Our anchoring bible is The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring by Earl Hintz, supplemented by a few other books. Our primary bow anchor is a 27kg (60lb) Manson Supreme, with 60m of 10mm (3/8")  chain spliced to 40 of 16mm (5/8") nylon anchor warp. Our secondary anchor is a 20kg (45lb) Spade anchor with 10' of 8mm (3/16") chain. This can be shackled to 100m' of 16mm (5/8") 3-strand nylon. The spade anchor can be used as either a second bow anchor or as a stern anchor. We also carry an oversized Fortress 9.5kg (21 lb) with 10m of 8mm (3/8") chain and 100m of 16mm (5/8") 3-strand nylon for storm conditions, assuming sand or mud in the Caribbean. We also carry a Jordan Series Drogue for riding to in storm conditions.

We routinely use a snubber made of nylon anchor warp shackled to a chain hook on our primary anchor.

We have a Lewmar electric windlass for the main anchor. The windlass has a manual recovery method if the electricity fails.

1. Picking an Anchorage

Here are the points we consider when choosing an anchorage:

2. Laying the Anchor

Try to arrive at the anchorage relatively early, with enough light to locate potential reefs and other hazards. Besides, if you get somewhere too late, and for some reason you cannot anchor (no room left for example), you need to have extra time to go somewhere else before nightfall.

Once we pick an anchorage to stay in, here's how we will go about picking a spot and laying the anchor. We prefer to pick a spot when the prevailing wind is in effect, so that other boats are lying behind their anchors. That way we can avoid crossing our anchor rode over someone else's (which would mean they could pull ours out when they depart). In the event it is flat calm, or the wind blowing from a different direction, then we have to evaluate where our spot would put us once the boats already anchored move around. If we have to anchor in a calm, we will try to set the anchor towards the direction of the prevailing wind.

The keys to good anchoring are: preparation and slow manoeuvring. And if you miss, no shame: just go around and restart the manoeuvre. And if you do that, do not let the anchor dangle off the bow while circling , OK? Arrange a set of simple hand signals with the crew who will be at the bow to operate the anchor. Therefore, no need to scream and become frustrated. The crew manipulating the anchor and windlass should wear gloves and deck shoes as a minimum protection.

  1. On approach, bring the dinghy up tight behind (if towing it), then start the engine and drop sails, always anchor under power.
  2. From the chart and viewing from a distance, pick a general area to drop the hook in.
  3. One person goes forward.
  4. Prepare the anchor ready for dropping.
  5. Circle around the area, checking how other boats are anchored and lying, watching the depth sounder. Watch the colour of the bottom (if possible) and look for sandy spots. Avoid places where the bottom slopes downhill. If possible avoid grassy areas where it is very difficult to set up anchor.
  6. Pick a spot just behind or off the quarter of another boat and calculate the scope needed according to water depth, state of tide, and weather. Make sure you will have enough room to swing without hitting any other boat.
  7. Go slowly towards the spot, headed into the wind, so that all way is off as we reach the spot.
  8. Slowly drop the anchor and lay it on the bottom, then as the boat drifts back gradually release an additional amount of chain allowing 2/3 of the total desired length out. See the chain chart for the chain markings. Avoid piling chain on top of the anchor. Let the boat drift back in the wind.
  9. Patiently wait and watch her drift back and then slowly turn nose to the wind, telling us that the anchor is holding. If this doesn't happen, assume we're dragging and start hauling in the chain. If that brings her round, then the hook has bitten and we can continue anchoring. If not, then haul up anchor and begin again.
  10. Once the bow comes round into the wind let out more rode to reach the desired scope, and repeat the previous step. For all chain in calm conditions with adequate room we do about 4:1 scope (considering depth, plus tide, plus 4' for the boat's freeboard). We put out a bit more if it's shallow, a bit less if it's deep or very crowded. We increased the scope if it's very windy or rolly. Once we're beyond the chain and into chain and rope, we also increase the scope accordingly.
  11. Once the boat headed back with bow into the wind and the anchor rode going straight ahead, gently go into reverse, and gradually increase RPM's a bit for about 10-20 seconds. Watch the rode tighten, and then bounce when the engine goes back into neutral. If in doubt, feel the rode for vibrations (an indication that it is skipping along the bottom). If the bottom is mud, stay at low RPM's, otherwise we then increase the power in reverse until we are confident the anchor will hold in a blow. This will ensure the anchor is well dug in.
  12. Note our position relative to other boats, and landmarks, and take a GPS reading.
  13. Once she seems to be secure, turn off the engine. If we have all chain out, put on the snubber to add stretch to the rode and take strain off the windlass. Click to see the setup diagram. (Note: This diagram shows a double snubber, but Enchantress currently has a single one, which is perfectly OK.) Put chafing gear on the snubber. If we have all chain out plus some line, tie a dockline with a rolling hitch to the rode, and secure it to a deck cleat to take the strain off the windlass. For the next hour, check our position periodically to make sure we're in the same place.
  14. Consider taking your snorkel mask and fins and go swim over the anchor to visually check it is properly dug in the sand.
  15. If it is extremely windy or you are expecting squalls or a storm during the night consider setting an anchor watch.

3. Chain Scope

Remember to allow for Tide!!

Remember that at low tide the turning circle will increase!!


4. Anchor in Bad Weather

If really bad weather is expected when we anchor we will consider putting out 2 anchors. If we need to limit the swinging circle we will put the anchors at 40deg to each other. Our preference will be to put 2 anchors in series. We will shackle the spade anchor chain (15m) to the Manson Supreme chain about 30cm from the Manson anchor.

When at anchor there are some standard practices that we follow. Additionally, if the weather deteriorates, we may initiate an anchor watch until conditions improve, as follows:

Storm anchoring is described in our hurricane preparation notes.

4. Weighing Anchor

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