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Old 06-10-2012, 09:09   #1
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Anchoring Advice?

I just got back from my first cruise and was pretty concerned about the anchorage on it.

It was my first time anchoring with the intention of sleeping. It worked out fine, but, the little cove had ledges poking up all around. It was an anchorage marked on the charts (Kimball Ilsand near Isle Au Haute in Penobscot Bay, ME).

We were rocked a bit in the middle of the night (tide change?) and that added to the uncertainty of the anchoring.

I used a danforth anchor at the bow and gave it some slack for the tide. It didn't seem to bite in very good, but, we held position for a few hours before turning in for the night.

My boat is a '69 Bristol 24 that displaces about 6000# plus people and gear.

Any advice on anchoring would be really appreciated.



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Old 06-10-2012, 09:32   #2
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

1. Ensure that the bitter end of your anchor Rode is secured to your boat. Had students put out an anchor and all of the rode.
2. You draft and the tide will determine where you can anchor safely. Just be sure that on spring low tide you still have water under your boat. And if you are not sure about whether you have room to swing on your anchor, then 'stream moor' with an anchor out fore & aft. Why? On some rivers I've seen the current reverse pending on the whether you have an Ebb or a Flood current.
Anchor dragging? Had that problem a time or two... Got underway to find a better moorage for my boat. That is the only real cure for that problem...
How much anchor rode to put out? Depends on the currents, weather and the damn fools that anchor around you. 5 to 7 times the depth of the water at high tide. And if the weather kicks up, you can lenghten it out to 10 times the depth. But if you are still dragging.... Get underway and find a better Anchorage.

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Old 06-10-2012, 09:53   #3
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

The basics:
* Check the chart for rocks etc in the anchorage
* The chart will also note what type of bottom, sand or shell being probably the best.
* Lower the anchor slowly, once it's on the bottom, let the boat drift back with the wind until you have at least 5:1 rode out.
* Snub off the rode and let the boat settle to the anchor for a few minutes.
* Visually align two things on shore, like a nearby treetop and a further away treetop/rock etc. If these stay stationary in relation to each other you are not dragging. (or just do this while backing down)
* Back down on the anchor with the motor in reverse, do this gradually increasing rpm to maybe....1500 or so.
*Pick two more things to visually check if you are held in place. If so... you're done!
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Old 06-10-2012, 10:09   #4
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

You might also consider adding an additional, new design anchor to your boat. Danforth anchors are excellent in many conditions but may not reset well if the wind or currents reverse and your boat pulls the anchor around in the opposite direction.
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.

Sometimes it's necessary to state the obvious for the benefit of the oblivious.

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Old 06-10-2012, 10:16   #5
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

you did not mention how much chain you have - big difference with a lot of chain or almost no chain -

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Old 06-10-2012, 10:34   #6
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

Hi Muscongus,

What a great time of year for cruising in Maine. Good for you! We're just a few miles away in Brooklin. You'll get plenty advice, I'm sure, but the bottom line is that with experience you'll get more comfortable sleeping on the hook, though a little discomfort is good, because this keeps you on your toes! For example, if you feel the boat start rocking at 3am, it's probably the tide switching, so take this opportunity to enjoy the stars for a few minutes as you watch the boat swing and face into the current in a new direction. Sight a couple of objects on shore, or check your GPS, and when you feel comfortable that the anchor is holding nicely you will be able to go back to sleep.

