Anchoring Part I
The old boat started a vicious snap roll that made you wonder
if the thing was going to go all the way over. It never did,
it always just paused a moment to collect some seawater on deck
before heaving itself onto its other side. We didn't have to
discuss options. It was time to find a sheltered cove and drop
Most boaters I see don't seem to be equipped to anchor reliably.
Quite often, if there is an anchor, it's one of those miniature
battleship anchors that you get at Canadian Tire tied to that
yellow floating rope that is guaranteed not to hold a knot for
longer than you care to stare at it. This is a real shame because
anchoring is part of the experience of boating. For me, it's
a wonderful part of the experience. It allows you to leave your
boat to explore on shore, read a book, sleep, cook dinner or
take shelter from bad weather, Although whole books are devoted
to anchoring, dropping the hook in the Muskokas isn't that complicated.
Start with some good gear. If you have a large cruiser or sailboat,
you should discuss your equipment needs with a professional.
They can help you choose the right type of anchor and gear for
your boat and cruising area. A popular choice in this area is
the Danforth anchor. It's the one with two large triangular
flukes that are side by side. They are light in weight relative
to their holding power, especially in muddy bottoms where they
dig further in as the pull on them increases.
Next comes the chain. Yes, chain. You should have at least
a short length of chain between the anchor and the rope. It
provides weight that helps to keep the anchor flat on the bottom
so it can dig in. If there is rock or debris on the bottom,
the chain will not be cut if it rubs. When the anchored boat
tugs and shears around on the line, the chain keeps the anchor
from being wiggled around and yanked out.
The anchor line is next. Surprisingly, bigger is not better
here. An oversized anchor line doesn't stretch enough to absorb
shock loads as the boat swings and bucks around from wind and
waves. I used one half-inch nylon line to moor a two ton sailboat
for the summer. Buy good quality nylon rope. Unlike the yellow
floating stuff, it stretches to absorb shock loads, is resistant
to the sun's UV rays, and it holds a knot well. For reliable
anchoring when you want to leave the boat unattended, you will
need at least five times the water's depth in rope.
It's a good idea to check to see how the cleats in your deck
are fastened. Sometimes they are held by small wood screws,
which aren't up to the job, If in doubt, refasten the cleat
with bolts and a backing plate underneath the deck to prevent
the cleat from pulling its fasteners through the deck.
Tie the end of your anchor line opposite the anchor to something
solid. This way you won't drop your nice new anchor, chain and
rope into the, water with no way of ever getting it back. I
know it sounds like a silly thing to do, but people do it all
the time. This way you won't have the expense and embarrassment
of a common mistake.
Sturdy and reliable anchoring gear for small boats is a cheap
insurance policy, and will increase your enjoyment on the water.
Next week, I'll follow up with some tips on how to anchor without
having a fight with your mate.
...on to Part II