Rules of Anchoring

Considering how much investment is at stake, your boat’s anchoring system should not be taken lightly. Anchor selection is determined by the size and type of your boat, the weather, and the anchoring conditions in which you frequently anchor. 

Improperly anchored boats are more likely to slip anchor and drift, causing significant property damage and environmental damage. By knowing how to anchor, boaters can reduce or even avoid other causes of accidents.

There is no requirement by Federal Law to carry an anchor. Still, it is recommended that you take one that is sufficiently large and strong to stabilize your boat for an extended period, such as overnight, or in an emergency case, such as if you run out of gas.

In bad weather or when the engine fails, anchoring a boat is a common practice to protect it from running aground and to allow it to stay in the water overnight for swimming, fishing, and other activities.

An appropriate anchoring location should consider the following factors:

  • The ideal location is an area that provides maximum protection from the wind, currents, and other boats.
  • Consider the depth of the water and the type of bottom. A sandy or muddy surface is ideal.

Types of Anchor 

It is essential to select the correct type of anchor based on the bottom characteristics of the areas where you intend to anchor most often. Next, choose an anchor size that fits the boat based on size and weight. 

types of anchors

Danforth Anchors: Often used in areas where mud, grass, or sand frequently clog anchor holes, a Danforth Anchor is a lightweight anchor with two pivotal “flukes” that help dig easily. They are light and powerful and ideal for small recreational boats. 

Mushroom Anchors: In terms of shape, Mushroom Anchors are similar to mushrooms. Thus, the name. Anchors of this type are used extensively for moorings and may weigh several thousand pounds. Their shape works best on soft bottoms, where they offer strong suction. Mushroom Anchors are decent as a lunch hook in small boats but are not helpful in larger boats. 

Plow Anchors: Plow Anchors work best on rocky bottoms, weeds, and grass but are not recommended for soft bottoms. On open water, their high holding power makes them ideal for windy conditions. 

Setting Anchor

Reviewing your chart for bottom characteristics, ensure you are anchoring in a safe and allowable location. When there are rocks, reefs, or other boats to expect, give them a wide berth. 

Following these simple guidelines will get you anchored in no time:

  • Ensure that your crew wears a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) before setting or retrieving an anchor or mooring.
  • Make sure you are using the appropriate anchor type for your vessel. Anchors can be classified into several types: Danforth Anchors, Mushroom Anchors, and Plow Anchors. 
  • Connect the anchor with a 3-6 foot long galvanized chain. It will be resistant to damage caused by sand and rocks.
  • By attaching an anchor swivel to the chain’s end, you can create a combination known as a “Rode.”
  • As a general rule, you should let out five to seven times as much anchor line as the depth of the water added to the distance between the surface of the water and the point at which the anchor attaches to the bow when determining how much anchor line to let out.
  • Secure the anchor line to the bow cleat, and point the boat’s bow toward the wind.
  • Once the boat has come to a complete stop, place the engine in neutral and slowly lower the anchor until the anchor line has been released. It is not advisable to throw the anchor overboard.
  • Set the anchor firmly on the bottom by lowering the anchor with the engine idling in reverse.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to note nearby reference points or landmarks you can monitor to ensure that your boat does not drift once the anchor has been set.

chart showing proper way to anchor a vessel

An Overview of The Dangers Associated With Stern Anchoring

Boat operators must know they can never anchor a watercraft from the stern. The transom of most boats is squared off with less freeboard than the bow, resulting in many boats capsizing and sinking when anchored from the stern. In particular, small boats are at risk. Additionally, the stern may carry the motor’s weight, additional gear, and the fuel tank. Boats can sink if a strong current pulls them under. As a result of large waves, boats that are anchored at the stern are also susceptible to swamping.



Take My Boat exam on a tablet