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Old 28-03-2012, 05:38   #1
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Anchoring Outside Surf Breaks ?


I was wondering if any of the old salts here surf or have anchored outside of surf breaks? Whats the challenges and do you have any tips? I live on the east coast of florida and swell is rarely more than 4-6 ft. inshore. Water depth at what i would consider to be a safe distance from the break would be approx. 30ft. and a clean sand bottom. Im still new to this so any hints, tips, and advice is appreciated.

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Old 28-03-2012, 06:10   #2
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Re: anchoring outside surf breaks?

You always anchor outside the surf break! Actually, guys I know who surf and sail tend to anchor outside the break (well outside) and surf for a couple of hours before moving the boat to a calmer anchorage/bay to drop the hook for the night.

Remember, if you are surfing those waves you won't be able to take a dinghy ashore in them - and if you were able to you won't be able to get back to the boat.


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Old 28-03-2012, 06:14   #3
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Re: anchoring outside surf breaks?

Should be ok as long as you're not worried about the anchor dragging.
If it's a good surf break, the winds will be offshore so it'll be fine, atleast until the wind shifts and closes out the break. And you'll want enough time to get back to a proper anchorage before nightfall, unless you're like anchoring at night...
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Old 28-03-2012, 06:17   #4
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Re: anchoring outside surf breaks?

There are a couple guys here who do it, mostly fishermen who know the bottom pretty good and who also surf. The one's I've watched just drop the hook (a danforth) set it and then go surf. I did it once in Hawaii when I was a kid, learned a lesson there: don't forget about the clean up set when you drop your hook.
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Old 28-03-2012, 07:19   #5
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Re: anchoring outside surf breaks?

Yep. One can anchor. But it will be a rolly night. Anchor, surf, move on!

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Old 28-03-2012, 08:57   #6
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Re: anchoring outside surf breaks?

Ok great. and of course i know that i will not be anchoring inside the break. winds on florida east coast are generally on shore and dragging is my main concern. What about rode:depth ratios? Should i stick with the standard 7:1 or pay out more rode. Or should i put a weight at the end of the chain length before it meets the line rode? I would not be staying overnight, just for a good surf session before going back to the intercoastal waterway.
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Old 28-03-2012, 09:47   #7
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Re: anchoring outside surf breaks?

Anchoring outside a surf break should follow the same rules for anchoring anywhere--put out as much scope as you need to feel comfortable, use a good snubber, and make sure the anchor is well set before you leave the boat. If you're unsure of how to anchor in quiet harbors, anchoring in the open will provide valuable lessons and make you an anchoring expert. Always better to err on the side of caution, even if it means pulling up an extra fifty feet of chain.
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Old 28-03-2012, 10:01   #8
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Re: anchoring outside surf breaks?

just dont drop off enough chain to have ye end up on the beach when winds come up....
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Old 28-03-2012, 10:21   #9
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Re: anchoring outside surf breaks?

Usually those who suggest beach anchoring get hammered by the "you are going to die", crowd. But I've done it for short periods of time in smaller boats.

Your main concerns are going to be weather changes, anchor dragging, etc...

I personally would feel more comfortable if I was going to leave the boat to have someone left aboard. And an overnight woule be a calculated risk.
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Old 31-03-2012, 04:59   #10
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Two of my worst nights at anchor were when I stopped for a surf. Once at Barlings beach on the south coast of NSW, a few miles south of Batemans Bay, and Long Point on the east coast of Tasmania. Great surf, but paid for it both nights. I'd rather sail all night than anchor at the beach!

My tips get in early surf then sail to protected anchorage for the night.
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Old 31-03-2012, 05:32   #11
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Where the channel is with all the water running out can be a good spot to anchor off from,then if you drag you go out not in
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Old 22-06-2012, 20:33   #12
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Re: Anchoring Outside Surf Breaks ?

I've anchored outside surf on occasions, and have only a couple of things to add. One is that in some situations you'll get 'sneaker' waves, maybe only one or two a day, which break MUCH further offshore.

This doesn't stop me using the procedure, but if I'm less than certain this cannot happen, I'll keep the boat in a situation where it can handle being pulled through green water: no forehatches open, no loose gear or snoozing on deck, a really good anchor set, etc etc, and CERTAINLY a competent crew on board at all times.

It actually surprising what size surf a well-set up sailing vessel can manage, provided the bow is lined up into it. I wouldn't take the risk if the wind was either too light or too slanted. (Remember also that sneaker breaks might not run square to the beach. Talk to a local surfer)

Secondly: as regards anchoring in the channel where the rip tide drains the excess water transported above sea level by surf action.

This location can vary with tide, and might be augmented or reversed by a tidal estuary which drains through or adjacent to the surf beach.
When there's a serious amount of current against the incoming swell, dangerous breakers might develop locally despite no changes to the general seastate.

Once again, local knowledge is desirable, but it can be hard to evaluate how reliable it is. I find those who are most forthcoming with advice tend to have the least to offer.

I'm much more relaxed around surf beaches in lifting or swing-keel yachts than deep keel, because the former are less likely to strand, and more salvageable if they do.

Bear in mind that local opinion, however expert, may not have internalised the implications of deep draught.

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