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Old 01-08-2021, 08:40   #1
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Anchoring in crowded places

Hi all,

Curious to hear cruiser’s tips for anchoring in crowded anchorages - especially deeper ones about 20’. We are cruising New England right now and many popular anchorages are about this depth and absolutely stacked full of boats. We avoid anchoring in them at all costs, but I’m worried some day we’ll be forced to. In Newport just two days ago we witnessed an unattended big cat dragging down on a group of boats. Not a fun scene.

Would love to hear what scopes you use, anchors, snubber setups, etc. in crowded and deep places especially in winds 20kts or above.
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Old 01-08-2021, 17:42   #2
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

In Newport you can get away with rather short scope because the bottom is pretty good holding mud. There's not much else you can do in a crowded spot, unless it be to set a second anchor to limit swing, as long as it won't put you afoul of someone else when the wind shifts.
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Old 01-08-2021, 18:23   #3
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

Uhm, 20 feet is NOT deep. It is in fact, quite desirable.


The Rocna. All 20kg of it with 100ft of chain. The rest of the world can debate all they like. When I pull into a place like Bodega Bay at midnight and the fog is so thick I can't see the jetty 50 feet away to make an entrance, I drop my hook in the rolling ocean swells with the surf crashing (Foster says it's like staying in a cheap Best Western beside the highway), and I sleep. And in the morning I have a windlass to pull the beast up and I wouldn't trade it for anything. (I also wouldn't add more chain - this works perfectly in 25 to 30 feet of water - you let all the chain out and you tie off nylon at the preferred scope and don't bother with separate snubbers and chain hooks and all that stuff...)
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Old 04-09-2021, 12:56   #4
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

Some folks will say "effective" scope depends on the type of rode (e.g., chain or not) you're using, the depth, the type of anchor, type of bottom, and the exposure to incoming seas. In 20 ft, a Rochna PROPERLY set in sand at the end of 50 ft of chain in a sheltered anchorage should hold well in 20 kt of wind & small wind waves. If everybody did that, it would be "safe" to join. If it's shallow, say 8 to 10 ft, exposed to "incoming" and you're on nylon rode in mud, for that same 20 kt you might wish 70 ft of nylon rode put out. A scope of 7:1 versus 2.5:1. It depends. Many it seems want to apply a one size fits all, but it just does not work well in "public places." So if you are on chain, anchor near another one on chain, generally upwind of large boats with lots of windage, if possible, IMHO.
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Old 11-09-2021, 10:13   #5
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

Using all chain might help you get by with less scope. A kellet might also be helpful in tight anchorages.
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Old 11-09-2021, 11:16   #6
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

To anchor in crowed places, normally rather than trying to limit swing the aim is to match the swing characteristics of your neighbours.

So try and roughly match your neighbours' scope rather than aiming for a much shorter scope or multiple anchors. This way the boats will swing together and everyone is happy.

There are exceptions. If you have anchoring gear that can work at a relatively short scope it can help anchoring near moored boats and occasionally you can make use of a corner that is not usable by most vessels.

Sometimes a stern tie to shore can be a useful option in a crowded anchorage, but be careful that you are not in the likely swing circle of conventionally anchored boats, especially if they were there first.
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Old 11-09-2021, 12:22   #7
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

and if you see a wonderfully open spot in the middle of a crowded anchorage... there is probably a reason nobody is anchored there. Proceed with caution.
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Old 11-09-2021, 12:28   #8
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

Be contrarian
Don't anchor in crowded spots.
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Old 12-09-2021, 04:52   #9
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

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Originally Posted by sanibel sailor View Post
and if you see a wonderfully open spot in the middle of a crowded anchorage... there is probably a reason nobody is anchored there. Proceed with caution.
Definitely ! It could be shallow or have some other obstruction.

Happened to me once on the intercoastal near Daytona. I was looking for spot to anchor for the night and came across a group of boats. I picked a spot that seemed ideally clear and open. Chart showed enough depth, but I found out differently. Had to kedge myself off ! Lol. Lesson learned !!
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Old 12-09-2021, 04:56   #10
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

Oh NOOOOO!

Another anchoring thread!

(Just teasing, Peregrine)
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Old 12-09-2021, 07:27   #11
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

In a crowded anchorage expecting high winds, you will want to resign yourself to maintaining an anchor watch all night. It would do well to have familiarized yourself well with the chart so you know depths and depth changes, where obstructions are located, where are any rocks. Be prepared to sound alerts to other boats with a horn or high intensity light. It might do well to have the whole anchorage site on a particular VHF channel so communication is facilitated. Have an anchor monitor or alarm; there are apps for this, or Garmin has a circle for which you can define the radius and see the track of your swings, or Navionics for showing your track.

Otherwise, put out as much scope as you can keeping in mind you need to be compatible with your neighboring boats. If you start to drag, put out more scope. If you don't have more scope, while others are awake and about, borrow more rope rode from someone and have it ready to be deployed (a water knot or a Becket/sheet bend knot are good knots to join lines).
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Old 12-09-2021, 07:39   #12
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

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Originally Posted by Ded reckoner View Post
In a crowded anchorage expecting high winds, you will want to resign yourself to maintaining an anchor watch all night...
Or better yet - given the option - go and anchor somewhere else. Having the 'second best' bay to yourself, or sharing it with just a few others, each of you deploying the scope that you'd like is far preferable to squeezing into the best sheltered bay but anchoring only with as much chain as your neighbours permit. Quite often the only difference between first and second choice is the amount of swell that works its way in; whilst I'm not keen on rolly anchorages, they're preferable to a night on anchor watch - there's always someone who does/has done something stupid.
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Old 12-09-2021, 07:55   #13
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

I had one other thought that I think is important. If you have a choice, avoid anchoring on small area shallow mesas.

All anchors drag. This is because current, tides, and winds change and an anchor must reset. The argument over the best anchor is an argument over which drags least. Because you will drag by some length, avoid a small area that is shallower than the surrounding area. I would define small as not accommodating a two boat length drag. The reason mesas should be avoided is because if you drag off of it, the incline is into deeper water. This angle is not good for your anchor to grab into. In fact, your anchor will want to release so drag will be exacerbated. On the other hand, if you anchor in deeper water and you drag into a mesa area, then your anchor will bite much better into the side and it is difficult for your boat to drag up the incline.
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Old 12-09-2021, 09:01   #14
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

I am not sure to what extent my experience is relevant to what you are finding in your neighborhood, but I am often in anchorages that either are crowded or can be (many of the anchorages here are small coves,) and it is the common practice here, for most of us locals anyway, to regularly anchor bow and stern. It fits more folks in safely, no problems with swinging and, I would venture, less dragging threat since anchors are not being being pulled in multiple directions, and rode is not being dragged over someone else's anchor (usually.) Given that common arrangement, I have two Danforths and I haven't dragged (drug?) yet with those.
My scope is usually 5:1.
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Old 12-09-2021, 11:26   #15
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Re: Anchoring in crowded places

When anchoring in tight spaces, oversized anchors and chain are your friend.
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