A couple of thoughts (in addition to the above):
1) though a large Danforth can certainly hold a 6000# boat, it's not the ideal anchor for cruising in Maine. In thick eel grass or kelp it may not hold properly, and in anchorages with current it may trip and fail to reset when the tide reverses. I'll bet over the winter you can find yourself a good deal on a used Delta or Bruce (or something like a Manson or Rocna for a little more money).
2) Calculate your scope based on the depth at high tide, plus a couple of feet for the height of your bow. So if you anchor in 10 ft at low, and it's an 11 ft tide, then a 5:1 scope is 115 ft ((10+11+2) x 5).
3) When anchored in a small anchorage with rocks around (ie, most anchorages in Maine), calculate your swing room at low tide. Note where your anchor was dropped/set and plot this on the GPS or paper chart. Imagine a circle with a 115 ft radius around the anchor. This is where you may swing in the middle of the night. Make sure this circle isn't uncomfortably close to the rocks at low tide.
4) The biggest key to a good night's sleep in Maine is to avoid anchoring near channels that become lobster boat thoroughfares at 5am! This way you can choose to sleep in if you have a rough night on the hook!
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Old 06-10-2012, 21:22   #7
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Thanks everyone! I expect to do a lot more cruising next season and will definately be anchoring often.

I never considered the 5:1 rode. Everytime I have anchored, it has been to add enough line for high tide plus a few more feet & I have been spotting the point with an eye for items like rocks and lobster bouys.

This was the first time I remained anchored more than a couple hours. I felt pretty good about the anchoring because we hadn't moved in the few hours before turning in. I think it was the change in tide that got me worried.

Someone had mentioned that my boat's draft was needed info - it is 3-1/2 feet.

@cfarer: Hope to see you sailing sometime! I just picked up this little B24 and love it! I'll be parting ways with my Tanzer22 next year and sticking with the Bristol until I need to step up. She's called 'Chanticleer'.

I'll see about getting a different anchor, too.

Someone asked about chain length - chain's about 4' long and I have about 60' of anchor line attached to that.

Not too sure where I can anchor and avoid lobstermen though...
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Old 06-10-2012, 22:03   #8
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

Something else to consider is that you'll really get to know certain anchorages and will be able to get the "sweet spots". For new coves, error on the side of deeper and far enough away from rocks that you can dump out a ton of scope. If you'll be there for a few days or plan on coming back, dinghy around a bit and check things out.

Some of the best anchorages around here are really tucked between rocks that look down right intimidating and there's no way someone unfamiliar with the area would know how to work with it. For anchorages I don't know about other than guide books and charts (sometimes just charts), I take my half out of the middle and dump scope.
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Old 06-10-2012, 23:42   #9
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

[QUOTE=Muscongus;1053016]Thanks everyone! I expect to do a lot more cruising next season and will definately be anchoring often.

Someone asked about chain length - chain's about 4' long and I have about 60' of anchor line attached to that.


Well, the first thing you will need is a LOT more chain and rode. As a minimum I'd suggest 50 feet of chain (5/16 " will do) and 200 feet of nylon rode, 1/2 inch or better 9/16 (14 mm). The latter can be three strand, but either double braid or 8-strand plait is easier to handle and stow. If not already on teh boat, some sort of anchor roller on the bow is a necessity as well... reduces chance of chafe and will help protect your back if there is no windlass.

You will get lots of conflicting advice about what anchor to use. My own preference these days is the Manson Supreme, but there are lots of good anchors about. I'd use at least one size larger than the anchor vendor suggests. With such gear you will be able to anchor safely in close to 50 feet of depth and ride out normal summer storms.


Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Sandy Bay, Hobart, seein' the big smoke!
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Old 07-10-2012, 00:23   #10
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

Originally Posted by cfarrar View Post
Hi Muscongus,

... In thick eel grass or kelp (a Danforth) may not hold properly.....
If there's lots of these bottoms where you need to anchor, it's worth considering, not a new design, but the oldest of the lot.

A fisherman, (what sailors have tattooed on their arms) if of sufficient size and weight, is hard to beat in these particular conditions

An appealing fringe benefit:
there are virtually no bottoms, other than glacier-polished rock or similar, where it will not hold. In irregular rocky bottoms, they are the deal, IMO.

