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Safe at Sea: The right anchor is a critical investment

By Staff | Mar 17, 2020


Over the next couple of weeks, Safe at Sea will discuss both anchoring equipment and anchoring techniques.

The general name for all the equipment you need to anchor your boat is “ground tackle.” This includes an anchor, chain, line and connecting elements. The anchor line, including the chain, is called the “rode.” From the start, the following piece of advice is critical: As a boat owner, you have made a significant investment (B.O.A.T. = Break Out Another Thousand); therefore, purchasing the proper anchoring equipment is not where you want to “buy cheap.” Quite literally, you have a great deal invested in being able to anchor your boat securely.

Although not required by federal law, it is recommended you carry one anchor of sufficient size and strength to hold your boat for an extended period of time, like overnight or in an emergency situation, such as if you run out of gas.

First, there are many kinds of anchors, and no one anchor is “best.” Each has its strength and weaknesses. The correct anchor for your boat depends on the following:

– Size of your boat

– Type of boat (consider its weight and its storage capacity)

– Kinds of seabed where you are likely to anchor

– Wind and current you anticipate in your boating area

The best starting point is to ask fellow boaters here in and around Sanibel-Captiva; in fact, members of the America’s Boating Club are here to help with “all things boat.” Another good source of information is West Marine and other local marine supply stores. That said, while local knowledge is invaluable, personal experience with anchoring your boat will tell you if you have made the right selection of ground tackle.

What you are purchasing in an anchor is holding power. Holding power is influenced by several factors:

– Design (of an ground tackle)

– Weight

– Construction material

Anchors almost always fold by digging into the sea’s bottom, rarely by weight alone. The anchor’s design strongly influences an anchor’s ability to hook itself into the sea bed.

Essentially, the anchor has several parts: the fluke is the large blade-like part that digs into the floor of the sea – this is the working part of the anchor; and the shank connects the flukes to the rode.

Once you know your boat (size, weight and design features), and you know where you will be boating, as well as what your local boating conditions typically are, you will be ready to make an informed decision about which type of anchor will best suit your needs.

Poor anchoring equipment can lead to great inconvenience, possible damage, and potential risk to you and your crew – not to mention to boats and objects (for example, ATONs or Aids to Navigation). Therefore, choose the right anchor is far more critical than one might think.

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and the courses it offers, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 612-987-2125.