Finding a suitable place to drop your hook can be relatively easy in some anchorages and seriously challenging in a busy harbour. It always pays to do a bit of advance planning. Review your anchorage selection before leaving, searching through guidebooks and online for suitable places to stop overnight for the predicted weather conditions, taking wind direction and strength, as well as wave action and storm potential into account. You’ll need to know the tidal variation between low and high tide to be certain that the anchorage has enough depth to accommodate the depth of your keel at low tide and that you have enough scope (see below) out when the tide is highest. Check the charts and tides, noting depth at mean low water (MLW) and mean high water (MHW), the direction and strength of any currents, as well as the bottom composition of the potential anchorages.
|Advance planning is key
Depending on the conditions present on a given day, in a given harbor different areas may provide the best holding ground, the most comfortable place with regards to wave action, or provide the most reasonable access to shore side activities. You’ll have to weigh your options against your plans and the weather forecast. Countless guidebooks are available to help you evaluate anchorages for the best locations for predicted conditions whether you are staying close to home or going far afield. It pays to have a current guidebook for your cruising territory. Keep in mind, that their advice about holding in a given anchorage may be tainted by the anchors used at the time of anchorage evaluation.
Choose a location that will be best suited for predicted overnight conditions. You want to face the direction of predominant wind flow and be within the lee of the land so as to limit exposure to wave action. Remember, it is more often the waves pushing the boat up and down rather than the wind pushing laterally that cause your anchor to pull out with potentially catastrophic effects. The broader the fetch (distance between land and your location), the more the waves have a potential to build up.
When you are studying an anchorage, there are things you may wish to avoid. If you do not like what you see, find another spot.
|Some things to avoid
Alex Blackwell and his wife Daria may be found sailing the seas on Aleria or delivering other people’s boats. Otherwise they might be writing or updating their book, Happy Hooking – the Art of Anchoring, which is available in print and Kindle on their website Coastalboating.net, on Amazon, and in good chandleries.