Anchoring techniques - Ocean Navigator (2023)

We have learned many anchoring techniques the hard way. One of the worst occasions saw us wrap three times around an old mooring block during current changes in La Paz, Mexico. After hours of troubleshooting and a dive into brackish fast-moving water, we sailed around three times in a counter-clockwise direction and were freed. If we had turned the rudder from one side to the other after each current switch, we never would have had the problem in the first place. On another occasion, we rolled so violently in swell that we didn’t sleep a wink and I was tossed from the bed.

There are a few techniques for anchoring in swell, current, foul ground and strong wind that can improve safety and comfort.

Anchoring in swell
Anchoring in an area subject to moderate ocean swell can be very uncomfortable. The boat will roll violently in swell that is more than 45 degrees off the wind angle. It can also be uncomfortable with the bow or stern directly into swell, as the pitching and plunging causes the transom to smack the surface of the water. The most comfortable position for the boat is between 15 to 35 degrees off the direction of the swell. This can be accomplished in two main ways.

The winch bridle: The simplest solution is to set up a winch bridle. A line is tied to the anchor rode with a rolling hitch and taken back to a cockpit winch where it is tightened. This changes the angle of the boat relative to the wind. The downside of the wind bridle is that the boat may begin to “sail” forward due to windage on the side of the hull. In such a case, it is better to deploy a stern anchor.

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Setting up a winch bridle:
1) Set the anchor.

2) Back down on the anchor to make sure it is secure.

3) Tie a line to the anchor rode using a rolling hitch and bring it back to a cockpit winch. Release approximately 20 feet of anchor rode. Winch in on the second line to change the angle of the boat relative to the wind. By playing around with the lengths of the anchor rode and winch bridle, you can adjust the angle of the boat.

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The stern anchor: More effecting than the winch bridle but more work to set up is the stern anchor. The stern anchor provides more security and is better at creating a stable angle.

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Setting a stern anchor:
1) Set anchor 1.

2) Back down on the anchor to ensure it is secure. Pay out more anchor rode than the intended scope to facilitate setting anchor 2 (stern anchor).

3) Take out anchor 2 in the dinghy to a minimum 5:1 ratio. Drop the anchor.

4) Take in the slack of anchor 2 and use a cockpit winch to set it. Winch in anchor 1 to the desired scope and pay out the line on the stern anchor. Keep both anchors relatively taught to maintain location and angle of the boat.

Anchoring in current
The Bahamian moor: This is an effective way of anchoring in a strong current. It consists of two anchors off the bow — one set upstream and one set downstream of the boat’s location. This method is most useful in river estuaries and bays with constricted entrances where there are high current speeds and frequent direction changes. It is also useful in crowded anchorages subject to current in order to prevent boats from wandering into each other.

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Setting a Bahamian moor:
1) Set anchor 1 and back down on it at 3:1 scope to make sure it is secure.

2) Feed out twice the anchor rode that you require and drop anchor 2. For example, if you wish to be on 5:1 scope, then feed out 10:1.

3) Winch in the first anchor while paying out line for the second anchor until the boat is halfway between the two anchor locations. Tighten in on the anchor 2 rode to help it set by making a loop in the rode and putting it on a winch. Once set, take the loop off the winch and loosen the line.

4) When the current switches, the boat will be tethered by anchor 2. It might require some snugging of the now loose anchor 1 rode. Setting the rudder hard over to one side will influence the direction in which the boat turns on the current switch. Turning the rudder hard to the other side after each current switch will help prevent the two anchor rodes from twisting together.

Single anchor in wind and current: In areas that are subject to high wind and current, it is sometimes best to be on a single anchor, as boats tend to “dance” in such conditions. As with the Bahamian moor, it is advantageous to turn the rudder hard to one side. As the boat moves forward it will turn sharply to the direction indicated by the rudder and the forces imputing its motion will dissipate. It can be considered akin to heaving-to. Switching the direction of the rudder after each current shift will help avoid a snag on underwater obstructions.

Anchoring in strong wind
Scope and catenary are the first lines of defense in a strong blow. They work to absorb shock and reduce the angle of pull on the anchor.

