Port Credit Marine Survey
& Yacht Delivery
|6. Ground Tackle & How to Use it.|
|The first time we cruised the Hudson River
we ended up in marinas and on mooring
because the river seemed so open. Many
and many trips on the Hudson later
found dozens of snug little holes to
the hook. It takes time and experience
you will get comfortable anchoring
knowledge base expands.
Few topics in boating will generate more
arguments than this so for what it’s
here are my own highly prejudiced opinions.
Successfully launching and retrieving
tackle, while not rocket science, is
as simple as it appears what with currents, rough water, blinding spray or
Isle of Skye ground tackle arrangement with snubber running out starboard hawsepipe and the all important washdown
hose to port.
|Many production boats have poorly designed
bow rollers that don’t have room for two anchors or they may not be designed for your choice
of anchor and likely didn’t come with a chain
hook or rode cleat. In the photo above
- You can just make out the 5"X5"
sampson post with stainless steel bit
our stemhead. A real rode cleat is
substantial than the chrome thing secured
with two ¼” bolts through balsa core
many boat builders provide.
Two different type anchors should be kept at the bow as you will occasionally find that for some reason one type will not set. We also always have a Danforth ready to go at the stern. Over the years we have twice lost power going downstream in narrow cuts where dropping a bow anchor would have sent us ashore. We regularly anchor in narrow creeks (mostly in Georgia) where there is not enough room to swing so bow and stern anchors are the way to go. We have even anchored with bow and stern anchors ashore in Georgia. If you try this, check the depth with a boat pole as there is sometimes an underwater shelf that can hang you up when the tide drops.
The Rode - When we pull into anchor one of the first
things we look at are the rodes of
boats. We keep away from boats with
½”) rope rodes as they swing differently
than those on chain and they drag more
In a 10 knot wind a rope rode boat
at the full extent of the rode pulling
on the anchor where a chain rode boat
ride on the chain with no pull on the
A Snubber - should run off one side of the bow as holding the rode at a slight angle will help reduce “sailing”.
A Washdown - pump is a must unless you like 40lbs. of black muck running down your decks.
The Windlass - If you read the log of our 2005/06 trip you will learn how absolutely critical
it is to be able to launch and retrieve
tackle as quickly as possible. For
I am a firm believer in electric windlasses.
Using a manual windlass to drag in
chain and a 45lb. anchor 80 or 90 nights in a row does not make for happy cruising.
If you are the unlucky boat dragging
a crowded anchorage, a slow manual
will not help much. Windlass controls
not be at the helm but at the windlass
the operator can see what’s happening
find the sand patch among the seagrass.
Anchored bow and stern in a narrow Georgia creek.
The blue line shows a snubber holding the bow off
the wind to reduce "sailing".
|You do want to sleep…right ? Almost all anchors work well in certain conditions however, once out of Lake Ontario all the way through the New York State Canal System to the Bahamas you will be dealing with mostly two bottom
types, river mud and sand with some
clay in Georgia. There are some areas of sea grass and weed
but you are not going to anchor there
The old standby Danforth anchor is my favourite the for sand and mud but it does not work well in most bow rollers (ours included). If you want two anchors (you do) in dual rollers at the bow they should be of different types. If your Bruce won't set, how effective will another Bruce be ? We’re not fans of CQR types as they seem to drag more frequently than others and for some distance before they reset. I think the worst anchor on the market for this trip is the Fortress which is an aluminum Danforth knock-off. This anchor is so light it takes off like a kite in strong river currents or tidal streams and is extremely difficult to get on the bottom where you want it. Even though it gets high marks for holding power once set, it is just not worth the trouble. We carry a Bruce, Delta and a Danforth. The Max seems to have a lot of fans as does the Rocna but make no mistake, they will all drag at some point !
Isn't it funny how all those anchor manufacturers advertise tests that show theirs is the best ? Practical Sailor has done a number of anchor tests over the years and got different results each time depending on methodology.
Setting the Hook - This is so easy to do right that it’s surprising how many people get it wrong. Before you release that self launching anchor from your double bow roller you must know how deep the water is. If the water is 15’ deep let out 15’ of chain (plus height from bow roller to water). The boat must be moving very slowly astern when the anchor touches bottom. If you just dump 100’ of chain over the bow there is a good chance it will get tangled in the anchor you back up, this is not good.
As the boat slowly drifts back let out as much rode as required. Of course you have painted marks on your chain so you know how much is out (we use Tremclad). When we feel a gentle hook-up we put the coffee on and enjoy the view for 15 minutes to let it sink in (the anchor not the view). We then back down, slowly increasing the throttle to full power. After you have done this for a while you will be able to tell at the first tug if you are going to get a good set.
There will be occasions when no matter what you do the anchor will not bite. This is one of several reasons to always have a backup anchorage planned (before it gets dark). We give it a maximum of three tries and then move on.
