8 steps to a successful anchorage

21 July, 2022 by
8 steps to a successful anchorage
Clémence Vollaire

The calm, the view, the soft sound of the water on the hull and that unique feeling of being alone in the world: spending a night at anchor is one of the highlights of a cruise! But how do you make sure that the anchor will stay attached on the seabed? Here TEMO provides you with the 8 essential steps to stress-free anchoring. These are the essential steps to take to anchor your boat in the right way and in the right frame of mind. Plug in your TEMO: you'll soon be needing it !

1. Find the ideal spot

The ideal anchorage brings together several criteria:

- It must be sheltered from the wind and the swell, without being too close to the coast.

- The bottom must be sandy or muddy, especially if you want to beach your boat. Rocky bottoms are not recommended because the anchor's grip will not be good. Seagrass beds or corals are areas with sensitive ecosystems where it is forbidden to drop the anchor.

Once the location is defined, a weather check is necessary to monitor the evolution of the wind, swell, currents and tides.

2. Equip yourself before handling the anchor

We don't say it enough, but shoes (we did say shoes, not flip-flops!) and gloves are strongly recommended for the person maneuvering the bow. Even if most pleasure boats are equipped with electric windlasses, it is always useful to be able to intervene manually without getting hurt.
Take care of your back when handling: work with your legs bent and one foot in front.

Reminder: We talk about "manual" intervention, but in the event of an incident, the best thing to do is to stabilize the chain with your foot and then pick it up by hand. Be careful not to let your fingertips get caught in the pulleys!

3. Calculate the right length of chain

The length of chain to be deployed varies according to the depth of water, i.e. the distance between the bottom of the water and the bottom of the keel. It is recommended to leave at least 3 to 4 times the water height at full tide. Add one or two extra lengths in case of bad weather conditions, while making sure that your avoidance zone does not encroach on those of your neighbors.

Remember: An anchor attaches best to the bottom when the pull on it is horizontal. So the more chain you deploy, the larger your avoidance area, but the more securely your anchor will be planted on the bottom.

4. Check the entire anchor line

For your first trip at the beginning of the season or on a charter boat, it is recommended that you spread out the entire anchor line on deck. This will allow you to :
- Take note of the length marks, indicated by colored dots on the chain.
- Check the condition of the chain and its attachment points with the anchor and the boat. Yes, we did say with the boat: it still happens all too often that anchoring maneuvers go awry!
By the way, maybe we should also take the opportunity to test the electric windlass?

5. Bonus : Using a buoy rope can help you to raise your anchor more easily

On potentially rocky bottoms, attach a line to the front part of the anchor and connect it to a small buoy. When you set out again, by taking this piece of line, you will be able to pull up the anchor easily and avoid it getting caught on the bottom.

6. Refine your communication strategy with your crew

During the maneuver, the person at the bow will give instructions to the helmsman. With the noise of the windlass and the engine, it is essential to have an effective communication mode! The helmsman and the bowman should therefore agree on a simple language of gestures and/or brief words before starting.

7. Finally, we can drop anchor!

The approach maneuver

For reasons of simplicity and safety, we will opt for a motorized approach. The maneuver then proceeds as follows:
- Arrive into the wind, then
- Pass through neutral to the end of the line, then
- Throw out the anchor, and, in the process, set the chain gradually, but not all at once. If the wind is not strong enough, go into reverse and let the chain out gradually.

Once you've dropped the anchor

Once you've set the right length of chain and locked it onto a cleat, it's time to check that the anchor is secure. There are two ways to check this:
- Take the chain in your hands, without tightening it: you can immediately feel if the anchor is stabilized or not;
- Line up the chain with something on land and check it at 5 and 10 minute intervals. It might take a little longer. If the boat starts to move out of line, check your avoidance zone and take a new alignment.

8. Launch your dinghy and take out your TEMO

Now that your boat is stabilized, all you have to do is enjoy a nice cold drink with your fellowcrew member and discuss how the maneuver went. Then launch your dinghy, clip on your TEMO electric motor and get exploring the coast !

Note: We believe that anchoring should be done in optimal weather conditions. We'll come back to other tips for securing your anchor in bad weather in a future article 😉.

For successful anchoring, the most important thing is to be well prepared. Locating the ideal spot, doing a weather check, getting properly equipped, calculating and checking the chain length are all crucial steps that you must take. Not forgetting that the crew and the helmsman should agree on the details of the maneuver in advance. These are the vital things to remember when dropping anchor and taking your TEMO out for a stopover on land !

What are your tips for ensuring a 100% successful anchorage ?

8 steps to a successful anchorage
Clémence Vollaire 21 July, 2022