Catenary: This is the curve in the rode caused by gravity. The more weight there is in the rode, the more catenary there will be at higher wind speeds. It is for this reason that many advocate for all-chain rodes. The catenary has two effects; it reduces the angle of pull on the anchor and absorbs shock from large waves hitting the bow.

Kellet: Catenary can be increased by adding weight to the rode. A simple but effective method of adding weight is using a kellet. A kellet is a weight, usually 10 or more pounds, that is tied or clipped to the anchor rode. The closer to the anchor that the kellet is attached, the better the effect on catenary. However, there should be a minimum distance of the depth of the water at high tide between the kellet and anchor to make sure you’re not trying to raise both at the same time.

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Scope: When the wind is strong enough that the anchor rode no longer has any sag in it (i.e., it has lost all catenary), then it is very important to have adequate scope out. The more scope you have, the more the angle of pull on the anchor is reduced, making the anchor want to dig further into the seafloor rather than pop out.

While catenary and scope are important, sometimes more security is required. In these cases, it may be a good idea to deploy a second anchor. There are two main ways to set up two bow anchors: offset and inline.

Double bow offset: In ground with good holding, the most effective configuration is two bow anchors offset. The offset should be less than 45 degrees, as the function of the anchor will be reduced by side pull if the angle is greater.

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How to set offset double bow anchors:
1) Set anchor 1.

2) Back down on the anchor to ensure it is secure.

3) Motor up to and over from the anchor 1 location and deploy anchor 2.

4) Back down on anchor 2 to ensure it is secure.

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5) Pay out scope on both anchors until desired scope length is reached.

An alternative method is to use the dinghy to deploy anchor 2, similar to the stern anchor.

Double bow inline: Another method for setting double bow anchors is to deploy them inline. This is easier to set up, provided it is done correctly. It can be especially effective in anchorages with foul ground as anchor 2 clears a path for anchor 1 to set, though this requires some dragging to accomplish. The disadvantage of this method is that anchor 2 creates a furrow if dragging and it is harder for anchor 1 to set.

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How to set inline double bow anchors:
1) Set anchor 1 (attached to the head of anchor 2).

2) Pay out a little more rode than the depth of the water at high tide and deploy anchor 2. Failure to put out enough rode between anchors will mean hauling in both anchors at the same time, which in a strong wind can strain a windlass.

3) Back down on anchor 2 and pay out rode to the desired scope. In strong wind, the more scope you have the better, as it will reduce the angle of pull on the anchor.

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Urquhart at the anchor windlass.

Robin Urquhart

Anchoring can be a stressful experience in non-ideal conditions, but with few techniques you can rest safe and secure and avoid many of the pitfalls into which we have fallen. Through practice, we have adapted and refined the above techniques to suit our boat and style and it is important to find the right mix for your boat.

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Robin Urquhart is currently sailing through the Pacific with his wife, Fiona, aboard their 1979 Dufour 35 Monark.See more of his writing at, a website aimed at building sailing culture among younger generations.


What is the technique for anchoring? ›

Head slowly into the wind or current to a position upwind or upcurrent of where you actually want to end up. When you are at that position, stop the boat and slowly lower the anchor over the bow to the bottom. Never anchor from the stern as this can cause the boat to swamp.

What are the four steps to anchoring? ›

The Four Steps to Anchoring:
  • Have the person recall a past vivid experience.
  • Provide a specific stimulus at the peak (see chart below)
  • Change the person's state.
  • Set off the anchor to test.

What are the five 5 types of anchor? ›

Types of Anchors. We have sorted most of the common anchors into five major categories: The Hook, Plough, Fluke, Claw and Scoop.

What is anchoring in navigation? ›

Anchoring operations are planning consists of information, instructions, and actions that contribute to a procedure for maneuvering the vessel to the designated anchor position and successfully anchoring in a safe, seamanlike manner taking the prevailing weather conditions and sea state into consideration.

What is the formula for anchoring a boat? ›

We generally recommend a scope ratio of 5:1 minimum, but ideally 7:1 or even more (especially if anchoring overnight), i.e. let out 7 feet of rode for every 1 foot of water depth you're anchoring in, so if you are anchoring in 10 feet of water, you'll let out 70 feet of rode.

What are the different methods for anchoring ships? ›

Various anchorage methods include wind direction and strength, current and tidal current. Often a good knowledge of local conditions helps the seafarer to determine the necessary maneuvers and actions to be taken when anchored.

