and the 360-degree swinging room (with
rode stretched out) of all the other boats
there. If you were the first one in, congratulations, you’re king for the day. If
you arrive later, don’t anchor too close to
other boats, or in their swing radius.
It’s perfectly OK – in fact it’s preferred – to talk to your potential neighbors, whether a new boat coming in or
already anchored. If you’re gliding by
looking to anchor near a boat and the
owner is in the cockpit, compliment their
boat and ask if they’re OK with where
you plan to anchor. Ask them where
their anchor is and how much scope they
have out. Perhaps ask about the bottom.
Some are good and some are bad for
holding. Don’t be surprised (or offended)
if they’re not OK with your plan for
whatever reason. Everyone has his or
her own social limits. Plus, there may
be important issues at play: they might
have multiple anchors out; there may
be shallows or obstructions nearby; they
could have engine trouble, meaning they
may appreciate a little extra room “just in
case;” or maybe your neighbor is waiting
for another boat to raft up with them. So
just say thanks, let it go, and move on to
the next potential spot.
If there’s simply no room, DO
NOT try to squeeze in. Find another
anchorage. Conversely, if you’re already
there and you’re not comfortable with
where the new folks want to anchor, go
ahead and politely let them know why.
“Politely” is the operative word. Shouting
at a potential anchoring neighbor is as
effective (and irritating) as shouting at
Once the hook is down,
don’t just hop in the dinghy
Nothing screams newbie louder than
tossing an anchor over and leaving before
your boat has settled back with the wind
and really “set” its hook. An anchor has
to grab the bottom, dig in, and set to
really hold, which usually entails letting
out enough scope (5-to- 1 rode to depth,
measured from your anchor roller to
the bottom), backing down on it slowly
until it hooks the bottom, and then
more strongly to dig its flukes in until
it’s clear the boat will remain in place.
Even after whatever tactic you use to set
it, you should still see how it does before
Conversely, don’t put out more than
5-to- 1 scope unless it’s really needed;
otherwise you will swing over on top of
another boat if the wind should shift.
If everyone uses this same 5-to- 1 ratio,
an anchorage of boats should swing
around together if they have similar bottom and windage characteristics. Always
drop your hook behind the stern of a
neighbor’s boat, never alongside it; this
ensures that you’ll both swing in your
The wind may be nothing now, but
when that little dark cloud on the horizon starts growing and getting closer, not
only the strength, but the direction of
the wind will probably change. If you’re
ashore with a poorly set anchor, you
may be the one responsible for the slow-motion boat-sized pinball game that
ensues. Not cool, and you’re sure to create
damage to your boat and others.
Sound (and scent) carries farther
on the water
The annoying sounds of dogs bark-
ing, generators running, and TVs and
radios blaring are obvious, but water –
especially after dark – has the curious
ability to transmit even quieter sounds.
Cellphone conversations in the cockpit
(or constant ringing), loud talking, and
amorous encounters can all be heard by
a sizable part of the anchorage. Don’t be
that person who leaves your cellphone
behind to ring at all hours. If you need
loud tunes, use headphones. If you must
run a genset for your air conditioning
and icemaker, anchor near other boats
similarly equipped, as you’ll all probably
be closed up anyway; or select a time
of day for battery charging when most
folks are out and about, not cocktail
hour or quiet evening time.
Scent also carries far on the water.
Perhaps the worst
thing a boater can
do is pump the
in an anchorage.
Not only does
it smell, it’s illegal and clearly a
safety hazard for
many hours later.
Never do it. Use
In the end, boating etiquette is pretty
simple: Be a considerate neighbor and
use common sense.
Associate editor Charles Fort also leads our
BoatU.S. Consumer Protection department.
A U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain and
former cruiser, he reckons he’s anchored more
than 2,000 times.
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Before you drop anchor, check to make
sure you won’t
swing too close to