Have we done something wrong? Not enough chain? too much chain? Why is the guy on the next boat glowering? Am I on top of his anchor? Will I swing into him? Doesn't he like the smell of sausages on the barbecue? Anchoring, particularly where the bay is tight with boats, is a matter of etiquette, and if you don't get it right, you may not have many friends left in the anchorage.
So here are the eight top rules of Anchoring Etiquette:
1. The first boat sets the precedent:
So, if you arrive in an anchorage and the first one there is a cabin cruiser that yaws all over the place and they have 200 feet or 60 feet of rod out in five feet of water, they have set the precedent. Any subsequent comers will need to give them room. After that, simply treat others as you would like to be treated - with respect.
2. Watch your Wake:
Entering an anchorage or a mooring area is like moving into a new neighborhood. Enter at a slow speed, less than five knots, to avoid making a wake which might upset their sundowner drinks or the bits from the winch they were servicing, or dinner preparations. This also applies to dinghies when traveling close to anchored boats - and in most countries it's the law anyway.
3. Give yourself, and other boats room:
Look at the wind in the anchorage and try to work out where the anchors of other boats are lying. Cruise through the anchorage a couple of times to assess the situation. Calling out to find out how much chain the boat has out is an indicator that you are aware of swing patterns and will attempt to place your boat so that it is not in the way of another boat. There's also some self preservation here too, as you may want to stay clear of potential party boats, or the boat with that very noisy wind generator. Remember, if he was here first, you are the one who has to move.
4. Watch the 'Magnet Effect':
A boat already anchored seems to attract the next boat to anchor right next to it, even though there is an enormous bay to anchor in. Try not to do this, and, if you were there first, it is your right to speak to a boat that arrives after you and ask them to move if you feel that they are too close.
5. Sound carries far:
Voices, music, engine noise, especially outboard motors, unmuffled go-fast boats, ski boats, jet skis, generators, barking dogs and the dreaded ringing telephone are all examples of the egregious disruption of anchorage serenity. Common sense should prevail in predicting what will not be appreciated and protecting the serenity for the common good.
6. Keep Bow to Cockpit communications civil:
According to Capts. Daria and Alex Blackwell, it's not the anchoring, or the need to re-anchor, which separates the beginners from the experts. It is the amount of yelling and chaos that breaks out between the person handling the anchor and the person steering the boat. Boating is the only sport that requires T-shirts which proclaim 'Don't yell at me!' Either develop a set of hand signals, or better still, use some inexpensive walkie talkies, so that at least your comments on the abilities of your other crew member will be kept on your boat.
7. Think of your neighbors AND the environment:
The smell of burgers on the grill might be a marvelous aroma for most, but really smelly cooking upwind of a boatload of vegetarians may be a cause for some strong sentiments. Don't go into a crowded anchorage full of pristine water and then not use the holding tank! - It's really not a good scene for swimmers in the water. And it can ruin your whole day to find yourself swimming with rotten tomatoes or floating banana skins.
8. Be careful with lights at night:
When anchored at night always have an anchor light on(black ball during the day), when looking for an anchorage don't shine a strong beam directly into another boat's cockpit, and don't be the boat that's lit up like a football field deep into the night when all else in the anchorage are trying to sleep.
Follow these simple rules and you'll retain good relations with all your neighboring boats and sailing friends.
by Nancy Knudsen