What is the proper technique for anchoring over the stern? ›

Attach the line to a bow cleat. Never tie the line to the stern: the additional weight could bring on water. Slowly lower the anchor from the bow, rather than the stern, to avoid capsizing or swamping. When the anchor has hit bottom—and sufficient rode is given out—give a solid pull to set the anchor.

What are some examples of anchoring? ›

Anchoring bias occurs when people rely too much on pre-existing information or the first information they find when making decisions. For example, if you first see a T-shirt that costs $1,200 – then see a second one that costs $100 – you're prone to see the second shirt as cheap.

What are the types of anchoring? ›

There are four main types of anchoring junctions- adherens junctions, desmosomes, hemidesmosomes, and cell-matrix adhesion complexes. Each type of anchoring junction is involved in a distinct type of adhesion. Read more..

What are the three main working principles for anchors? ›

There are six basic principles by which an anchor develops its holding power in concrete: friction, keying, threading, adhesion, welding to rebar, and embedding in concrete.

What are the 8 types of anchor? ›

The eight anchors/themes are:
  • Technical/Functional. ...
  • General Managerial. ...
  • Autonomy/Independence. ...
  • Security/Stability. ...
  • Entrepreneurial Creativity. ...
  • Service/Dedication to a Cause. ...
  • Pure Challenge. ...
  • Lifestyle.

What are anchor principles? ›

Summary: People tend to focus on a single, initial piece of information, which influences how they estimate value and make subsequent decisions.

What are the 3 types of anchors? ›

Modern anchor designs that are extremely stable and able to easily grip on to surfaces are generally derived from three standard designs that have been used from the 10th century onwards. These are the – Fluked, Admiralty and Stockless anchor designs that are often still in use for small crafts and lightweight boats.

How many types of anchoring are there? ›

Anchors can be divided into four big groups: grapnels, plough anchors, patent anchors and stock anchors.

What are anchoring questions? ›

These are the questions most fundamentally connected to the broader theoretical framework within which the tasks of class analysis are situated. Primary anchoring questions define the central criteria that the concept of class needs to fulfill in order to function within the agenda of the framework.

What are the rules for anchoring on ship? ›

When securing the anchor for the sea the following steps are carried out:
  • Ensure the Anchor is properly Home.
  • Ensure the break is fully Closed.
  • Put down the Chain Stopper or Guillotine and secure it with the pin.
  • Secure the Devil's Claw to the chain.
  • Disengage the Dog Clutch.
  • Switch off the Windlass.

How many steps is anchoring? ›

Steps in NLP anchoring

Recall a past vivid event, experience. Anchor – provide a specific stimulus. Change state. Test (Place the stimulus) – Evolve the state.

What is the purpose of anchoring? ›

To keep a vessel in one place, anchors are used to combat wind and currents that want to move the vessel off course. Anchors can be temporary, like those most frequently used by boats and ships in shallow water, or permanent, like those used for oil rigs.

What is the rule of thumb for anchoring? ›

As a general rule of thumb, your rode should be 7 to 10 times the depth of the water in which you will anchor.

What is the proper anchor ratio? ›

It is recommended that you use a scope of 7:1, meaning that for every foot of water depth, you should use 7 feet of rode. For example, to anchor in 10 feet of water, you would pay out 70 feet of line. Measure the scope as the ratio of the length of the anchor rode to the height of the bow above the bottom.

How much anchor line per depth? ›

A good rule of thumb is that the length of the line should be at least seven to ten times the depth of the water where you are setting anchor. Since an anchor can be a safety device in an emergency situation, store the anchor and its lines in an accessible area.

What are the 4 different types of anchors? ›

Types of Boat Anchors
  • Mushroom Anchor. Very large mushroom anchors are used for moorings or securing buoys. ...
  • Danforth or Fluke Anchor. ...
  • Plow Anchor. ...
  • Claw Anchor. ...
  • Grapnel Anchor. ...
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What are the two most prevalent methods of anchoring? ›

"Let Go" and "Walk Back" are two of the most prevalent methods used by ships for anchoring.

