The anchor is most often used for fun, to enjoy a prime spot of water and take your attention off navigation. But anchoring is also an important safety precaution, both for the safety of you and your crew and for the protection of your boat and those around you.
A wide variety of anchors are available for use on bridge boats, and purchasing considerations include setting ability, resistance to reversing, ease of release, price, and even aesthetics while on the anchor roller. Among the more frequently chosen anchor styles for bridge boats are Bruce (claw), CQR (hinged plow), Danforth, Delta (plow), Fortress, Rocna and Spade.
Many anchor names refer to the company that originated the design, though often models are also offered by additional manufacturers. Different anchor types excel in different conditions. For instance, Bruce, CQR and Delta anchors tend to work well on hard, rocky and grassy surfaces. Danforth and Fortress anchors tend to set more effectively in sand and mud. The plow-type anchors traditionally are most effective when the direction of the line reverses, while fluke-type anchors tend to provide the most extreme holding power when set well.
Meridian Yachts delivered with a factory anchor are equipped with a Delta anchor in varying weights according to the size of the boat. Delta anchors are widely regarded as a great "all-around" anchor, providing a solid hold on many bottom surfaces.
For rode (the line that connects your anchor to your boat), Meridian recommends a length of galvanized chain which will endure wear and tear, and sink with the anchor and a longer length of nylon line which will stretch in heavy waves or wind, cushioning the strain on the boat and the anchor. The anchor-and-rode combo systems available on Meridian Yachts vessels vary in weight and length by vessel size; for instance, the 341 Sedan may be paired with a 35-pound anchor, 40 feet of chain and 150 feet of line. Conventional wisdom suggests a minimum of one foot of chain for every foot of boat length, however many boaters who operate in more challenging conditions may have two, three or even five feet of chain for every foot of boat length.
Even with the ideal anchor and rode package for conditions, scope is a critical factor in anchoring success. The length of rode needed, determined by the distance between the deck of the boat and the sea bottom, should generally employ a ratio between 5:1 and 8:1. A scope in this range will generally provide for a good anchor set, as the angle of the line will be acute enough to allow for maximum contact between anchor and sea bottom. (Meaning, if the water is 10 feet deep, let out at least 50 feet of rode.) In stronger winds, higher ratios of scope to depth may help keep your anchor set.
When choosing an anchorage, inspect the area carefully, remembering to account for 360 degrees of possible swing due to shifts in wind direction. There should be no other boats within the radius of your scope, nor any underwater impediments or areas that are too shallow. It's critical to know the depth of your anchorage so you can determine the proper scope (after applying a scope ratio).
Additional anchoring tips:
- Consider using colored spray paint to denote various lengths of scope that have been let out (black stripe 25 feet, blue stripe 50 feet, etc.) It makes it quick and easy to see how much scope you've left out or have left when retrieving.
- Make sure that the bitter end of your anchor line is attached to your boat! More than one anchor has been lost as the captain watches that unfastened end slip around the windlass and off the anchor roller.
- Once the anchor is at bottom, back down slowly as you continue to let out the appropriate scope. Once you've let out the desired amount, progressively add reverse throttle to securely set the anchor.
- For windlass longevity, when retrieving the line and anchor use the boat engines to move the boat back toward and over the anchor. Most windlasses are designed to lift the weight of the anchor, not to pull the weight of the boat.
- Always note the distance and orientation of nearby landmarks to keep track of drift. This way you'll notice if the anchor becomes loose. Alternatively, many current GPS plotters allow you to set a drift alarm that will sound if the boat moves outside of a set radius.
- Take account of the tides and the additional rode that may be needed. A rise in water level will not lift the anchor; it will simply increase the angle of the rode enough that the anchor won't hold. Conversely, a great anchoring spot can become a headache if the tide lowers so much that you're left with not enough depth for your boat to safely depart.
- There are a variety of situations where the use of multiple anchors is desirable. There are extensive resources available online explaining different approaches, or you can always consult the nearest Meridian Yachts dealer for additional tips!