Top 60 Boating Tips by Boating Magazine

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Many of you will want to take me to task for the headline to this article. You think that's incorrect terminology, and that it should be "Anchors Aweigh". Not, so. This article is about how people fail to anchor properly, and their anchor goes "away", usually for good.

All of you should know the importance of good ground tackle. The sound of the surf on the rocks at night is soothing, but not when you wake up, and although you anchored a mile offshore, realize your vessel is now in the surf. That's a bad way to learn surfing, and an even worse way to learn about proper anchoring equipment and techniques!

There are a number of reasons anchored boats fail to remain in a stationary position. Not in any particular order, they are:

  • Anchor not heavy enough for the vessel size, or conditions encountered.
  • Anchor wrong type for the bottom.
  • Anchor of poor quality, bends, breaks or will not hold.
  • Setting only one anchor when conditions warrant two.
  • Insufficient scope of line for depth and weather conditions.
  • Insufficient length, or no chain between anchor and anchor rode.
  • Chain of poor quality, insufficient strength.
  • Line of insufficient size or strength for load.
  • Failure to secure bitter end of anchor line to a secure mooring point on vessel.
  • Use of windlass brake to hold vessel, rather than mooring point.
  • Poor quality line, deteriorated line or poor splices.

Fittings wrong type, strength or deteriorated.

Anchors and other ground tackle should be chosen for their holding power in the worst type of conditions you expect to encounter. Then, consider going one size up. So, if Murphy's Law is right, and conditions are worse than you ever imagined, at least you will have the best chance of weathering the storm unscathed.

I can't discuss the pros and cons of all available lines, and the proper line to use in every situation. That would take volumes, and an expert on cordage, which I am certainly not. But, line, including dock and anchor lines, should be of the best quality available. It seems ridiculous to moor a quarter million dollar boat with five dollar dock lines. Same for most polypropylene line. You know, that brightly colored line you bought in a discount store, that seems to always be splitting, with strands sticking out all over. That may be okay for occasional use on a play raft or dinghy, but I wouldn't bet my boat, or my life on it.

I have purchased what was alleged to be high quality nylon line, only to have it fray, abrade and deteriorate rapidly. Don't make that mistake. Buy the highest quality line available. You can still shop for price, but don't let low price entice you into low quality.

Line on a boat is like a parachute. When you need it the most is not the time to be wishing you had bought better quality. Then, it's far too late.

Safe Boating.

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