One skill you need to learn before you start to drive your recreational boat is how to anchor it. It’s a good idea to check whether the boat licence course you take teaches this. Otherwise, you may be in quite a fix.
Two reasons may make it necessary to anchor your boat – you may want to stop to have lunch, or to swim or fish, or you may need to stop to avoid bad weather or to prevent your vessel from going into shallow waters or other vessels due to wind or current.
With a little practice, it becomes easy to drop anchor and stop your vessel whenever necessary. It isn’t as tough as it seems. And when you have a little help, you can learn to anchor your boat with ease.
Before you go out on your boat, here are a few simple but effective tips for you.
Find a sheltered place to drop anchor. The purpose of anchoring is to prevent your boat from wind and current; and also to keep it safe from other boats. If you don’t find a sheltered area, this purpose is defeated.
Make sure you have the right anchor. Three types of anchors are used for recreational vessels – plow, danforth (fluke) and mushroom. While the first two are suitable for most boats, mushroom anchors are best suited to small, lightweight crafts.
Note: It’s best to seek advice from a marine supply store to choose the appropriate type of anchor. The decision depends on the type of boat and the waters you ride out to.
Combine sturdy anchor rode. You need something to attach the anchor to the boat. And while fibre line may be cheaper, it is better to opt for a combination of galvanized chain and nylon line for this purpose, as it stands up to abrasion better.
Determine the depth of water. You need to calculate the amount of rode you have to put out to anchor safely. And this calculation needs you to know the depth of the water. So, lower line to check how deep the water is at the spot you want to drop anchor.
Identify the type of bed. The anchor type must match the water bottom. Anchors hold well in sand and mud waterbeds. For rock and coral beds, plow anchors work best. The worst types of beds to anchor are clay, shale or grass bottoms.
Lower anchor; don’t throw it. Making a splash may look pretty but it isn’t a good idea. Throwing it may seem easy, but it may entangle the anchor rode. And it can be difficult if this happens. Instead, slowly lower it to reach the waterbed.
Learn when to stop the boat’s engine. Once you have reached the spot you want to anchor, it is best to stop your engine. You can also put it into neutral. Only after you have done this, lower the anchor.
Note: Never anchor by the boat’s stern alone. It can cause the vessel to swamp, capsize and sink.
Know how to tell a dragging anchor. After you have dropped anchor, you need to put the boat in idle reverse until it fixes firmly. When doing this, place a hand on the line. If it’s set, it will feel firm. If it isn’t, it will shake as the boat bumps and drags along.
Check reference points with relation to the vessel. Look around to understand the exact location of your vessel with relation to fixed points such as houses, towers, rocks, lighthouses and so on. Check after a few hours to make sure your craft isn’t drifting.
Remember, an anchor may be your only chance to stop your boat, so store it at an easily accessible spot. Sometimes, you need to drop anchor at a moment’s notice. This will only be possible if you can find it within a second.
With a little practice, it will be easy to follow these points and do it in a proper manner.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is that it may be necessary to clean the anchor before you take it in. It is also important that you dry the anchor rode before you store it. These little things will ensure that these are in good condition.
A good boat licence course will be able to teach you all these and more.