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Old 02-07-2022, 18:52   #1
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Anchoring in the Great Lakes

So my wife and I are proficient anchorers, if I may say so myself. We've anchored In all kinds of conditions from Maryland to Canada and back. We have a 55 lb Rocna backed by ample 5/16 chain to anchor a 23,000 lb 43 ft boat (with considerably less windage than many boats).

We are now sailing eastern Lake Ontario and the Thousand Island region of the St Lawrence River.

We have anchored three times since arriving here, and drug three times in winds under 20 knots. In every case, the anchor has come up as a 3-ft diameter ball of grass.

I have a 65 lb Bruce in second position on the bow, and a large Fortress in a bag in the bilge.

Other than paying for a slip or a mooring until we reach saltwater again, anybody have any suggestions?


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Old 02-07-2022, 19:08   #2
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

Go for deeper anchorages when possible. Less light reaching the bottom means less weeds to worry about. When you can't go deep, power set the anchor hard to get a better idea of whether you've got a junk bottom or something usable.
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Old 02-07-2022, 20:21   #3
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

It’s different across the lakes of course. The Trent Severn Thousand islands and Georgian Bay weed farm is pretty common. It’s a 60’ deep plateau run a good part of the north shore and it has massive weeds and salmon. We’ve been using twin danforths spaced 30’ apart with spring lines and toe line on the anchors. Once your over an anchor you pull up the small line pulling the nose of the anchor up. With the sharp blades of the Danforth down most of the harvest slide off. I tiny anchor sail helm keep everything steady.
Muggs Channel in Toronto Island is you make it there. The Ferry to the city is close by. Plug ins water, lovely park.
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Old 02-07-2022, 20:28   #4
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

When I was in the 1000 island region, I noticed the Bruce was the most common anchor among the local boats. It was one of the few times that my Manson anchor dragged in a thundersquall, and it did have a big ball of weed on it when I brought it up.
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Old 02-07-2022, 20:32   #5
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

Maybe a bit controversial, but i have had a surprisingly good results with an old school fisherman anchor. While textbooks recommend it for rocky bottoms, i found the long arm would dig in much deeper and penetrate through kelp to get to the bottom of the sea bed. It was often an effective ground tackle for me. For what is worth...
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Old 03-07-2022, 04:20   #6
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

I haven't tried it in kelp, but I haven't had trouble getting my Vulcan to cut through weed salad into a better bottom below. Generally a bigger, sharper anchor will do better in those bottoms.

Realistically, the roll bar might be the issue. If that starts to pack up with weeds, the anchor won't be able to dig any deeper. Which comes back to the easiest fix being to anchor in deeper, less weedy places. On Lake Ontario usually 15-20 feet is the limit for weeds, sometimes less.
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Old 03-07-2022, 04:29   #7
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

You've got the right anchor. I use a 45 lb. Mantus on my 34 Ft. Hunter. I've anchored in the Great Lakes, the ICW and 4 seasons in the Bahamas and never dragged once. Be sure to lay out your chain and follow that with a power set.
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Old 03-07-2022, 04:50   #8
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

We sail that area and our Rocna will set, even in the weediest areas, but it sometimes takes patience and we always test it with the motor before considering the job done. There have been mornings when I've spent 15 minutes in the dinghy cutting the weed off the anchor after bringing it up.

The suggestion to anchor a little deeper is also a good one, but not always feasible in the Thousand Islands.

It's not usually a problem this early in the season because the weed hasn't had time to grow yet.
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Old 03-07-2022, 05:05   #9
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

The weed line at this latitude is about 17’. So if you anchor in 25’ you should be well outside the weeds.

As Anglais said, let the anchor settle in the mud before setting. Don’t drop the chain on top the anchor.

Most bays on either side of the border have excellent holding. Prinyers, quinte, Sodus, Little Sodus.

Some anchorages are a thin coat of mud over shale, and are deceptively poor anchoring- Oswego, cape Vincent and (worst) outside schoolhouse bay on Main Duck.

The islands themselves tend to have shallow anchorages with insufficient mud or sand, but they’re also well protected. Anchor in anticipation of prevailing winds/ storms.
Tell me where you are considering and I’ll tell you about the bottom and can suggest nearby anchorages. If you don’t get an answer here PM me.
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Old 03-07-2022, 05:37   #10
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

We have the exact same anchor, but on slightly larger (3/8") chain. We spent a few seasons in the Bay of Quinte/1000 Islands area, so feel your pain with regard to weeds. I've never seen weeds like we encountered there, although as someone already said, it was usually nearer the mid/end of season they really took over.

Careful placement of the anchor is important. You've got to be on the bow, looking down. Most of the time the weeds will be visible. Don't drop on them. Lower anchor and pay out the rode (I'm sure you do this already). If you suspect weeds, letting the anchor settle in for a few moments before beginning to back down sometimes works. And always go for the hard backing test.

Deeper water anchoring is also a strategy, but as someone already said, not always possible in the Islands.

You have the right anchor. There's no reason you can't be as successful as normal.

Oh, one more thing... it's common to drag through weeds when hauling the anchor up. You can still end up with a big ball. I tied a small garden rake or claw to my boat hook, and used it to untangle the weed knot. Worked the charm.
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Old 03-07-2022, 06:18   #11
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

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Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
...We have a 55 lb Rocna...We have anchored three times since arriving here, and drug three times...

Harry
Be careful, I believe that there's a rule that says you get drummed out of the Rocna owners fraternity for suggesting one might ever drag.
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Old 03-07-2022, 09:03   #12
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

In my experiences, Fortress or Danforth anchors have done better on grassy bottoms. Worst experiences were with a Bruce... each attempted set brought up another load of grass.
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Old 03-07-2022, 09:38   #13
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

The Islands present unique challenges with weeds. The advice that has worked for me over the years is to get the anchor to settle through the weeds before setting. To do this do not dump chain on top of the anchor. Set the anchor on the bottom and lay out the chain as you back away. And then wait. The motion of the boat will work the tip of the anchor down through the weed bed and then you can set it.

The moorings in the Canadian parks are quite affordable, especially when paying in Canadian cash.
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Old 03-07-2022, 10:07   #14
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

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Originally Posted by macieknan View Post
Maybe a bit controversial, but i have had a surprisingly good results with an old school fisherman anchor.
Some years back, my father offered me his. I couldn't figure out how to store, deploy, and recover such a monstrosity, so unfortunately passed on it. I have been kicking myself!
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Old 03-07-2022, 10:10   #15
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Re: Anchoring in the Great Lakes

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Originally Posted by bgallinger View Post
You've got the right anchor. I use a 45 lb. Mantus on my 34 Ft. Hunter. I've anchored in the Great Lakes, the ICW and 4 seasons in the Bahamas and never dragged once. Be sure to lay out your chain and follow that with a power set.
I have been quite nervous about backing down to set it. The first time I drug was while moderately backing down. It held for a couple minutes and then let go with no remaining resistance. While we spent half an hour clearing the weeds off, the local Yacht Club hailed us and offered us a mooring. Much better answer!
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