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Date: 26 January 2014. What Not To Do (smart anchoring)


Life on the water is wonderful and it can be inexpensive, but all too often a boat that anchors long term becomes not just a hazard, but a pain to all cruisers. It does not take a lot of money to buy a boat and just living on a boat does not make you a boater any more than sleeping in a garage makes you a car. Boaters -- real ones, not the bums -- are an asset to any community they belong to or visit. Here is how not to create problems for cruisers who follow in your wake.

  1. Use a legitimate anchor light. (solar lawn lights are not anchor lights -- not even close)

  2. Keep your vessel clean and tidy. (wash your doggone boat)

  3. Follow the rules (head pump-outs, no trash in the water)

  4. It is really not necessary to "hang it all out" (wear clothes on deck)

  5. Be a good citizen. (retrieve trash that floats by and dispose of properly)

What is wrong however is a circumstance that happens all too often: A boat will be bought and is to being delivered by the new owners to their home port. Along the way something goes wrong. Time constraints require the boat to be left at a safe place along the way.


How to leave your boat:


When you absolutely must leave your vessel, there are three options:

  1. Dry storage. Hauled out at a boatyard and placed on stands.

  2. In a marina tied to a pier.

  3. At anchor.

In my opinion, the first option is the ideal solution. Your boat is safe and she will not sink. The second, at a marina, generally insures your boat will be looked at. Both of those options however cost cash.

Thus a boat will on occasion be left anchored in a protected location. If done properly this not a terrible choice. Note the "if done properly" portion of that sentence please.


We can all understand the necessity of leaving a boat in rare circumstances. What I fail to comprehend is that an owner would leave their vessel without someone trustworthy to watch their sizable investment.

You may wonder what can happen in that event...

A while back I met a gent and his son (Nameless Ones aka NO from this point forward) who were moving their newly purchased Westsail32 from Florida to Tennessee. Time-wise, there was "enough" provided all went well. Alas, that did not happen.

Now NO did the right thing in that he did not press on in iffy weather. That was smart. All too often newbies think they are bigger and stronger than Neptune. That is when Captain Murphy takes over and incredibly bad things can occur. You read about those folks in Survival books quite often.

Photo One:

Anchored, in a place with changing tides.

Using a single, albeit large, Danforth type anchor.

Photo Two:

Now the boat has dragged back from the
green star
location as shown in Photo One.


The following day the boat is snarled with the two boats that are to the left of the Red Star shown in Picture Two.

Photo Three:

Photo Four:

A couple of tide changes later the boat
freed itself and was dragging further back.
Photo Five:

After becoming free from the two sailboats in Photo Four, the drifting wonder snagged yet another boat.

Quite naturally, other boaters are less than impressed with this sort of behavior. It makes all of us look badly whereas it is actually a limited problem.

Dragging boats usually are immediately taken care of and either properly anchored or towed to a marina.


As you can see from Photo Six ↓  this is a crowded anchorage.

Nameless Ones were irresponsible and none of this should have occurred. As a matter of fact the solution was one phone call away. And yes, it has already been implemented. That phone call happened the day after the above picture was taken.

So how do you find someone to watch over your boat when you must leave her for a while? The easiest and smartest way to find the best person is to call your local TowBoatUS or SeaTow operator. Those are the fellows who tow boats for a living.

Usually the two boat rescue companies are in the "Cure" stage, solving problems. However there is one thing they also know about and that is "Prevention". They would much rather prevent an issue than have to come in afterwards and fix it. Thus, if you must leave your vessel for any length of time, no matter how brief, contact a professional and ask for advice.

Prevention is always cheaper than Curing an issue after the event.
Fixing something before a problem occurs is simply smart boating.

Most of the pros running TowBoatUS and SeaTow franchises will not be in the boat watching business, though some might be. They will however know the locals with a good reputation who can help you.

Call the professionals, not the guys anchored nearby though one may indeed be your man. If not a towing company, the local boat yards and marinas will know reliable people who can help you. Then be smart enough to take the advice offered.

Have you ever hired someone to watch your boat?
If so, I'd like to chat about your experiences. (It's for an upcoming article.)

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