Isle of Skye achored off Johnny Depp's boat,
Weighing Anchor - When its time to leave in the morning shorten the rode until its snug and vertical, have a coffee. By the time you are ready to leave the gentle bobbing of the boat will have loosened the hook from that heavy Georgia clay. This is when you will really appreciate the time it took to install that washdown aside from using it to clean fish.
Scope - Decades ago I was taught that 5:1 was the ideal scope but everything I’ve read in this century says 7:1. Our rule of thumb is if you’ve got it, flaunt it. We put out everything we have whenever possible. There are some very well protected small anchorages where there is not room for more than 3:1 but if the protection is good enough, it does not concern us. If there is room to put out 120' in 6' of water ..... out it goes.
Setting Multiple Hooks - We have never dragged anchor with only one
hook out. In thousands of cruising
we have dragged twice, once with two
in a strong tidal river current and
in a high gale with three anchors out.
again, I’d rather sit up all night
hand on the throttle than try to get
of a tight anchorage dragging three
In tandem - Two anchors off the bow with a caribiner
from the near anchor on to the primary rode.
The Bahamian Moor can leave you hopelessly tangled
after a few tidal 360's
|The Anchor Float - Notice the current streaming by our anchor
float which is lying off our stern. With
the weight of the chain our anchor float
is often under or behind us depending on
wind and current. Some cruisers strenuouly
object to the use of floats but I need to
know where my anchor is all the time. I also
need to know where everyone else’s is. With
a float, determining your relative position
is easier and helps you envision your swing
circle. We have seen collisions where one
boat ran over a rode pulling both boats together
…. wouldn't have happened if a float had
been in place.
On several occasions I have seen the tangled mess when one hook was dropped on top of another making two helplessly drifting boats. A float line can double as a method of pulling your anchor out backwards when it gets snagged on a rusty Mack truck.
Imagine this scenario then decide if you want a float or not. A boat pulls in the anchorage and asks "How much rode do you have out ?" We respond " 120' in 7' of water" . So he anchors 100' aft. As the wind comes up we fall back 150' and collide. Think this can't happen ? Take alook at the photo at right that shows our float astern of the boat.
Anchor float astern in a tidal stream as the tide turns
Our anchor float 100' off our stern.
|Pick Your Spot - I've already mentioned that we don't anchor
near boats with rope rodes, neither do we
anchor near catamarans as they react very
differently than monohulls in certain conditions.
We once witnessed a collision between a 50'
monohull and a 50' catamarran in the mooring
ball field (now gone) in Charleston. The
monhull was riding on the current and the
cat riding on the wind .... bang !
Photo below right taken at 8X zoom shows a 65’ steel trawler dragging a 65lb. CQR through Marsh Harbour in a gale with gusts to 48 knots. We are anchored 3/4 of a mile away from this mess near the harbour mouth. Carefully picking your spot can be a great stress
|reliever. For convenience sake, setting the anchor close to your fellow cruisers,
the free dinghy dock or off a pretty beach
is nice however, winds change and what looked
great on a sunny afternoon may not be much
fun at 0500 when the wind comes calling.
Cruisers tend to congregate at one end of the harbour like Marsh harbour. We prefer to anchor well out of the crowd whenever possible even if it means being a little more exposed. I am willing to take responsibility for my own actions but reluctant to be a victim of others. Better a long dinghy ride than a sleepless night. When forced into a crowded anchorage be aware of the etiquette. Always anchor down stream or downwind of those already in position. Always anchor in the same style. Always ask your how much rode your neighbors have out and match it. If you don’t think he has enough out ... move. Don’t wind through everyone else to get closer to the dinghy dock and don’t anchor next to the Sea Ray with 8 guys drinking.
A tangle in Marsh Harbour as a 65' trawler drags through
| Anchor Light - Always, always turn on your anchor light
even if only to help find your own boat after
Day anchor signals (black ball) are a rarity in fact the only one I have ever seen is my own even though they are required by ColRegs.
In one case in broad daylight seven boats in a designated anchorage were hit by a cruise boat that had lost steerage, only the one with a day anchor signal was compensated. The insurance company found the one exception to the use of anchor signals in the designated anchorage rule.
The Bitter End - No, not your last divorce. Yet another ground tackle subject of controversy. Most secure the bitter end of the rode with clamps, shackles or some mechanical means but what happens when you have yo get out right now !
Do you have huge chain cutters at the ready ? Some advocate having the last 10’ of your chain secured with rope that you can easily cut if you have to escape in a hurry and some believe in not securing the bitter end at all. That anchor float will help you find your tackle later.
Let me know if you turn up a 22lb. Danforth and 250' of 3/4" rode at Allens-Pensacola Key.
The very nature of this missive leans towards the negative and Mama tol' you there'd be days like that. Did she also mentions the free lobsters in Dry Tortugas.
There are six idiots anchored between us and the bridge
lights in the distance.
The joys of anchoring. That white wall coming towards us is a
tornado marching down Pungo Creek. The 44lb. Bruce held !
Isn't she the prettiest thing you've ever seen ?
Chapter 7. Mooring balls & Docks.
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