Have you ever anchored your boat and gone to sleep, only to discover that you’ve drifted perilously close to another boat by the morning? Whether you’re a new boater or a seasoned pro, a refresher in anchoring etiquette never hurts. Consider this your master class.
Watch Your Wake
“Start by coming in slow,” says Charles Fort, associate editor of BoatUS Magazine. “You don’t want to create a wake that’s going to bother your neighbors. Plus, you might not see people swimming or even smaller boats.”
Fort recommends circling the area where you’re planning to anchor to get a sense of where the other boats are and how they’re hanging, to identify the shallow and deep areas, and to find the best spot for mooring in relation to nearby vessels.
Follow The Leader
“The general rule is the first boat there is the one who sets the precedent,” says Fort. This means being respectful of boats parked first, anchoring based on what kind of space they’re going to need, and allowing for their swing room. Drop your anchor so it won’t interfere with those of other boats; it’s a drag having to untangle lines before you can head out.
Be conscious of your boat’s space; you’ll want enough room, even if the wind or current changes. A handy trick from Fort: Reverse with the prevailing wind once you’ve dropped your anchor. “That way when you’re backing down your anchor, you’re stretching it out about as far as it’s going to get,” he says. This will also make sure your anchor is holding, something you should verify before you leave your boat.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask
Odds are other boaters would rather come to your aid than have you jeopardize their vessel. When you’re coming into an anchorage, feel free to ask your neighbors how much line they have out or if they’re OK with where your boat is stationed.
Have The Right Tools
Not every bottom is the same, so you’ll need to make sure you have the proper anchor for your boat and the conditions. Nearly anything will hold in a muddy anchorage like the Chesapeake Bay, says Fort, but sandy and rocky bottoms might require different equipment. Making sure you have the proper anchor will help you be certain of the holding.
Keep It Down
“A lot of new boaters don’t realize that sounds carry a lot more on water than they do on shore,” says Fort. “Even when you’re talking on the phone, others can hear what you’re saying.” Be kind to your neighbors: Switch your phone to vibrate, don’t blast the radio and don’t leave your generator running into the night. “If you’re in a crowded spot, you’ll have to be aware of what you’re doing and be respectful,” he advises.
Finally, never forget that “anchoring is a whole lot of fun,” says Fort. “It’s a nice break. You’re surrounded by a bunch of like-minded people and you can stop what you’re doing and not have to pay attention for a while once your anchor is set.”
Of course, should something go astray, you could rest easy with a boat insurance policy from GEICO.
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By Nicole Price Fasig