Boat Anchor Winches – A Lesson in Safety

Boating is one of the most enjoyed good weather activities. It is also one of the safest forms of fun there is as long as certain rules are followed. Knowing what boat anchor to use and how to use it is an important responsibility for the water sport enthusiast. The next time the days warmth lures you to the cooling comfort of the water, keep these ideas in mind.

Most people are aware that a weight is used to stop your boat. It is this weight that keeps your seaworthy vessel secured to a certain spot. So why then is it so vital to keep the anchor always ready for use? There are times when anchoring your boat could be required due to an emergency situation. The anchor and its rope should be washed after each outing and then properly coiled. Nothing could be worse than for the anchor to become tangled and not release properly when it is most needed. Close attention must be paid to the rope itself and be prepared to replace it at the first sign of wear and tear.

An anchor can be attached to all chain, or a mix of chain and rope can be used. The advantage of using all chain allows the added weight to secure your boat more quickly. Different weather conditions that you may encounter while at sea lets you know just how much anchor you need to release at any given time. Good weather would follow a three to one ratio. This means that your anchor will go across three feet of water for each foot that it travels down the waters depths. This is the least that should be used for safe anchoring and you can go up to eight to one for rough waters.

If your outing is leisurely and you decide to stop and take in the suns rays, choose your harbor carefully and know what conditions are best for the support weight you have. There are variations in how anchors are designed and some of them work best in reef areas while others are suited to sandy bottoms. Locating a sandy spot for anchoring is usually best. Grassy areas should be avoided as the anchor could snag or slip and never should you anchor on coral.

Once you are at your chosen spot, you should place your craft in an upwind position. The wind will then gently guide your vessel backwards. If there is no wind the same thing can be accomplished by putting the boat in reverse. The idea behind this maneuver is to then guide the anchor into the water. I am sure you have seen some movies where the operator is throwing the anchor overboard. This is total folly and never should be done. Let the weight and the water act as a guide until the anchor reaches the bottom of the water. Never under any circumstances should you keep the rope running through your hands. This could result in very serious injury should you become entangled in it. Once your anchor has safely reached bottom, be sure and securely fasten the remaining rope to the boat.

Another good point to follow is to check for two landmarks once you have the boat secured. Two points that line up are a good way to accomplish this and from time to time check to make sure these two points continue to line up. If they do not stay aligned, it is a good indication that your boat may be drifting. Just because your anchor is on the floor of the sea does not mean the it has become embedded there. It can drag along the bottom. If you notice that you seem to be drifting, one way to stop this action would be to let out a little more rope.

Not all water crafts are outfitted with a winch. If your boat is one of them, drive slowly forward as you bring the line in. This lets the boat do some of the work and it makes it easier for you. The line must be kept tight to avoid it from drifting and getting caught up in the motor. If you should happen to hit a snag there a couple of things you can do. You can let out more line and then begin your approach from a different direction. Reversing the boat slowly can also aid in releasing a snag.

Today’s anchors vary greatly from the old ones in size and weight. Their holding power comes more from their design then anything else. Pulling horizontally along the river bottom allows for the anchor to dig deeply and securely. Reversing the pull in the opposite direction allows for simple retrieval. From lightweight, to heavyweight, to specialty anchors, each of them is designed to do a specific job. The one you use should be based on boat size, the condition of the sea bottom where you typically cruise, where it is going to be stored, and weather conditions for your area.

Whenever possible the boater should carry two anchors preferably of different design. This allows the boating enthusiast to always be ready for what the conditions may bring about. Additionally, if one anchor is lost, there is another that can be used as a backup. Knowing proper anchoring is just one of many aspects involved in safe boating. To ensure years of great boating experiences, all safe practices should be learned and followed. Bon Voyage!