So it's a good thing to have on board; they can be dismantled and stowed in the bilge.
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Old 07-10-2012, 00:27   #11
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

yes mate, dropping the anchor and then letting out a few feet sounds like the anchor is pretty much vertically below the boat. You are lucky you didn't drag it
I dunno who told you how to do it like that..maybe a charter company !
You really need to have out enough chain and rhode for at least 5:1. i.e. if you drop the anchor in 10' of water and the anchor roller is 4' above the water, (10+4) x 5 = 70'
Heres a pretty good guide with pictures
Fortress Anchors - Safe Anchoring Guide
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:42   #12
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

Lots of good advice, but I thought I'd put in my 2 cents worth.
You can never have too much anchor gear. I'm not familiar with Maine waters, but I've anchored world wide, in some places with 40 foot plus tides and current that makes a wake going by the boat. Scope is for sure a priority (3 to 1 w/ chain minimum, by the way), and plenty of chain, especially in rocky bottoms with line. In the SoPac I'd even buoy the chain/rope connection (and the whole rope at times) so the coral wouldn't cut the rope. In rocky bottoms a trip line to the back of the anchor to pull it out backwards, if it gets caught in the rocks, isn't a bad idea.
I, personally would not use a fisherman in any place where the current changes 180 degrees as it's very easy to wrap the anchor line or chain around the upper fluke as the boat swings around.
My favorite anchor for 1/2 a century was a genuine CQR, but after watching other sailors here in the Caribbean last winter, I wanted to try the Rocna. Through good fortune I found an 88# Rocna for a pittance and have it in the water as I write this, but we've had no wind this summer to test it out seriously. We use all chain (200' with more coming) on our #1 anchor with a 30', 1" nylon snub line, and I surely sleep better than I would on chain/rope (and sail around a lot less). Our #2 is 50' of 3/8ths chain with 300' of 1 1/4" nylon braid on a 65# genuine CQR. #3 a 45# Bruce, and #4, a 45# Danforth, each with 35' of chain w/200' of 1" three strand nylon. Never mind that we've 2 more anchors, I think you get the idea.
No one else has mentioned it, but you must use nylon for anchor line (and dock lines) because it stretches much more than Dacron and elasticity is and important part of anchoring.
In extreme conditions you should have some chafe gear aboard to protect your anchor line from wearing through (chafing) and I'd recommend carpet remnants with the soft side to the line.
"Any a**hole can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one". This was told to me by Spike Africa, a real "Cape Horner" when I was 15, working aboard the schooner Wanderer, built in 1886.
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:10   #13
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Thanks again - I really appreciate all the insights and friendly advice.

I took sailing lessons last season at an outreach from the local college and had a great instructor on making the boat go - Racer instead of a Cruiser. He had us drop anchor, give it a tug to set it, pay out line as I described myself doing. He did not seem too up on anchoring (must be the racing thing).

Seems that my biggest issues in Maine are the bottom requiring a different anchor and finding a spot where, as I swing, I won't get tangled in the lobster bouys.

I'll see about finding a new anchor over the winter and scout the charts for places to anchor that are a bit out of the way for the lobstermen.
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:48   #14
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

As a fellow Mainer in Penobscot, you have received a lot of very good information from the folks on the list. Since you rarely find mud up here in the anchorages (mostly gravel and frequently with boulders--where you anchored at Kimball it is gravel and boulders) you are going to need--as other point out--a plow anchor and chain--your Danforth might work in a few places, but not many. I have used a CQR for years and a lot of people are (mistakenly IMHO) selling them cheap to buy the well marketed Rocna--you can pick these up. I would second the need for at least 50 feet of chain and another 150 of 1/2" line as a minimum for a good nights sleep. At least 4:1 out over night. Will probably see you at some point. September is the best month to cruise here.
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:20   #15
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Re: Anchoring Advice?

One other thing. . . . Keep your Danforth and rode to use as a stern anchor. There are plenty of places (some of the best) where there's only room to fit into a "slot" anchorage if you don't swing. Also some places you really want to keep the bow facing the incoming swell. Strategic use of a stern anchor can greatly expand your anchoring opportunities.

Here's one of my favorite slot anchorages (look for the red dot), on Cliff Island, Casco Bay. Room for only one boat, maybe 50 feet wide at low tide and 4 feet deep. No one else would ever want to be there. . . . but we do!
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