Anchoring your fishing boat

Discussion in 'Catfishing Library' started by dademoss, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. dademoss

    dademoss Member

    [font=Verdana,Arial,Helvetica]Anchoring your boat.

    At least for now, there is no Federal requirement for carrying an anchor aboard your recreational vessel. The state of Ohio does require all vessels to carry an anchor, but there is a lot more to successful anchoring than just having one on board
    Many boaters feel that an anchor is merely a device for tossing overboard when you want to stop for lunch or slip into a quiet cove for a few casts. If you're caught in a storm and fighting desperately to keep your disabled boat from being swept onto a rocky shore or into some other dangerous area, however, you'll be glad to have something with pointy things on it dragging across the bottom and eventually digging in or holding on. An anchor is also the way to hold your boat in the river, right over the spot where that big catfish is hiding!
    Anchoring goes back to prehistoric days. Large stones have been found in ancient seabeds with telltale grooves or holes drilled in them. Through thousands of years, anchors have evolved from grooved stones, to stones put in baskets or cages, then wood and stones, then wood and iron, and finally to the more modern navy and CQR (secure) anchors and today's popular Danforth style. But I doubt that the improvements came about because of a pressing need to keep the boat in place while lunch was being served.
    With today's advanced materials and low cost, there really is no reason that a modern recreational vessel shouldn't be equipped with at least one anchor and adequate rode (anchor line and chain). The anchor should be the right size for the boat, and the rode should be appropriate to the depth of water in which the vessel usually operates. In general terms, for a long term anchorage the rode should be at least seven times as long as the water is deep, measured from the deck of the boat to the bottom. In heavy weather, extend the rode to at least 10 times the depth of the water. So, if you expect to hold your boat securely in thirty feet of water, you should expect to pay out at least 210 feet of anchor line. For a quick stop, I usually use between 3 and 5 times the depth. A length of chain between the anchor and the line can give you added holding power. The chain will keep the flukes low where the anchor can set more easily, and, unlike fiber lines, won't be victim to abrasion on a rocky or sandy bottom.
    A float added to the end of your rode closest to the boat will help keep you from running over the line should you need to cast loose quickly to follow that huge cat, or get out of the way of an oncoming boat that can’t avoid you. It will also allow you to find the line and retrieve all your ground gear.
    If you're anchoring overnight, or leaving the vessel temporarily without a watch stander, be sure and check your boat's "swing" radius before settling in. If the wind changes, you don't want your boat swinging into someone else's mooring area or shore. Also, to check whether your anchor is set, visually establish a relative sighting between something on your boat, like a cleat, and some landmark on shore, if possible. Then check every five or ten minutes to see if the landmark has moved relative to your onboard marker. By checking it frequently for the first half-hour or so, you'll soon know whether any movement is because of normal boat swing, or because you're adrift.
    Now, some steps for securing your boat.
    Store Your Anchor Conveniently. Anchor and rode stowage in small boats is limited, and I use a plastic milk crate to stow my anchor gear out of the way until needed. Lay the rode in from the bitter end(the end not tied to the anchor) and don't bother coiling it, then add the chain, and top it off with the anchor. It dries quickly and, best of all, the rode never tangles like it does on the deck of the boat. A great investment for less than $5 in the housewares department of Wal-Mart.
    Know the Bottom. A local chart will alert you to underwater obstructions as well as tell you if the bottom is mud, sand, rock or grass, and this information may encourage you to move your planned anchoring site to an area with better holding. The bottom characteristics are represented on charts by common symbols such as Rky (rocky), M (mud), S (sand), Cl (clay) or Grs (grass).
    Use the Right Anchor. You'll maximize your holding power by matching your anchor with the type of bottom, but the subject of "best anchor" has always been a topic of debate among boaters. There are two types of anchors: burying and hooking. Burying anchors penetrate and grip the bottom material, while hooking anchors rely on snagging the surface of the bottom. Burying anchors, such as the Danforth, Fortress, CQR, Bruce, Navy and wishbone are best in sand, clay, and mud bottoms. With the exception of the CQR, grass is a problem for burying anchors because they can't penetrate the surface to bite. Hooking anchors, such as the old-fashioned hook and the grapnel, are best in gravel, coral, rock and weed-covered bottoms. There is no best anchor, so make a selection that will handle the majority of bottoms in your area. Talk to experienced boat owners in your area to find out what they use and why. You may want to carry two types of anchors so you'll always have a good bite on various bottoms.
    Use the Right Rode. Your anchor gear consists of two elements: the anchor and the rode. Rode is the nautical term for the length of line that connects the anchor with the boat. The rode should be a stretchy line (usually nylon) to help absorb shocks from wave action, and you need a length of chain at the anchor to hold the rode close to the bottom for maximum holding power of the anchor. The length of chain also helps protect your nylon rode from abrasion on rocky bottoms. The chain length is variable, with 20-foot boats using chain lengths of between 10 feet and 20 feet. Your rode should be at least six times the deepest harbor you plan to use, plus another 10 to 20 percent for a safety margin. If you have two sets of anchors, you can shackle the two rodes together if you need additional length.
    Determine the Proper Scope. The usual scope for good weather is 6:1, (6 feet of anchor rode for every 1 foot of depth) which will give you good holding. In unstable weather or exposed anchorages, add more scope for insurance. You should have marked your anchor rode (inexpensive plastic tags are available at marine hardware stores) so you'll know how much to rode to let out.
    Don't Splash. Never throw the anchor over the bow: it's a sure way to both tangle your anchor and mark yourself as an amateur. Even worse, you could tangle your foot in the line or forget to fasten it to an anchor point and loose all your ground gear. Be sure that the boat has stopped all forward motion before lowering the anchor, or you could tangle your propeller.
    Set the Anchor Firmly. Back up steadily, paying out anchor rode until you reach the predetermined scope. Secure the rode to a bow cleat, and continue using reverse power to help the anchor dig in securely. Line up a couple of landmarks on each side (don't use other boats — they move) to see if you are holding firmly or dragging anchor. Once anchored, give the anchor rode a solid tug to see if it's holding. You'll feel it if the anchor skips along the bottom. From time to time, check your bearings to see if you've moved.
    Beware of Abrasion. Keep an eye open for chafe. An anchor rode moving over a rough edge with every wave can wear through in minutes. If necessary, use rags to insulate the rode or move it to a better location. A bow roller is valuable protection if you anchor regularly.
    As you're going over your checklist this year, pay particular attention to your ground tackle - - anchor, line, chain, shackles, it’s the parking brake for your boat!