Alone Like a Rolling Stone

Anchor or rather marina?

Anchoring is always the subject of controversial discussions in the various social media networks. Many prefer to go to a marina before anchoring for the night. The route planning is designed so that the next port can be reached safely. This of course works without problems - at least in Europe - but deprives one of the opportunity to stay at beautiful places and experience magnificent sunsets. Once you have left Europe, it becomes more difficult to find a suitable port. At the latest then, one must deal with the anchoring. To anticipate, anchoring is not witchcraft and in the meantime we prefer to lie at anchor than in a marina.

Anchored in lonely bay

With the discussion in the net, which anchor is the best, I must always smile a little. We have an old CQR anchor with 45 lbs, that is 21kg. The old ploughshare anchor is now no longer considered a top anchor. Has it ever been considered a top anchor? Rocna and Co. have long since replaced it. Nevertheless, we have never had any problems with anchoring. Of course, the anchor has also slipped on us at one time or another, but, as with driving a car, parking, with practice, a feeling sets in that tells you whether it will hold or not. 

Fantastic sunsets in an anchorage bay

With this feeling we lay already in bays with wind conditions over 60 knots in the gust. Of course, such conditions are far from the romantic sundowner in a bay, but what I want to say is that the holding behavior at anchor is far underestimated. Moreover, holding at anchor is not solely dependent on the anchor. As our case shows, it even plays a subordinate role. As it is in life, several factors come into consideration here. The most important are: Type of anchoring ground, chain length, water depth and of course the anchor, especially its weight. When anchoring, we try to anchor on sand or silt. We avoid sea grass or anchor bays interspersed with rocks. At Poseidon Gras we look for bright spots in the bay and drop our anchor there. It might be necessary to change the bay if there is not enough space. That many do not do this, we have painfully felt in the Mediterranean Sea, when a yacht rammed us and left us sitting on the damage. The fact that the anchor can dig itself in well is crucial for the hold and a good sleep. Another decisive factor is the length of the chain. The motto "more helps more" applies here. Of course, you can also approach the subject scientifically and calculate the chain length. There are plenty of instructions for this on the Internet. Sönke Roever has published a very useful guide on his site But hand on heart, who starts to calculate at 20 knots of wind in a bay, how many meters of chain he must let out at nine meters water depth? We let out 40 meters of chain, and by the time the anchor is set, it's 45 meters. Once the anchor is set, it has to be brought in properly. At 20 knots we don't even need to go backwards, the wind drift does that all by itself. I set the anchor position on the plotter and then reverse again while Gaby watches the anchor chain. If it comes up, everything is usually fine. The longer the chain is on the ground, the less likely it is that the anchor will break loose. According to our experience, 20 meters is ideal. It is important to make sure that there is nothing lying around in the way. Rocks or corals, any concrete blocks from torn off moor rings or otherwise the same, are to be avoided in any case. In Porto Santo we have once such a concrete block with including rusted stick anchor up. 

Anchor field plot

We watch the ship's movement on the plotter and after an hour I look at the position of the anchor with my diving goggles. If the swing radius is too large due to space or other anchors, we deploy a stern anchor. If you are still not sure, you can help yourself with a little helper, such as an anchor app, which you can run overnight and which wakes up even deep-sleeping sea dogs with its alarm. For our mooring ropes, which we also use as a bridle, is anchoring much smoother. We have ruined exclusively in the marinas where we have moored.
Quite apart from the fact that in the marinas one also always catches up with unpleasant guests, the crawling guild, which we prefer to do without. Although we are largely self-sufficient, we do not always get around a marina stay and certainly the marina with all its amenities also has its advantages, but of course also its price. 

In the Marina Santa Marta

We also prefer to go to the marina for bulk purchases and load the groceries from the dock into the boat, rather than bringing them to the boat with the dinghy. Nevertheless, we conclude that we prefer anchoring to mooring in a marina. In this sense we wish you always fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.