Anchoring your boat is an important skill to master and should be practiced until you are confident you can do it well. It is not usually difficult so don't make yourself nervous needlessly. Let's divide anchoring into (3) categories.
1. The Lunch hook 2. The Overnight hook 3. The Storm hook
The lunch hook is pretty obviously for short stops such as lunch or a rest where crew members can easily watch to make sure your boat is secure and not dragging toward a problem. An anchor line scope of 1:5 should be fine in a nice day, fairly calm water situation. I don't think a lot of boaters would be stopping for lunch in weather that was foul anyway, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
Scope will be discussed a little later in this article - hang in there
The overnight hook is for anchoring overnight. Does that sound redundant? The anchor line scope for a good nights sleep is shown above as 1:7 to 1:10. Here's what I find interesting about the difference between the two numbers. If you check out the old literature, it always says 1:10 whenever possible. In current literature, the 1:7 figure shows up more and more. Arguably, if you are a boater who never skimps on quality and is experienced in proper anchoring procedure, 1:7 might be fine because technology improves all around us on a daily basis. On the other hand, if both above factors are true, just think of the 30% safety advantage you have, using the 1:10 scope. The final decision is always yours.
The storm hook is the anchor you never want to use. I'm guessing that even if the experience turns into a great story, most of us would rather make the story up rather than have the experience. Scope of at least 1:10 is necessary and 1:14 is warranted. The best situation for the recreational boater is not to be caught in a storm period. It happens regardless and the responsible boater is ready.
Scope is the length of line in feet relative to the depth of the water in feet where your boat is anchored. So if your boat is anchored in 25 feet of water, you should have 250 feet of the proper line for 1:10 scope. This puts the angle of the line at about 45 degrees and gives you nice firm holding power as long as the anchor is set properly.
There are three parts to a respectable anchoring set up - The anchor - Anchor chain - Anchor line. The purpose of this article is not to specify sizes or types of anchors, chains or line, but rather to let you know what makes a good, strong set up. A quality anchor should be the right type for the bottom ( a mud bottom needs an anchor that will bury itself and hold in mud ) and be the right size for the job. At least six to eight feet, more is better, of quality anchor chain should be shackled to the anchor. The purpose of the chain is to help hold the anchor down and grab the bottom as well as avoid abrasion on the anchor line, since the line won't be tugged on the bottom if there is a nice length of chain doing the job for it. The line should be secured to the chain preferably by a professional splice. This is the strongest way to secure the line to the chain. If a knot is used, it should be an anchor bowline, but remember knots can reduce rope strength up to 50 %. A swivel between the chain and the line never hurts, ( tangles are a burden ) but tend not to occur unless rough water is an issue.
There is really only one thing to say about the type of line to use for anchoring - The best NYLON line you can find. All nylon is not created equal. Get the best marine quality nylon out there. Nylon has at least two great features. It is very strong and it is elastic. 3 strand nylon is my favorite because it will give before it breaks. The best 3 strand nylon will elongate 20 to 25 percent before it finally breaks. It is great in terms of resisting abrasion as well. Double braid nylon is a little stronger, it does have a smoother feel, but it elongates only about 15 percent. This is where you get to make a decision. That's why both types are made.
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