AnchoringDropping the anchor in a quiet cala is one of the delights of Mediterranean charter. The noonday sun warms your back as you eat lunch, snorkel and take a quick forty winks before another afternoon's sailing. For UK sailors unaccustomed to anchoring, it can be a little daunting at first, so here are a few handy tips.
- Spend some time quietly drifting around the anchorage to look for hazards. You are on holiday so why are you in such a hurry? Gauge which way the wind is blowing, and see how any other boats in the anchorage are lying to the wind
- If you have a spare crew member, station them in the bows, or amidships. Ask them to look out for rocks, as well as looking for sandy patches which are likely to provide the best holding.
- When you have picked the spot where you hope to anchor, motor up to the spot slowly with your head to wind. Ideally, you have come to a complete stop at the spot where you hope the anchor to stay. Lower the anchor and then either let the wind push you backwards or give a short burst of astern.
- Lay out approximately 3x the depth of water in anchor chain (more if you are using rope). With hardly any tides to worry about, swinging too widely is as much of a hazard as dragging.
- Once the anchor has held, you can try a short burst of hard astern to dig it in. I typically then sit in the cockpit for a couple of minutes checking that the boat has not moved before turning the engine off.
- If you're looking for excuse for a swim, grab a mask and snorkel and go over the side to "check the anchor" while the crew prepare lunch.
When leaving the anchorage, it is preferable to motor the yacht gently towards the anchor (station a crew member towards the bow to point towards the anchor to help the helmsman if you have any crew spare) rather than using the anchor windlass to pull the boat towards the anchor. This is mainly to preserve electrical power: a high-powered windlass can drain a yacht battery completely flat in under 30 seconds and that would leave a charter crew with no instruments, no lighting and no cold beer. (It's also good seamanship, but I reckon that's a secondary consideration.)