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VOL. 9 NO. 4
Take a class

Anchor overnight

Safe anchoring makes for worry-free sleep

Prepare to launch

You need to consider many factors before dropping anchor for the night.

First, you need protection from the wind and waves to get a good night’s sleep. Nothing is worse than rocking and bouncing all night long.

Study your chart and find a sheltered harbor that provides protection from the wind and boat traffic, which create waves. Look at the chart to check the depth at low tide and high tide. You want plenty of water under your keel at low tide, but you don’t want it so deep that you won’t have enough anchor rode to provide proper scope with plenty to spare at high tide.

Anchoring in the lee, or shelter, of land or a breakwater flattens the waves (short fetch) and makes for a comfortable evening.

While checking the depth, also check for information about the bottom, which affects holding. Sand is always good, while long grasses, soft mud, rocks, and underwater cables can be a nightmare.

Make sure that you have appropriate anchor and tackle for the water and bottom in your anchorage. Don’t rely on a Danforth or fluke anchor for an overnight stay. With tide and current changes, Danforths sometimes fail to reset themselves because the rode binds up between the flukes and the shank.

Once you pick a location out of the wind and waves, consider overnight tide changes and wind shifts. Make sure the boat has plenty of room to swing freely while you’re sleeping. You don’t want your vessel to crash into another boat, buoy or dock overnight.

If possible, anchor with boats that have the same characteristics as your boat. Boats with lots of windage react more to wind direction while anchored, and boats with deeper underbodies (sailboats) sometimes react more to tidal currents than wind. Although a powerboat may set more to the wind while anchored, a sailboat may be on a different heading.
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