I spent my youth fishing Northern Michigan’s inland lakes for pan fish and bass. We had an old 12 foot wooden boat with “oakum” shoved in the cracks to minimize leaks and a unique anchor. We made our anchor by filling one gallon paint can with ready mix and tying a 10 ft. line to the wire handle.
On the small and rarely used lakes where we fished, this sufficed to hold us in place. Unfortunately, some recreational boaters still think an anchor is a weight to hold the boat in place. Poorly rigged anchors, insufficient rode (line) and lack of a proper anchor set have caused many a boat to drift. This can be annoying to nearby boaters and down right dangerous if your boat is disabled.
While there are a variety of anchor designs available, each suited to different bottom conditions; most recreational boaters carry a “Danforth®” type anchor. This anchor has two pointed flukes and a straight center shaft. It allows the flukes to dig into a soft bottom when the rode is attached to the center shaft. A straight pull upwards will cause the anchor to loose its bite into the bottom, but as you create a greater horizontal distance between your boat and the anchor on the bottom, that bite will become stronger and more secure.
Normal seas require an anchor line at least seven times the distance from your boat’s deck to the bottom. Rough seas may require a rode as long as ten times the water depth. The majority of recreational boaters carry only 100 ft. of anchor line so they can only hold anchor in water 15 feet or less. If the rode is insufficient, the result can be annoying drift as well as the whims of tide, winds and currents in the event of loss of power.
A proper anchor should be rigged with a 4 to 6 foot length of chain (depending on boat length), and attached with swivel connections between your anchor line and anchor. The weight of the chain will reduce the upward lift on the anchor by absorbing mild bobbing of the bow.
The anchor should be set by lowering it straight down into the water (throwing it can tangle line and chain) and slowly powering in reverse until you feel the resistance from the flukes biting into the bottom. Remember to lower your anchor a distance from your desired ultimate boat position to allow for the anchor set and length of rode. To retrieve an anchor, simply power slowly directly over the anchor and lift upwards. A stubborn anchor can be freed by hauling in all slack and purposely bobbing the bow.
To learn more about boating, contact the United States Power Squadrons or your local squadron www.usps.org and look for an ABC Boating Course or an upcoming Anchoring Seminar.
As the Power Squadron members say, “We Are America’s Boating Club™”!
Contributed by Lt. Bill Hempel, Senior Feature Writer, Marketing/Public relations Committee, United States Power Squadrons®