Here is an exchange of e-mails that should be helpful to boaters who are unsure about anchoring.
I’m a pretty new boater (4 years experience) with a Bayliner 2556 and a 22 lb. Delta anchor. Although we always prefer mooring buoys to docks, we haven’t yet anchored overnight — but intend to do so shortly.
As we sat on a mooring buoy at Rosario couple weeks ago, we saw a sailboat lose its anchor and drift into another boat when a fairly strong wind abruptly shifted 180 degrees from south to north. Seems like any anchor would be highly vulnerable to the effect of a radical wind change like this. Do you have any suggestions for preventing this from happening? (I’ve read your very nice anchoring summary in the Waggoner.)
One other detail question: any rule of thumb for setting one’s GPS anchor alarm? Should it equal scope plus length of boat?
Cascade Bay at Rosario is not known to be the most reliable anchorage, so I wouldn’t take that one experience and make it universal. Danforth-style anchors are most likely to have problems with severe veering; Bruce and CQR/Delta are better. In fact, veering capability is one of Bruce’s strengths. Furthermore, we don’t know how large an anchor the dragging boat had, or how well its anchor was set.
Your 22-lb. Delta sounds right for your boat. I wouldn’t worry too much about not having good equipment. As long as the anchor is set securely (there shouldn’t be any doubt), you should be fine.
We just got home from a 6-week trip up the coast to Ocean Falls and Shearwater, and for the first month we had only one night on anchor. The pressure of being at a dock every night was beginning to drive us nuts. Since we made most of our marina visits on the way up we were able to anchor more on the way home, a welcome relief. What I’m saying is, try anchoring. I think you’ll like it.
Now about the anchor alarm. I’ve never set one, so I’m not much help there. The idea of an anchor alarm seems so reasonable, but the effort of figuring out just where the boundaries should be never seemed worthwhile. It doesn’t take much backing down to know if the anchor has set or not, and once set, we’re good.
An example: We tried anchoring in Selby Cove on the north side of Prevost Island in the Gulf Islands, but the anchor dragged with little effort. When I brought the anchor up it was filled with what looked like loose tiny granite gravel, and it shook off easily. Maybe the bottom in that spot was this loose stuff on top of rock — I don’t know. Anyhow, we went down to Glenthorne Passage, where we’ve anchored before. The anchor went down, we backed up to about 3:1 scope and eased the anchor in. The way it grabbed, I knew we’d be good in darn near anything. Next morning I had to hose off big globs of thick, brown mud. Same island, yet two entirely different bottoms.
I think you’ll find the same thing with your Delta. Take the boat up to Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island in the San Juans and put the hook down for the night. Or over to the little inner basin at Port Ludlow. Or down to Blakely Harbor on Bainbridge Island, across from downtown Seattle. All these places have good bottoms and are pretty. Any of them would be a fine place to start.
Thanks for your note. We anchored for two nights at Port Ludlow this past weekend and loved it. I was surprisingly relaxed about it all—you’re right, once the anchor feels set, it definitely is!