Anchoring Up - Part 1
by Gary Brown on 4 Mar 2013
The description of an anchor in the Concise Oxford Dictionary is a heavy iron, composed of a long shank with a ring at one end and two flukes at the other end. Anchoring is to secure with the aid of an anchor to stop movement of the craft.
If you have a chain attached to you reef anchor you find that you wont get the anchor back up Gary Brown
Anchors work in several different ways, which to the uneducated can be a huge problem in sorting out which anchor or anchors they need to have in their boat. If my own boat (besides safety gear) there are three critical items that I need to have so I make sure that I get the best out of my boat. They are a reef, sand and a sea anchor. Many anglers that I come across seem to think that they only need one type of anchor, but without these three different items they lack the ability to fish some of their favourite fishing grounds to their full potential. This is due to the fact that they are placing themselves at the mercy of the winds, currents and tides.
Now when purchasing an anchor for your boat there are a number of things you need to consider. The weight and length of the boat, whether it has a wind screen or not, where you are going to stow them and the depth of water you are going to fish. Nothing is worse than having a short anchor rope.
Depending on what type of anchor you have, you may find that you do not have the anchor that is suited to your type of fishing and the area that you are fishing in, as anchors work in several different ways. Some dig into the seabed, or silt, and others are heavy enough to just simply sit on the bottom. Other anchors have the ability to hold on shale or rocky bottoms, while some are just permanent fixtures on the bottom.
To keep things simple I will cover four different types of anchors. The plough, danforth, and the reef anchor. Each of them performing a different task when being used. I will also cover the sea anchor in the drifting section of this book.
The sand or plough anchor is designed for sand or muddy bottoms into which they dig deeper as the pull is increased. They are unsuitable for anchoring over reefs where there are crevices and rock ledges that can trap them and prevent their release. A length of chain (different lengths to suit different sized boats) is attached to front of the sand or plough.
Many a time I have watched other anglers just gather up the anchor and chain and just throw the lot over the side of the boat. What usually happens is the chain and part of the rope will get all caught up with the anchor causing the anchor to not hook up with the bottom. To stop this happening all you need to do is slowly lower the anchor into the water, followed by the chain and the slowly let the rope slip through your hands.
When pulling up the anchor you should pull up as much slack rope as possible, tie off to the bow and then slowly drive off over the top of the front of the anchor while making sure you keep the rope away from the motor. This will cause the anchor to twist in the sand or mud allowing it to come free.
The Danforth anchor is a burying anchor with wide sharp flukes and a stock that holds well under high loads in mud and sand, but may be difficult to set in rock, shell, grass and weed bottoms. The danforth anchor is very similar to a plough anchor and is retrieved in the same procedure as a plough anchor. The only difference is that on some models there is a sliding ring that the chain is attached to, allowing the fixed point to slide to the front or back depending on whether you are setting or retrieving the anchor.
The reef anchor has a steel pipe shaft and four steel prongs, which are designed to straighten under pressure when you are releasing it off the reef or other rough grounds. The size and weight, plus the type of area you are going to fish determine the overall weight of the reef anchor, length and diameter of the prongs. If the reef anchor is too light for the size of your boat you will have the prongs straighten out very easily even under the slightest pressure. The one that I own is a fold-away type. This makes it very easy to store in the boat.
A sea anchor (also known as a drift anchor, drift sock, para-anchor or boat brake) is a device used to stabilize a boat in heavy weather. Rather than tethering the boat to the seabed the sea anchor increases the drag through the water and thus acts as a brake. In my early boating life I use to use a plastic bucket with a small hole cut in the bottom as a sea anchor. Now I can’t be without my sea anchor as it allows me to slow down my drifting speed, especially when there is a lot of wind about.
The springer is an essential item when it comes to anchor. As you will see from the photo in this article it is just like a giant rubber band. I made this up from a length of rope, a rubber ring that is used in sewer pipes another small length of rope and a snap shackle.
When using it you need to securely tie the longer length of rope to the boat and the other end is clipped to a loop in the anchor rope. This will act as a shock absorber as the boat is moved about by the wind and the swell, while at the same time not pulling the sand anchor out of the sand or the reef anchor off the reef.
Look out for Part 2 of Anchoring Up in a couple of weeks. In this article I will give you some more techniques on how to make your anchoring more successful.
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