Cruising in the dark for the first time and wondering what must you do when anchoring at night. Don’t worry, here we are sharing all the tips and precautionary measures to be taken into account while you’re out on the dark waters.
What Must You Do When Anchoring At Night
Follow these steps when anchoring at night:
1. Select a secluded place to anchor at night, preferably a familiar spot.
2. Check the depth of the water plus seabed whether there is rock, sand, coral, weeds or mud, etc. Sand is the best holding ground for most anchors.
3. Choose the anchor accordingly.
4. The scope should be 7:1 – depth of water x 7 ( in case of calm waters) in windy situations go for 10:1.
5. Bring the boat to a halt position and carefully lower the anchor until it reaches the bottom. Remember to drop it from the bow of the boat.
6. Now slowly reverse the boat and release the anchor ride till the anchor is fully set and the cable has lain properly.
7. After the anchor has fully set, search for some stationary points like a building or rock and use them as a reference point for your boat.
8. Wait for a while and let your boat settle. After some time check the position of your boat, is there any change in its position? If not then your anchor is in place and you’re not dragging it.
9. Next, switch off your navigation lights and turn on the anchor light. It is mandatory to display an all-around white light from sunset to sunrise.
10. For your safety, it is recommended to consider an anchor watch or you can set a GPS alarm.
Selection of a Site
The first and foremost step should be to choose a location that is shielded from tides and wind. The site should already be known to you.
Go there in the daytime and look around to spot the obstruction if any and familiarize yourself with the place and its bottom. Check what type of bottom is it. Whether it is sandy, muddy, or rocky.
Ideally, the anchorage should be at a secluded place. It is hard to see small boats with low-powered lights at night so selecting a location with low traffic is preferable.
Plus there should be enough space for your boat to sway in case of wind or tides without colliding with the nearby boats.
Selection of an Anchor
Another important point is the selection of an anchor. There are different types and sizes of anchors available for different situations.
You need to select the right one that best suits you in that situation. It also depends upon the size of your boat. You can carry two different types of anchors if you have space.
This will benefit you in changing weather conditions. You can have a heavier and bigger anchor for a windy day and a smaller one for a much calmer day.
Check out the weather condition and the seabed.
Sand is thought to be the best holding ground and soft mud is not recommended as it cannot hold strongly.
A few of them are discussed below:
1. Fisherman’s anchor It is the most common anchor and is good for penetrating through weeds to find the rock. It can not be stored easily due to its shape and size.
2. Plow or Delta anchor It is one of the modern anchors which holds well in most conditions. The angled fluke helps to dig in when the anchor rope changes its direction because of wind and tide. It’s better in mud and weed but does not do well on smooth rock.
3. Grapnel Folding anchor This anchor is mostly used for small boats and is very popular with fishermen. It is good for stowing in small spaces. This can hold onto rocks fairly well, especially on jagged rocks. It can also be used to recover things that are left on the seabed.
4. Mushroom anchor It is shaped like a mushroom as the name suggests. This anchor is better for a river with a muddy bottom than for a sea with a rocky bottom. It doesn’t have any sharp edges so less chance of getting any injury.
5. Bruce or Claw anchor It is a good all-rounder, especially good in sand, mud, and shingle but can not hold on to smooth rock. This also does not penetrate through weed. It can not be stored easily due to its bulky size and shape.
6. Danforth anchor or fluke anchors A lightweight anchor, also a good all-rounder, especially good in sand, mud, and shingle but is not good for flat rocky bottoms covered with weeds. It is popular with smaller boats as it folds flat and can be stored easily.
The anchor cable is the chain or the rope that attaches the anchor to the boat. The selection of the road mainly depends upon the size of the vessel and the place where you are anchoring.
You can choose from an all-rope or an all-chain anchor rode and sometimes the combination of both will work.
A nylon three-strand line is the best choice for small boats to use as anchor cable as it is lightweight and affordable. However, it is not suitable in certain weather conditions but can be used as a ride for a “lunch hook” in peaceful conditions.
Larger vessels that have windlasses usually use all-chain ropes which helps them in lowering the anchor slowly and settling it down more securely. The chain rode lies on the bottom firmly and lessens the requirement of a longer scope.
The major drawback of all-chain rode is its weight which can cause speed and performance issues for some lightweight cruising boats.
Sometimes a combination of chain and rope is used for anchoring rods. Generally, a chain up to the length of the boat is fastened to a rope.
The shackle with which it is fastened can be loosened with time so it should be inspected now and then.
The length of the anchor cable should be determined before lowering the anchor into the water. It is usually 7:1 when anchoring at night but we can add more if the weather conditions change.
The depth of water is multiplied by 7 to figure out the length of the anchor road. For instance, if the depth sounder is measuring the depth under the keel and is 7 meters and from there till the anchor roller, it is 3 meters then it would be 7+3=10 x 7=70
In this case, the scope to be used would be 70 meters.
If there is enough space for your boat to sway then slightly less would do, but with strong winds and poor holding ground, you may need a 10-to-1 ratio scope. However, during the daytime 5:1 would be enough.
Setting The Anchor
You need to see the direction of the wind and the tide and which one is stronger. Once you have checked it out, you should head your vessel in that direction.
After reaching your anchor position, stop the vessel and lower the anchor from the front part of the boat usually referred to as a bow. Do not drop from the stern as it may result in flooding or capsizing of the boat.
Carefully start laying the chain flat along the seabed and not in a pile. Slowly reverse your boat and let out the required cable.
After all the cable is out, give it a minute to settle and then rev backward for a few seconds to ensure the tight grip of the anchor. This process would enable the anchor to dig into the seabed properly and hold onto it tightly.
Search for a reference point for your boat, it may be any building or a rock. This reference point will enable you to check the position of your boat, whether it is moving or not, and your anchor is in place or you’re dragging it.
After you have finished, switch off your navigation lights and turn on an all-around white light. It is mandatory to display a white light which should be visible from all sides. This rule is for your safety, which can protect you from any potential danger.
For your safety, it is recommended to have an anchor watch and don’t solely rely on gadgets. You can set your GPS alarm but for additional security consider a night watch.
The weather conditions may change and you can drag your anchor plus you don’t have any control over the traffic. Another boat can bump into your vessel. To avoid these hazards a night watch is a must.
Two or more persons can rotate duties for the night watch. In this way, it would be easier and not tiresome.
It is not only the anchor gear responsible for perfect anchoring, the technique is important as well. The combination of both will do the task accurately.
Expectantly now you know what must you do when anchoring at night.
Go and plan a small getaway with your friends on your boat.
Chill and have a peaceful night out with your loved ones.