Into the Wind
by Jeff Williams

Anchoring Part I
(Part II)

The old boat started a vicious snap roll that made you wonder if the thing was going to go all the way over. It never did, it always just paused a moment to collect some seawater on deck before heaving itself onto its other side. We didn't have to discuss options. It was time to find a sheltered cove and drop the hook.

Most boaters I see don't seem to be equipped to anchor reliably. Quite often, if there is an anchor, it's one of those miniature battleship anchors that you get at Canadian Tire tied to that yellow floating rope that is guaranteed not to hold a knot for longer than you care to stare at it. This is a real shame because anchoring is part of the experience of boating. For me, it's a wonderful part of the experience. It allows you to leave your boat to explore on shore, read a book, sleep, cook dinner or take shelter from bad weather, Although whole books are devoted to anchoring, dropping the hook in the Muskokas isn't that complicated.

Start with some good gear. If you have a large cruiser or sailboat, you should discuss your equipment needs with a professional. They can help you choose the right type of anchor and gear for your boat and cruising area. A popular choice in this area is the Danforth anchor. It's the one with two large triangular flukes that are side by side. They are light in weight relative to their holding power, especially in muddy bottoms where they dig further in as the pull on them increases.

Next comes the chain. Yes, chain. You should have at least a short length of chain between the anchor and the rope. It provides weight that helps to keep the anchor flat on the bottom so it can dig in. If there is rock or debris on the bottom, the chain will not be cut if it rubs. When the anchored boat tugs and shears around on the line, the chain keeps the anchor from being wiggled around and yanked out.

The anchor line is next. Surprisingly, bigger is not better here. An oversized anchor line doesn't stretch enough to absorb shock loads as the boat swings and bucks around from wind and waves. I used one half-inch nylon line to moor a two ton sailboat for the summer. Buy good quality nylon rope. Unlike the yellow floating stuff, it stretches to absorb shock loads, is resistant to the sun's UV rays, and it holds a knot well. For reliable anchoring when you want to leave the boat unattended, you will need at least five times the water's depth in rope.

It's a good idea to check to see how the cleats in your deck are fastened. Sometimes they are held by small wood screws, which aren't up to the job, If in doubt, refasten the cleat with bolts and a backing plate underneath the deck to prevent the cleat from pulling its fasteners through the deck.

Tie the end of your anchor line opposite the anchor to something solid. This way you won't drop your nice new anchor, chain and rope into the, water with no way of ever getting it back. I know it sounds like a silly thing to do, but people do it all the time. This way you won't have the expense and embarrassment of a common mistake.

Sturdy and reliable anchoring gear for small boats is a cheap insurance policy, and will increase your enjoyment on the water. Next week, I'll follow up with some tips on how to anchor without having a fight with your mate.

...on to Part II

Jeff Williams