Using an anchor in a shifting current or wind

Too few captains are fully familiar with the procedures for anchoring a boat when the wind or current conditions are highly variable. If a boat is not anchored properly, it runs the risk of either floating into harm’s way or severing the anchor cord altogether. When this occurs, the stability of the boat can be jeopardized. In order to minimize the danger of anchoring during changing conditions, every sailor should be acquainted with a few basic guidelines.

First, it is usually a good idea to set two anchors when you are expecting a shift in current or wind. This shift may be due to a change in tide or a change in weather. Regardless, whenever the wind or tide changes it is likely that the boat will pull out an anchor. For this reason, it is a good policy to set double anchors at the beginning. In most cases, these anchors can both be placed at an angle ahead of the boat. Do not set the anchors out in line. If the change in current or wind direction is likely to be severe, however, it may be wiser to set the anchors at a straight line from the boat. This is done by lowering the windward anchor, leaving much more rode than usual, and then lowering the downwind anchor. Once this is done, you should move windward until the boat is midway in between the two anchors, at which point you may secure the anchors.

In most cases, however, it will be sufficient to secure the anchors at an angle ahead of the boat. This is done by lowering one anchor, securing it, and then allowing the boat to drift until the length of the rode is a little more than seven times the depth of the water. Then, move the boat forward until it is at a 45-degree angle with the first anchor, and lower the second anchor. You should then secure the second anchor once the boat has drifted far enough to create the desired 7 to 1 ratio of anchor rode to water depth. This anchoring procedure should allow your boat to remain stable during most changes in wind and current.


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Using an Anchor in a Shifting Current or Wind
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