Your Beginner’s Guide to Docking & Anchoring

Your Beginner’s Guide to Docking & Anchoring

Posted by admin on 31st May 2019

All too often, we see boating novices attempting to dock and anchor without understanding some of the basic rules. This can lead to damage of their own - or someone else’s - vessel which could be avoided through the understanding of the correct principles and better choices in equipment.

This quick guide covers the basics. Get these down-pat and you’ll be docking and anchoring with confidence.

Anchor selection

You should choose your anchor based on the seafloor, rather than the boat. If the bottom you anchor on tends to vary, opt for plow or claw style anchors, as these offer the most versatility and make a good beginner’s choice. However, you might find them difficult to stow if your boat doesn’t have a bow roller.

The actual size of the anchor should be based on the length and above-water profile of your boat.

Choosing the right material for dock lines

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of materials on offer when it comes to dock lines. To keep things simple, stick to nylon dock lines when you just need to tie your boat to a dock or pier.

Its strength, elasticity and ability to withstand sun make nylon a clear winner for most scenarios. These key features make nylon dock lines unlikely to break and long-lasting. It’s also really affordable and a good choice for beginners and experts alike.

Setting the anchor

Drop the anchor correctly and you’ll drop that niggling anxiety while you try to sleep. Following these steps should help you get it right:

  1. Choose your spot carefully. The best location has shelter, a good holding bottom and few obstructions or nearby vessels. Give a wide berth because other docked boats might have a different swinging scope compared to yours.
  2. Take your time when approaching. Approach slowly and switch to reverse when you’re over the right spot. Lower the anchor once your vessel gathers sternway and slowly pay out the rode. When lowering, use enough power to ensure your boat will hold in a blow, but avoid using excessive power which can cause damage. You can determine the right amount by the boat, propellor, engine and a few other factors.
  3. Consider setting an additional anchor. Though one anchor is usually enough, you might find two work better if winds are strong and holding is poor. Observe what boats around you have done, because if they used one anchor and you use two, they’ll swing in a wider circle and could collide with your boat.

Invest in an anchor windlass

Give your back a break and use a windlass to assist when hauling in an anchor. Particularly if you have to drag an anchor in a storm, a windlass will allow you to do that more quickly and keep you in better control of your boat.

Choose between a manual and electrical windlass; either way, it will make anchor retrieval much easier as well as safer.

If you’re based in or near Geelong, why not visit us at our store to browse our sailing products and meet the team? Otherwise, feel free to contact us with any enquiries and we’d be happy to help.