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Old 10-09-2018, 07:28 AM   #1
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Anchoring on the River Rhine

We are currently proceeding up the Rhine around km 660, and anchoring conditions are trickier than anticipated. The water level is exceptionally low, so all the protected inlets where small craft might find respite from the current are dried out, as are the spaces between all the protection walls that stick out into the river. To make matters worse, most marinas now have less water than our 1.5m draft, so anchoring is not just a fun learning opportunity, but ever so slightly necessary.



All anchoring attempts so far on the Rhine have been entirely unsuccesful. The low water level means that I only make it a couple of boat lengths away from the fairway before I'm in 2m of water, at which point I have about a foot and a half of underkeel clearance. The bottom is typically coarse gravel to fist sized rocks, and the slackets currents I can find are 2.5 knots. Dropping my 50kg JIS and 10-20m of 13mm chain (100 lbs / 30-60ft / 1/2") under those conditions typically results in dragging at about one knot.



So far, I have attempted to anchor just below bends on the inside, on the basis that this is where I find the slowest currents and the flattest bottoms with the finest particles. Still, this means less than ideal conditions. I have noticed that most "liegstelle" (literally resting places) are on the outside of the meanders rather than the slower flowing insides, and theorize that this is because the big guys (ships >400ft) like to tie off to bollards and kedge off with their bow anchors, in which situation the steeper bank actually works to their advantage. Still, I'm very unsure about my theory, and would love a good source on river anchorage theory.


All my searching has yielded so far is geared towards anglers with small craft, and doesn't really apply to me. I met an old river boat captain yesterday (knocked and asked if I could moor alongside for the night as I was getting tired and desperate). He did some rough calculation based on my boat's underwater dimensions (1.5m draft x 3.75m beam) and told me I should be using a 120kg anchor (!) for the Rhine. I have noticed that the barges use anchors with roughly similar shapes to my JIS, but with wider "arrowheads".


Thoughts? Recommendations? Further reading? I'm not quite at my bitter end (heh) but getting there.
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Old 10-09-2018, 09:30 AM   #2
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Can you let out more scope? 10-20 m of chain in 3 m water depths plus maybe 1.5 m up to the bow roller means 2-4:1 ratio. I would try 6:1 and see how it holds.


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Old 10-09-2018, 11:59 AM   #3
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I agree. Adding additional rode should reduce increase the holding power of the anchor. If there is concern about drifting out into the fairway perhaps a stern anchor set toward shore could help.

It sounds like the anchor could be dragging in the gravel bed. Perhaps an anchor with large flutes could also help.
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:38 PM   #4
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OK, thanks for the tip. Fear of swinging, either into the fairway or onto the beach, is what has kept the scope down so far. I'll give it a shot (or three) if I find a suitable location.


Today's attempt was a total failure, as I grounded before making it anywhere near a usable spot. We ended up tied off at a catholic girl's school island and got chased by nuns. This river anchorage business urgently needs solving.
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Old 10-09-2018, 05:29 PM   #5
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We spent that last two weeks on a cruise boat on the Rhine, except had to turn back because the water was so low. Ended up going up the Mossel which has levels controlled by locks.


What air draft do you have? It looked like the bridges were 9.1m (or more). And what special license is required, if any?


Sorry I can't help with the anchoring.
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Old 10-09-2018, 06:19 PM   #6
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Not knowing of the anchor the OP identified I searched and found this:

JIS Stockless Anchor - Pros Marine
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Old 10-09-2018, 09:03 PM   #7
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OK, thanks for the tip. Fear of swinging, either into the fairway or onto the beach, is what has kept the scope down so far. I'll give it a shot (or three) if I find a suitable location.


Today's attempt was a total failure, as I grounded before making it anywhere near a usable spot. We ended up tied off at a catholic girl's school island and got chased by nuns. This river anchorage business urgently needs solving.
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the big guys (ships >400ft) like to tie off to bollards and kedge off with their bow anchors
I'm guessing, never anchored on the Rhine. You might need to tie off wherever you can like the big guys and kedge to keep from swinging. I'm not saying to use the commercial docks. Here we tie off pilings, trees or anything we can. Use the dinghy to tie off when needed.

At least the river currents will be more consistent than tidal areas. Assuming you are out of the tidal areas.

BTW, money talks, even with nuns.

