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Successful Anchoring and Docking

Anchoring is an important basic seamanship skill. The critical steps when setting any anchor include paying out the proper amount of scope and assuring that the anchor rode is set in the proper direction with the bow pointing into the weather.

First select a site with a sandy or mud bottom where the anchor will hold. Drop the anchor over the selected spot with the bow pointed into the wind and all forward motion off. Allow the boat to drift back as you pay out the anchor rode. It is best to rig a section of chain rode, if not entirely of chain, so that the angle of the anchor pull is low to the bottom. Figure a ratio of 7 to 1 anchor chain to depth of water. It helps to take a bight on the line and draw the anchor momentarily when half the rode is paid out, so that the anchor is in the proper orientation to set. Then pay out the remainder of anchor rode and make fast to a cleat or bow bit.

Once the anchor is set, take shore bearings and check the line for skipping to assure that the vessel is secure before tending to other business. In tidal zones, the anchor line may have to be adjusted during low and high tides. Proper etiquette towards other vessels already in an anchorage is to anchor down wind, if possible, to minimize risk of your vessel drifting into theirs.

Docking can often be the most tense procedure of an entire voyage. To minimize stress for all, be sure to have dock lines and fenders rigged and ready before approaching busy fairways and high traffic access areas to thedocks. Notice direction and velocity of wind and current before maneuvering and, when possible, try to dock the boat head to the weather. Use two spring lines, one leading diagonally forward and the other leading aft, and bow and stern lines to properly secure to docks and piers. Accessories such as corner dock wheels and cushioning dock guards will greatly minimize damage to boat surfaces.