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PA Boating Handbook
It is essential that every boater becomes proficient in anchoring. Some anchoring considerations include:
  • Type and weight of the boat.
  • Character of the bottom in the area you are boating (rocky, sandy).
  • Average depth of the water.
  • Strength of the wind and current.
  • Diameter of the anchor line.
There are different types of anchors: kedge for rocks and heavy grasses, burying for sand and mud, mushroom for permanent moorings. The two questions boaters should ask themselves about anchoring are: which type of anchor will they need, and how much rode (the length of the anchor line) is necessary?

Anchors hold best when the pull of the rode on the anchor is as near to horizontal as possible. The holding power of an anchor increases as the scope ratio increases. A ratio of 7:1 is standard; 10:1 is better in rough water. For example, if boating in eight feet of water and the bow is two feet above the waterline, 70 feet of rode is recommended. Boaters should carry at least two anchors. A smaller, lighter anchor is good for use in calm weather and for positioning a boat, and a larger anchor is best for bad weather or when anchoring overnight. Never anchor from the stern, especially in current or waves. The anchor line should be tied to the bow. The end of the anchor rode (called the bitter end) must be secured to the boat.

To anchor, the boat should be headed into the wind or current. The engine is then reversed, or the boat is allowed to back off. When the boat begins to drift backward, lower the anchor from the bow (front of the boat). No one should be standing on any part of the anchor line. When about a third of the rode is out, the rode is tied off to a forward cleat to make the anchor dig into the bottom. Once the anchor digs in, the remaining rode is let out. A sight bearing is then taken on some stationary objects to make certain that the anchor is not dragging on the bottom.

Anchors can also be used as safety devices in an emergency situation. The operator may drop the anchor quickly to avoid running aground in the event the boat loses power. Make sure the anchor and line are stored in an easily accessible place.

Exercise caution when “weighing” (pulling up) anchor. The combination of anchor pull, current and weight can swamp a small boat. The anchor should be lifted as vertically as possible. As it is lifted, it can be washed. Take care that it does not hit the side of the boat.

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