Anchor Successfully For a Good Night’s Sleep (part 2)

Captain Shel Miller

Secrets of anchoring:

In part 1 (previous post) we talked about the basics of anchoring, in part 2 we’ll discover some unique solutions to situations you may encounter. Any words you are not familiar with will be found in the Glossary.

  • If you own your boat make sure your anchor is up to the task, best to use an anchor of the size recommended or even larger. And, while you’re at it, make sure to have all chain anchor rode if possible. Not only does this increase the holding power of the anchor but makes retrieving it a simple task with an electric windlass.
  • Also, there are several new anchors on the market that set and hold better than previous models. Take a look at the Ultra, Spade, Kobra, Sarca Excel, and Manson Supreme.
  • If you are on a charter, or otherwise confined to the anchor on the boat, then look for an anchorage with plenty of swing room available and use lots of scope (10 to 1, or more) . This is my own technique of choice. Anchor scope is free as long as you have plenty of rode available; when in doubt, let it out.
  • You can always use two anchors, instead of just one, in any of several different arrangements none of which are particularly easy to use and have other drawbacks: If your anchor rode is part line you will run the risk of wrapping it around the prop when you place or retrieve the second anchor. Also, the anchor rodes, whether part or all chain, may very well get tangled together when they are both off the bow, which is prone to happen when the wind goes light and the boat drifts around.
  • A technique that I’ve used quite successfully is to find a sand bar or upslope on which to anchor, this has the same effect as using more scope. This is best used when the wind will remain from a given general direction. Using this technique you probably won’t need the 10 to 1 scope in the illustration below:


  • It can be handy to know when your boat is dragging anchor. Before going below for the night look around to see if you can set up an anchor range (a couple of lights, not other boats, that more or less line up) then you can check this any time during the night to see if you have moved. Also, I have found that if a boat is successfully anchored there will most always be some amount of back and forth movement or, sailing at anchor when the wind is blowing. If you notice that your boat is holding at a given angle to the wind, for more than several seconds, check to see if you are dragging. One sure-fire way to tell if your boat is dragging anchor is to place your hand on the rode (chain or line) and feel for any telltale vibration.

Hopefully, this gives you more tools in your bag helping you to anchor successfully for a good night’s sleep. For more in depth info check out Anchoring and follow the various links.

Best Sailing,
Captain Shel Miller


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