One of the great joys in this fantastic weather is being out on the water, brilliant warm sunshine and boiling flat seas, its all happening this summer. So just a thought, have you considered the option of spending a night at anchor rather than travel back to a marina? Not only does this offer new places to stay rather than just visiting, but can really open the possibilities of cruising as it allows you to explore some more remote corners just ‘getting away from it all’
So what’s involved? Well is really a case of doing the same drills that you would for a lunch stop but with a little bit more forethought and planning so that you can sleep easy!
The little bit of planning required:
You are going to have to have a proper look at the chart for not just the standard marked anchorages but also check the pilot books. You want good information on the type of seabed as you are looking for something with good holding. Some good choices are mud, sand, gravel can be ok, weedy areas less so, what’s under them can be great but it can be harder to get the anchor to bite through the weed, probably best to avoid them. Sadly we don’t all have the stunning blue water and clarity that you get in the Mediterranean or even some parts of the UK, where you can see what you are anchoring on! Next we need to consider the range of the tide, you need enough scope (chain) out to cover the full range of the tide during our stay without anchoring too deep at the start, most of the UK has a reasonable 3 – 5m range some areas like the Bristol Channel make this a bit more challenging with spring ranges of over 10m!
You just need to select your spot where the depth of water is never too shallow at low water so you need to remember to look at how much the tide will fall to the next low water, add on your draft the safety clearance that you require and that will give the minimum depth to anchor in right now. Before you choose you must have a really good look at the weather for the period you intend to stay, it’s a serious increase in wind speed or change of wind direction that can catch you out, settled weather is what you want.
Now get anchored, normally one lets out 4 x the depth of water when anchoring, for an overnight I also really make sure its bitten in by pulling it up tight by going astern, unless its really calm I now just let out a bit more chain to make it 5 x depth, it just lets you sleep that bit easier. Now choose some transits, they allow you to monitor what’s happening so you can check you are not dragging.
Just two points to consider – swinging room and your neighbours, obvious really, but try not to anchor too close to anybody else which is not easy in a busy anchorage. Now raise the anchor ball by day, put your anchor light on for overnight and use your anchor alarm on the plotter or even your iPad to be alerted early to any drift. Don’t set the circle too small as motorboats do swing a fair bit and you will swing right round in a tidal area as the tide changes, that’s not as scary as it sounds as you should all swing at the same rate!
Now just open a nice bottle and chill whilst enjoying the sunset and go back to what used to be standard practice but seems to have been forgotten in our busy marina mooring led times.