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Updated 11/17/04


Hello All,

After observing the attempts of a several of our fellow Columbia owners trying to anchor in the past few weeks I thought maybe we should have a little discussion about this topic, mostly for safety reasons....and I want to keep them from draging into me. Normally I would not say anything but since I was informed by one of the said owner's, maybe I should mention the name of the boat here but I won't, that my 100' of anchor chain down in 15' of water was too much and I didn't need to take up the entire anchorage. Then again it took this person almost an hour and numerous tries to get his anchor and 30' of rode to hold. Just glad he moved from up wind of me.

Columbia's have a higher freeboard than most boats of the same size. Use an anchor that is the next size up than the recommended one.

6' of chian is fine for the lunch hook on your little power boat but will not work well for any Columbia. Use at least the length of your boat if not more. Chain is the key to keeping the anchor at the correct angle to the bottom.

When you drop your anchor try to have your bow into the wind or current. Let the boat drift until the anchor grabs. If you start backing down as soon as it hits bottom it's going to skip across the bottom in most cases. After it grabs then back down. Please DO NOT back across all the other anhcor rodes and pull them up. This is what was happening when the person informed me I couldn't have the entire anchorage. Observe what the wind and current conditions are and how they are affecting the boats in the anchorage.

One rule of thumb is let out enough rode for a 7:1 ratio. While this may seem extreme to some it will keep you from dragging into your neighbor. When figuring out how much rode to let out don't forget to add the height from the deck to the waterline. I have been doing it by this rule of thumb for 30 years and have been thru winds in excess of 100mph with no problems. Wish I could say the same for the boats around me.

I sincerely hope this is helpful. I'm sure there are others out there that will have different ideas about this. I'm always open to new or better ideas. The day I stop listening to my fellow boaters is the day I need to sell my boat.

Safe boating.

Capt Keith
Mele Makani C45 #116
Somewhere safe on the east coast



Am planning to buy a 16.5 lb Bruce (not a cheap look alike) next weekend
along with 30' of 5/8 chain to be used as my primary anchor in the San Juans next
year.  I still have 2 Danforths with 25' of chain each and a total of 1300' of
rode.  Can't afford a CQR.  Comments on other types?

Chris and Maria
1969 Coronado 23
Hull # 31
Long Beach CA.


Chris & Maria

Got this off another site:

2)PRACTICAL SAILOR ANCHOR TESTS listed best to worst in order.)

Feb 1, 1998 for SETTING in wet packed sand
Bruce - "clear winner" (less good at hold)
Super Max
Fortress FX-11
West Marine Performance
Danforth 20-H

Jan 1, 1999 HOLDING in sand
Spade model 80 (new)
Bulwagga (new)
WM Performance
Super Max
Danforth Deepset II

Dec, 1999 in MUD
Danforth Deepset II

Jan 15, 2001 for RESETTING in muddy sand
Super Max
Spade model 80

Jan 15, 2002 SET, RESET & HOLD in sandy mud
Kingston Quickset (new) done good.
Digger - would not set

Dec, 2003 SET & RESET AFTER 90* VEER, soft sand over hard sand (sharp points did best)
Bruce & XYZ set "excellent"
CQR set "fair"
ten others all set "Good"
All stayed buried during the 90 degree veer
(listed alphabetically)
Anchor...........LBS...Max Hold..Efficiency*
Davis Talon XT.35.....550......15.7
Spade Model 80.16.....450......28.1
Spade Oceane....28.....200.......7.1
Super Max 16........44.....200.......4.5
WM Performance.26.....550......21.2
* Efficiency = anchor weight/hold lbs.

CONCLUSION of this last test
"...anchors that could get sharp points into the hard-packed sand beneath the surface layer of soft sand did best."
"The Danforth-type has proven itself for decades in many conditions. The lightness of the Fortress...didn't hurt it in this test. ...every test we've made of the Spade Model 80 has been positive. So if this kind of bottom were our "home" bottom we would choose Fortress or Spade. Alternatively, we'd get the Spade and a heavier, galvanized Danforth type or a Bulwagga (in the 27-lb version)..."

Kip & Beth
'92 M26S "Tigger Too"
Gettysburg, PA


Ahoy anchorers!

The rule is 7:1 (at high tide) for all nylon rode, and 3:1 for all
chain. The problem arises when we learn that we are not the only boat
in the ocean, and others have discovered our "secret" anchorage (that
was on the charts all the time...). Indeed, 100' rode in only 15' of
water is a bit excessive from the practical standpoint.  So I
generally do what would be best if everyone did it. In this case, if
everyone used 7:1 scope, only a few boats could fit anywhere, and it
is likely that you would be closed out of your favorite anchorage.
Never willing to compromise safety, I use all chain with a nylon
snubber. With my 50 lb Bruce, I use 15' of heavy chain, shackled to
200' of lighter chain. I put out 2.5:1 scope in normal weather, 3.5:1
in a storm. If the water is deeper than 75', I would need to use
nylon on the end of the chain- never happened yet. Even with high
Bill Tripp freeboard, the chain normally hangs close to vertical,
indicating that the anchor is absolutely horizontal. (No worry about
someone backing over it!) Then I can sleep at night, knowing that I
am not only secure, but also being a good citizen.

