One sign of competent seamanship is the ability to anchor without disturbing other boaters or making a spectacle of yourself.
During the years my wife, Joyce, and I were preparing to live aboard, we devised a system of hand signals to help us coordinate anchoring. Joyce manned the helm while I handled the ground tackle. After dark, we used the spreader lights so she could see my signals from the bow.
While we were living aboard, we quickly learned to reconnoiter an anchorage before choosing a spot. As we motored through an anchorage, we checked depths, observed how other boats were anchored, estimated the effects of current and wind, picked a spot that gave our neighbors and us plenty of room, and decided how many anchors to use and how to arrange them.
Unless there was plenty of room, we deployed the same number of anchors in the same pattern as the other boats to avoid problems caused by changes in wind or current.
While we motored slowly into the wind or current—whichever affected the boat the most—I calculated the length of rode I needed and faked it. (Faking is arranging the rode on deck so it feeds without tangling. A randomly arranged pile of rode with the overboard end on top always worked well for us.)
When we reached our spot, Joyce stopped the boat and I lowered the anchor, making sure the chain didn’t fall on top of it. If the wind or current didn’t move the boat, Joyce applied reverse power while I paid out the rode. After the anchor caught, I cleated the rode and Joyce applied full reverse power. If the anchor didn’t move, we were satisfied. –Samuel S. Sanford