Choosing a Good Anchorage

Every boater has imagined finding an anchorage in some quiet, secluded cove where they can relax, swim or watch the sun set and the stars come out. But you can’t just drop a hook wherever you want. There are a lot of factors to consider. Here are a few tips on choosing a good anchorage.

  • Do Research. Don’t just hope that you stumble upon a good anchorage while boating. Have your anchorage picked out before you leave the dock. You’ll find great information in guidebooks and online. Check your charts, and pick a couple of options in case your first anchorage is crowded or has problems.
  • Consider Potential Hazards. Think about any possible hazards you might encounter in the anchorage. Look for dangerous rocks, changing currents, or hazards like cables and chains along the bottom.
  • Find Protection. Choose an anchorage that will give you the most protection from wind and waves. Consider the direction any wind and waves will be coming from, and tuck into a harbor or behind an island where you’ll be protected from rough conditions.
  • Pick the Right Depth. A perfect anchorage at high tide can turn into a disaster if you are sitting in mud at low tide. Check the area’s tidal range to be sure you won’t end up grounded. Also, if the water is too deep, will you have trouble holding.
  • Look for Good Holding. Bottom conditions are often noted on charts, with an “S” for sand and an “M” for mud. When considering where to drop your hook, think about what type of anchor you have, as some anchors work better in soft mud while others are better in hard sand. Also, avoid sloping or grassy bottoms.
  • Give Yourself Space. Even when anchored, your boat is still moving. With just a little breeze, your boat could swing around on its line. Give your boat enough room to swing in a circle around the anchor. Also, don’t anchor upwind of another vessel or you could end up over their anchor.

Main Photo by Pascal Debrunner

Photo by Val Vesa