They say you can’t judge a book by its cover.  I say the same for anchorages:  “You can’t judge an anchorage by its looks.”  If you find the book’s not for you after 20 pages, you can open another one or turn on the TV or just go to bed and forget books.  But it’s not so simple when that lovely, calm and inviting spot where you anchored turns nasty in the middle of the night.  You can’t just turn off the howling wind that piped up so suddenly nor can you expect the waves tossing you around hoping to snap the rode and fittings right off the boat to lie down and be still just because you yell at them.

Our lake has so many beautiful places to visit but you may be surprised to learn how some of our very favourites are actually trouble waiting to happen.  I’ll tell you about some of my experiences with good lookers turning ugly but first, some pearls of .... well, you be the judge:

  1. Bulletbe grateful for the good holding on our lake bottom.  Mostly mud and clay,  rarely rocks and seldom weeds, good holding is so dependable it’s easy to take it for granted and become a bit careless when anchoring, as I have done from time to time – and paid the price.  Believe me, you don’t want to know what it feels like to drag, lose anchors and chain and bump into things in the dark.   So please: keep your record clean, practice safe anchoring:

  1. Bulleta decent distance from shore and from other boats, please.  It takes practice to correctly estimate where your boat will end up after you toss the anchor over, so learn to place your boat far enough from shore and shallows to give you time and distance to get away before grounding should the anchor drag.  Too close and you’ve got no time to deal with it.  And after your boat has drifted to the end of her rode and you put her in reverse to set the anchor, she should lie at least three or four boat lengths away from the nearest other boat.  Not always easy to achieve, especially in popular and tight places like Romance Harbour, Hole in the Wall, Beaver Fever or the club’s mooring field

  1. Bulletgood scope is a sine qua non of tenacity and muscle tone, until you reach the age when an electric windlass gets you a discount on your health insurance.  Scope is the ratio of rode to water depth, rode being what connects your anchor to the boat — chain, line, whatever.  Five to one is good scope for us on the lake and anywhere else.  Anchor in 15’ of water, put out 75’ of rode, and so on.  And make sure you measure from the water down, not from your cleat on the boat, otherwise you may be too short!  Having said that, a scope of three to one is usually adequate in shallower waters (15-20’) and calm conditions.  But don’t go less than 3:1, the reason having to do with the changing angle of the catenary.  Divide that angle by the square root of the GST paid for your anchor and you’ll clearly see why it will drag more at less than the recommended ratios.  (Me, I think the role played by catenary is negligible in other than deep deep waters ....)

  1. BulletHOWEVER, here’s the exception to the 3:1 or 5:1 scope rule: in strong winds and big waves, put out more rode, and keep it going out as the wind and waves increase.  In general, the longer the better, although it may actually not make too much difference after around 8:1.  In a real nasty (40+ knots ?) you can set a second anchor, turn the motor on to ease the strain on your tackle, or even send down a kellet (Google it), probably more for something to do than for any significant benefit (at best, a kellet might reduce your swing radius in shallow water and light winds).  All this has to do with keeping your anchor’s shank as low and level as possible and minimizing the upward lift exerted on it as the boat tugs at its leash,  trying to rip it out

  1. Bulletcarry at least one spare anchor with its own shackles and rode.  Of course all your anchors and tackle are oversized correctly for your boat.  Know about the different conditions and ways in which you might set two anchors at the same time.  Practice doing it.  And have chafe guards for your rode anywhere it rubs the boat and, especially for chain, use a bridle and snubber to ease the tension and prevent the damage a chain can do.  And of course you’ll never leave it to  your windlass to hold the rode (I guess it wasn’t your boat I saw doing this in June of 2012),  you’ll always hold it with a cleat

  1. Bulletbecause our mud and clay bottom is rope-kindly, an all-chain rode is not necessary and makes little sense: expensive, heavy and wanting far more TLC than proper anchor line, you’ll need only a chain leader on the bottom to keep your shank down, but after that a stretchy line will do fine --- braid,  low-maintenance three-strand, woven polyester (but never that yellow polypropylene peril).  How much chain?  A boat-length’s about right  though more won’t hurt.  Add 200’ of nylon 3-strand back-spliced through the last link in your chain and off you go with plenty to spare.  Cut off the splice and reverse the line every couple years

  1. Bulletrafting is fun, proper and permissible in daytime but boats are not people and shouldn’t even think of sleeping together.  Don’t let them.  Do not raft up overnight.  Just say no

  1. Bulletthere’s more:   1) the above safe anchoring practices will help minimize worry when caught in a nasty.  You may be uncomfortable and have the living sleep scared out of you but you should be safe and ready to get the hell out of there at first light.  Or even hang in for another day (take it from me, sometimes it’s the best/only thing to do);  2) the chances of you getting caught in a GSL anchorage and being battered by wind and wave are real but small.  More often than not you’ll have some inkling that nasty weather is at hand and time to slip into somewhere safe and not far away where you can ride it out in relative comfort.  Safe anchoring is based on a simple premise: every time you anchor, anywhere you anchor, do it like it’s going to blow a gale.  An ounce of prevention here saves a lot of pounding .... but do accept that any and every anchor can give, and always be at the ready.

Sleep With Me At Your Own Risk


Since this page is far too wordy and is aimed more at the novice than at you, you might like to skip it altogether and go directly to see some anchorages in which to sleep lightly, if at all ....