How to Set a Double Anchor

<em>Britannia</em>’s bow sprit has space for two CQR anchors on rollers (left). The main anchor is on 250 feet of chain, while the secondary anchor is rigged with a strong line at least as long as the amount of chain that will be payed out (right).

<em>Britannia</em>’s bow sprit has space for two CQR anchors on rollers (left). The main anchor is on 250 feet of chain, while the secondary anchor is rigged with a strong line at least as long as the amount of chain that will be payed out (right). (Roger Hughes/)

When I was new to sailing many years ago, it didn’t take long for me to realize that it was much better to anchor securely the first time rather than to be stumbling on deck at 0300 on a blustery, rainy, pitch-black night, trying to haul-in and then reset a dragging anchor. Anchoring is a vital part of seamanship. It’s just as important to be able to stop a boat as it is to make it move, and while different boats react differently when anchored, there are still some common tenets that apply to all anchoring situations. The main worry is always that the anchor will uproot, for whatever reason, and the boat will drag, sometimes with catastrophic results.

The best assurance to avoid dragging is to lay a good length of rode, about five or six times the anchoring depth for all-chain (the rode being the total length from the boat to the anchor). But this in itself doesn’t guarantee that an anchor won’t drag, and after hauling in 200 or so feet of chain, when dragging in 40 feet—all in the above-mentioned weather conditions—most people soon learn to do it right the first time…

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