We all know that novice sailor who stays on anchor watch all night the first twenty times on an overnight anchorage for the simple fact that they can’t sleep. We also know the seasoned sailor who drifted on anchor while peacefully asleep, only to wake up to the sound of a crash.
Dropping anchor for a quick swim on a center console with outboard engines is a much different experience than ensuring your yacht is protected and secured for an overnight anchorage. What raises the stakes is when you are on a yacht with inboard engines—like most catamarans— and you would like to get a good night's rest during your overnight anchorage.
As sailors, we can all admit that we have felt insecure, on many occasions, about the position and location of our anchor.
For this reason, we took some time to hang out with a professional yacht captain to go through the motions of safely and securely setting our anchor. To make things fun, we did this aboard a Leopard 45.
Ten Steps to Setting Anchor
- Turn your boat into the wind. Once you have accomplished this, ensure your speed reads close to zero. If necessary, engage your engines just enough to keep your boat sitting idly in the spot that you would like to drop your anchor. Check the depth of the water and decide the scope you would like to let out. Every skipper is different so we will refrain from providing our preference. However, a wise man once said, “When in doubt, let it out.”
- Open up your anchor locker, grab your windlass remote (should you be so fortunate to have one) and lift up your safety catch.
- Use the windlass remote to lower the anchor to your preferred scope. When you are happy with that, move on to step four.
- Close your safety catch, and lock (tighten) the chain so that when the anchor chain catches, it will not put force on the windlass.
- Put your engines into reverse and allow your anchor to catch.
- Head forward to the bow and listen for sounds and movement that will indicate that your anchor is secured.
- Use your chart plotter to drop a way point and start the track to watch the movement of the boat. Wait a few minutes to ensure you are not drifting. Alternatively, you may use a handheld compass to locate three different points and record your bearings. Wait a few minutes and take your handheld compass again to get a fix on those points. If the readings are not the same, then you know you have drifted. If you did not drift, move on to step eight.
- Secure your bridle.
- Open safety catch, go up slightly with the windlass remote to release your chain, and then lower your chain down. When you let your chain down you want to have enough go down so that there is no tension on the chain, you want your bridle to be doing all of the work.
- Watch the bridle come up towards the bow of your boat.
When you have successfully completed all of these steps, you can rest easy knowing that you have securely anchored your yacht. If you would like to see these steps in action, we encourage you to press play on the video below!