If we all do this, then we can reduce a rather obnoxious trend that
seems to be emerging. In more and more quiet coves and anchorages in
and around uninhabited islands, I am seeing moorings pop up. People
are identifying their favorite anchorage, and dropping a mooring in
the middle of it. Others follow suit and soon there is no room for
anchoring. Some harbor masters are cracking down on this, others not.
The argument for moorings is that you can fit more in a small area,
compared to 7:1 nylon rode. This is true, but not if we all used
chain. While I always feel perfectly free to pick up one of these
invasive moorings, I never do so in weather, as I don't know what is
down on the bottom nor when it was inspected (although the size and
condition of the pennant gives some crude indication). So again, it
is back to anchor and chain.

Fair winds,
C-35 "Spray"

PS- I disagree with waiting until the anchor is down to begin backing
down. I want to make sure the chain lays in a straight line away from
the anchor, not tangled on top of it. I slowly lower the anchor
(never throw it!!!) until it touches down, then signal the helm to
back down as I continue to lay out more rode. Once I get to about 2:1
scope (all chain), I set it, and then let out more.


Dork, on our club's moorings we have to replace the chains that link the
mooring balls to the anchors every 3 years or so as the links tend to wear
out due to electrolysis, acidity in the mud, or rubbing from kinking. 

Different weight mushroom anchors have been used to accommodate different
size vessels.  In Annapolis they use screw-in type mooring anchors.  I doubt
that those that just drop a mooring in their favorite spot have given any
consideration to these technical points. 

I also doubt if any of them carried in on their bow a 300 lb mushroom like
we use for our largest mooring.  It would be like Russian Roulette to pick
up one of these unknowns and get caught on it in a blow.

Dan Johnson
1972 Coronado 27 #316
Sailing out of Charlestown, MD


It would have made it much easier to compare if they had used a common
denominator so that they could be properly compared
Glenn Spicer
Maple Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada


I'm sure you have been very successful with your by the book method....but I
do disagree with your rational on this. I'm not sure where you are anchoring
but I'm presently in Norfolk where the anchorage at Hostipal Pt experineced
70 mph winds and 50 mph winds during thunderstorms in the past two weeks.
2.5:1 will not hold in those conditons or 3.5:1. Yes, maybe you could have
let out more rode in time but that is difficult to do from the other side of
the river while having dinner.

The next time you are in an anchorge observe how many boats use all chain.
You will find most of them that do are cruiser's not your weekend sailor
that has 6' of chain.

As far as someone backing over your rode I wasn't referring to their boat
itself pulling up your anchor but their ANCHOR snagging your rode as it goes
skipping across it. You may have been fortunate so far but sooner or later
if you do as much anchoring as I do you will have some fool drag acorss your
anchor rode pulling it up or dragging into your boat....I've had both. I
just hope it's not you the next time.

Your comment about backing down is a good one. Perhaps I should have been a
little clearer on the term backing down. I agree with backing at IDLE speed
to ensure the chain does not pileup. But agian....please note the number of
boats using all chain. What I see people do is increase the rpm as soon as
the anchor hits the bottom and then it goes skipping across the bottom while
they are trying to figure out what the problem is.

As I said at the beginning I do disagree with your method but that is what
makes this world we live in such a wonderful adventure. One I am throughly
enjoying on the hook safely at 7:1.

Capt Keith
Mele Makani C45 #116


On a side note, we were out sailing a while back when someone called Vessel
Assist to report that they had an engine out and were drifting toward the
rocks.  When asked if they had an anchor, the proud skipper replied that yes of
course he had an anchor.  He also had 3' of chain and a 6' rope somewhere!  Chris


