A vessel’s anchor is a vital part of her safety equipment. Knowledge of its use, capabilities and limitations is essential to every practical seaman. The following information may help you find anchoring your vessel a little easier than before.

Anchors do not hold the seabed by weight. They do so by digging in and holding the seabed. The shape (or type) of the anchor determines how successfully it will hold your vessel in place.

  • Safe anchoring becomes a matter of selecting the right anchor for the type of seabed then using it correctly to suit the prevailing conditions.
  • In Brisbane Water and Broken Bay the common anchors in use are the Danforth (spade or sand) and the Reef anchor. The CQR (or plough anchor) is often used mainly by sailing vessels because of its greater holding power.
  • Ensure that the bitter end of the anchor line is firmly secure the the anchor mount in the bow of the boat.
  • A sufficient length of chain should be secured to the anchor and shackled to the anchor line securely (the shackle pin must be ‘moused or hammered to prevent coming free accidentally). The amount of chain should be at least 1½ times the length of your boat. The amount of anchor line normally paid out is three times the depth of water however, this will depend on the swinging room available, the windage offered by your vessel, tidal conditions, type of bottom and the holding power of the anchor and the weather conditions. In bad weather use more line, usually five times the depth of the water.
  • The greater the scope (the ratio of length of anchor line to depth of water), the greater the holding power of the anchor.
  • When making ready to anchor, make your approach head to wind and when in position lower the anchor to the bottom. If you throw it over you could end up with a pile of tangled chain and rope on the seabed with the anchor.
  • When sufficient line has been paid out, turn up on the bollard and let the anchor take the weight of the vessel. You can feel the vibration on the anchor line when the vessel is laying back on her anchor.
  • If the anchor is dragging pay out more line to increase the scope. You can check for drag by taking a fix on a couple of shore based objects.

Remember that your anchor gear is part of your emergency equipment and must be kept in good condition at all times. If you have an engine malfunction you should anchor your vessel before calling for assistance. Marine Rescue has a better chance of finding you if you stay in the one spot.