What is the most effective method of accurately positioning a vessel when anchoring? ›

We should aim for lowering the anchor to around half shackle from the bottom before we let go. Approach the anchor position heading into wind and tide with speed around 2 knots at 0.5NM from the position. Give Stern movement to stop the vessel over the ground once the vessel is in the anchoring position.

What is the proper technique for anchoring quizlet? ›

What is the proper technique for anchoring? From the bow.

What is best for anchoring? ›

The Danforth, or Fluke anchor, remains a very popular anchor choice. The Fortress is also a popular Fluke style anchor, different from the Danforth in that it comes apart and it constructed of light-weight, high-strength, aluminum. The Fluke performs well in mud and sand, potentially the best of any anchor style.

What is anchoring simple? ›

to make something or someone stay in one position by fastening him, her, or it firmly: We anchored ourselves to the rocks with a rope. SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases. Arriving & departing by boat or ship. anchor.

What are the 2 types anchoring? ›

There are two main types of anchors: temporary and permanent. A permanent anchor is called a mooring block and is not easily moved. A temporary anchor can be moved and is carried on the boat. When people talk about anchors, they are usually thinking about temporary anchors.

What is the most common type of anchor? ›

The Delta is arguably the most popular anchor on boats today, and is the standard anchor of choice used by most boat manufacturers. It has a good holding power per pound (about 50% more than the Bruce). Both the Delta and the CQR perform well in most bottoms, struggling the most in rock.

What is the most important maintenance of an anchor? ›

Lubricate Moving Parts

It is particularly important to clean and grease the surfaces of the two clutch cones and the chainwheel where they meet.

What are the 2 main type of loads that anchors transfer? ›

The connection can be made by a variety of different components: anchor bolts (also named fasteners), steel plates, or stiffeners. Anchor bolts transfer different types of load: tension forces and shear forces.

What factor determines anchor? ›

There are two things to consider when buying an anchor: boat size and bottom conditions. The size of the boat determines how big (heavy) the anchor needs to be, and the bottom conditions determine the anchor style.

What is an example of anchoring? ›

Anchoring bias occurs when people rely too much on pre-existing information or the first information they find when making decisions. For example, if you first see a T-shirt that costs $1,200 – then see a second one that costs $100 – you're prone to see the second shirt as cheap.

What is an anchoring technique for anxiety? ›

' It's about using a physical sensation (normally pressing on an acupressure point on your body) to concentrate on and anchor your thoughts and feelings on that point while you wait for the feelings of panic to subside and your breathing to return to normal.

What are the types of anchoring system? ›

The common type of anchors used in such permanent deployment situations is the mushroom, auger, high-holding, and deadweight methods.
  • Mushroom Permanent Anchors. ...
  • Auger Permanent Anchors. ...
  • High Holding Permanent Anchors. ...
  • Deadweight Permanent Anchors. ...
  • Northill Temporary Anchor. ...
  • Grapnel Temporary Anchor.
Mar 10, 2020

What does anchoring mean? ›

Anchoring is a cognitive bias that occurs if someone presents information in a way that limits an audience's range of thought/reference. To suggest values or list options this way is to frame a “desirable” choice/reply. As anchoring can distort users' needs, problems and more, it can impair ideation for design teams.

What is a high anchoring strategy? ›

When conditions are uncertain, high anchors draw our attention to the positive qualities of the item or individual (as in the case of a salary negotiation) being discussed, and low anchors draw attention to flaws, according to Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky.

What is the 5 technique for anxiety? ›

This technique asks you to find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Using this with someone who feels anxious will help to calm them down and reduce their feelings of anxiety.

What is important in anchoring? ›

The purpose of an anchor is to keep a ship safe and secure at a desired location or to help control the ship during bad weather. However, to accomplish these vital purposes, just having an anchor is not enough. The anchor must be solid, dependable, and used properly at the right time and place.

What is a thumb rule in anchoring? ›

Whilst the amount of cable required depends on a number of factors, a rough rule of thumb is: “The amount of cable used should be at least three to four times the depth of water”.

What is positive anchoring? ›

What Is a Positive Emotional Anchor? From the teaching of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), comes the concept of an anchor. The simplest way to explain an anchor is to think of it as a link to an emotional state. The anchor serves as a reminder or a trigger that puts you into a certain state of being.


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