There have been whole books written about anchoring.  Cap't Mike talked
about the length of chain and how much line he put out in fifteen feet of
water.  I don't know how high his bow is off the water but he had about the
recommended scope for an over nighter in calm waters (7:1)  You mentioned
going out to get some chain.  One rule of thumb is a minimum of boat length,
which assumes a boat the warrants ground tackle for overnighters or longer.
I've read that the minimum should be 25', but I've also read that a safe set
can be obtained without any chain at all.  Others swear by an all chain
rode.  The arguments for chain that make the most sense to me are that the
chain holds the rode more nearly parallel to the bottom thereby keeping the
load on the anchor down so that it digs in.  The other is that it will take
the chafing of dragging across the bottom better as the boat moves about.
The argument for all chain is that the weight of the chain gives more of a
catenary which reduces the shock loads at the anchor as the boat moves.  The
down side is weight and cost.
The simplistic rule of thumb of 3:1 for lunch, 7:1 for protected waters and
10:1 for unprotected waters will serve in most cases, but you can see the
problem of diving into a storm hole with a zillion other boats all trying to
get out 10:1!  That's were the need for some creativity is in order.  A
stern anchor to limit swing is one way used but it has some real
disadvantages in tides or when the sea or wind change.  My favorite way is
to use two anchors, one set upwind and the other set down wind 15 or 20
times the depth.  The technique is to set the first anchor, back off feeding
out line to the point for the second anchor; set that anchor.  Move to the
mid point between the anchors and fasten the rodes together.  I have a large
chain link that has a 75 foot pendant eye spliced on it using the same size
line as the rode. I fasten  the rode of anchors to it using a bowline on a
bight.  The rodes need to be pulled as snug as you can get them.  Now drop
the link over the side and attach the pendant to your boat with enough slack
so that the chain link will remain on the bottom with the tides and swell.
Result; you never have less than a ten to one scope, the tenancy to twist
the anchor out is minimized and your swing circle is close to an effective
two to one.  The Down sides are getting there early enough to have
maneuvering room, having to carry a lot of ground tackle and having to wait
until enough people leave so that you can pick up your rig.
There many other techniques to lessen swing without lessening effective
scope, but this one seems to work for me.  It also lessens the chance of
someone snagging your ground tackle because it is mostly on the bottom.  It
can also confuse others because you won't swing the way they do.



I used to put out a small float to mark my anchor.......until a larger stink
pot wraped it in his prop as he was setting his anchor and pulled it an my
anchor into his prop. I felt bad for him after I saw the damage to his prop
and strut but on the other hnd I was the ONLY other boat in the anchorage
and there was plenty of room to anchor.

Perhaps someone can answer this question I've had for years. Your in a large
anchorage.......the only boat......and the next boat that comes in anchors
right next to you.....why don't they go a little farther away?

Capt Keith
Mele Makani C45 #116



Technically, shouldn't a boat at anchor hoist a black ball, light at night,
to signify being at anchor.

             Pat N            


Not just technically, it's partof International Regs!
"Directors' Special"
C34 Mk2 (Oz Built) #615
Rhyll, Australia



You are correct unless your in a designated anchorge. But.....most boaters
don't have a clue what that black ball means.

Capt Keith
Mele Makani C45 #116
Somewhere safe on the east coast



Betcha most sailors do!

George Istok - Le'a
1969 Columbia 26 MkII
St. Joseph, Michigan



Well, not exactly; 
"Lights and Shapes
Anchored Vessels and Vessels Aground
(a) A vessel at anchor shall exhibit where it can best be seen:
(i) in the fore part, an all-round white light or one ball;
(ii) at or near the stern and at a lower level than the light prescribed in
subparagraph (i), an all-round white light.
(b) A vessel of less than 50 meters in length may exhibit an all-round white
light where it can best be seen instead of the lights prescribed in
(a) of this Rule.
(c) A vessel at anchor may, and a vessel of 100 meters and more in length
shall, also use the available working or equivalent lights to illuminate her

It goes on to say,

Lights and Shapes
(e) A vessel of less than 7 meters in length, when at anchor, not in or near
a narrow channel, fairway or anchorage, or where other vessels normally
navigate, shall not be required to exhibit the lights or shape prescribed in
paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Rule. (f) A vessel of less than 12 meters in
length, when aground, shall not be required to exhibit the lights or shapes
prescribed in subparagraphs (d)(i) and (ii) of this Rule."

Lights and Shapes
(e) A vessel of less than 7 meters in length, when at anchor, not in or near
a narrow channel, fairway, anchorage, or where other vessels normally
navigate, shall not be required to exhibit the lights or shape prescribed in
paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Rule.
(f) A vessel of less than 12 meters in length when aground shall not be
required to exhibit the lights or shapes prescribed in subparagraphs (d)(i)
and (ii) of this Rule.
(g) A vessel of less than 20 meters in length, when at anchor in a special
anchorage area designated by the Secretary, shall not be required to exhibit
the anchor lights and shapes required by this Rule."

So a boat less that 7 meters (23 feet) long does not need to show any
light(night) of ball (day)unless it is in or near a narrow channel, etc..
Where other vessels normally navigate.
A vessel less that 20 meters (65.6 feet) anchored in a special anchorage
doesn't need to show shapes or lights.  Special anchorages are designated on
the charts as such.  They are NOT just areas of out of the way waters where
it is otherwise permitted to anchor.

BTY, any boat longer than 12 meters (39.4 feet is required to have a current
copy of Nav Rules on board.

All of the above is what the law requires.  Prudence says that you should do
every thing you can to avoid unpleasant meetings including turning on your
anchor light even it isn't required.