea to give at least four times as much chain as depth for reliable anchoring. By keeping clear of other boats, then, you will minimize the possibility of overlapping your calumny with that of other boats.

4. As you approach the point where you have decided to anchor, it is a good idea to prepare the chain, checking that it is set up in the chain well in wide swirls so you can be sure it will spin smoothly. Then, with the boat almost stationary, begin lowering the anchor from the bow until it touches the bottom (if the depth sounder is not working you will have to determine the depth of the bottom by, for example, setting the chain in times of about a meter and then counting as you descend, or with an easy-to-recognize signal such as a brightly colored paint job every 5 meters of chain, this way it is then also easy to count how many meters you have lowered altogether at the end of the maneuver). Beware that “dropping the anchor” does not mean “throwing the anchor overboard,” but rather dropping it quickly, but always under the crew’s control.

5. When the anchor has touched the bottom, if there is not enough wind to set the boat back, slowly maneuver in reverse and continue lowering chain and cable to the desired length. Then lock up and proceed more forcefully in reverse so that the anchor sinks with the flukes into the ground and comes to a stop: you will then verify for sure whether the anchor has set (the boat ceases to retreat and you can easily observe this with an alignment on the ground). If you are not sure of the tightness and it feels like the anchor is plowing, one method to make sure is to hold a hand resting on the chain under tension: if it vibrates, it means the anchor is being dragged along the bottom without any grip.


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