Anchoring - some things to consider
When chartering a yacht the first thing that needs to be addressed, when entering a bay that you like, is choosing a good anchorage. Well then, what makes a ‘good anchorage’ you may ask?
A good anchorage is one that provides you and your boat protection from waves, most importantly, but also wind. The local chart or cruising guide will give you a good indication of which side of an island or headland will be the leeward (or downwind) side of the weather. Here are some other points you may also wish to consider:
1. Waves and wind can bend around an island or headland, to some extent, and make your yacht roll during the night. Also, the landscape can cause gusts in your anchorage that may even exceed the unprotected wind strength. Your local cruising guide book will give you advice on which wind directions and strengths affect which anchorages – it is often advice well taken.
2. What is the quality of the holding on the bottom? Is it firm? Will your charter yacht drag if the wind increases? If the yacht does drag what will you drag onto?
3. How will any tide or currents affect you? For instance if a current draws the boat to a position broadside to the swell you will roll uncomfortably (although this problem can be reduced by setting another anchor 30-180 degrees off the first at the bow or off the stern).
4. Water depth. Is it deep enough for low tide if you swing towards the shallowest point (or the closest boat). Remember you need to be anchored in a place that will be ok in a wind shift. Also, is the water too deep to get sufficient purchase on the chain - as can be the case when the chain is short in a crowded anchorage?
5. Do you have a contingency plan if conditions change during the night? Can you get in and out of the anchorage easily enough? Do you understand the navigation marks, and so on at night? You should try to imagine what it will all look like at night.
6. Once out of a rejected night anchorage it is sufficiently easy to navigate your charter boat to the next choice of anchorage? Are you comfortable with the navigation marks and obstacles which will be encountered in transit?
Now that you have considered the chart, the local cruising guide and the actual anchorage your thoughts will turn to the practical laying of the anchor. This is the part where planning and practice makes perfect.
Next page: Anchoring procedure