I would like to hear more about your trip and see pictures. Might want to try it myself.
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Old 10-10-2018, 04:50 AM   #8
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Hi,

when you're anchored, do you drop the length of the chain all the time you are thinking about, or do you let the boat go and slowly lower your planned length?

What's your anchor brand and your boat's mass?

I was reading an interest in the German forum about anchoring Rhine and many had problems because the Rhine River is a base of hard gravel and many anchors can not dig. The anchor should have a sharp anchor danfort type or heavy patent anchor, some think the idea of ​​anchoring the Rhine was impossible ...

I think, maybe Delta works... Bottom types: Designed for a wide variety of bottom conditions (sand, pebble, rock, gravel, kelp, coral)

And it also works in my opinion as an excellent addition to clay bottom

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Old 10-11-2018, 12:36 AM   #9
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River anchoring is always a tricky issue for a multitude of reasons and if you look at local habits you will see most commercial river pilots use mooring facilities or push up to a bank, grounding the bow and tie off to a tree or similar. I can see why you wouldn’t want to do that on a rocky or gravel bottom, especially on a falling river gauge.
Never anchored on the Rhine above the commercial seaports but have anchored in many many rivers around the world with commercial ships. Always used two bower anchors. For the most part it’s rare to swing much on a river so risk of entanglement is low (except in very low current, which might be your case). Drop the anchor closest to the bank first then work your way to the channel while letting out rode. After you drop 2nd anchor, pull in on bank side anchor rode while letting out 2nd rode until you have equal length approximately. Should work ok.

Hope you have a No 2 anchor? Stream (stern anchor) is pretty much useless in your situation.
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Old 10-12-2018, 02:47 PM   #10
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Kedging off a tree or bollard with iffy holding is absolutely out of the question. I'd end up pulled onto the bank by my own mooring line when the anchor gives, and 3 knots of current is absolutely no joke. On a falling gauge, I'd be well and proper done for.


That's some very useful advice there, McGillicuddy. I actually had a second 50 kg JIS on board, but gave it away to save the weight. I would have kept it if I had the provision for pulling two chains, but getting my windlass to accept standard chain on one side has been a long and crooked story, so it's not going to happen anytime soon. The plan was to buy a second anchor on the way when it got needed, and go for something semi-managable around 20 kg which could be handled with the dinghy, with a rope rode that would fit the drum on my windlass. However, seeing how my 50kg JIS is badly underweight for holding my boat in the prevailing conditions, I see no point acquiring such an anchor now.


We went up the Mosel to get out of the relentless Rhine current, and have spent two nights happily tied off to a pontoon. Tonight we decided to experiment with anchoring, since the river is so mild and there are no forecast winds. We asked around for a nice spot and got directed to the upstream side of the Autobahn bridge at Km 13, where the supposed sandy bottom turned out to be riffraff. We have two hundred foot lines to trees on the shore, and are kedged off from the bow with a foot of underkeel clearance. All is well until a ship turns up, at which point we get pushed around pretty bad, and the anchor does not seem to be holding. We've let out a bit more line, and will see how that does. If we touch bottom again when the next one turns up (in around an hour according to AIS), we'll have to call this one a fail and head back to Koblenz in the dark.
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Old 10-12-2018, 05:27 PM   #11
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Henning,
I’d be thinking about going boating eslewhere but I assume you’re there because you want to with a bigger than average want.

Sounds like a good place for a SARCA or Manson Supreme anchor. Both hold well at short scope and are reported to work well in a wide range on bottoms. If you set a Supreme hard very short scopes can be used. And the SARCA excells in comming up with very little mud. They are excellent for reversals and good for short scope too.

See the Trawler Forum thread “Anchor Setting Vidios”

I have a soft spot for stockless anchors but all indications are that they lack the holding power of newer anchors.

On the river that you describe anchoring fore and aft should be golden as it keeps your boat parallel to the current. But the price to pay is probably beam side wakes rolling your boat at night. Some rivers are bad for wakes and others are not.
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Old 10-13-2018, 07:18 AM   #12
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Here on the Mosel the problem is ship's wakes. It's not so much a question of the waves they leave behind, because they move at a relatively small fraction of hull speed. However, the water that rushes to fill the void behind a ship sets up a surprisingly strong current, in tight waters seemingly close to the speed of the vessel itself. We were seemingly OK last night, and had a couple of 300' cruise boats pass by without issue, but then a 400' tanker came by at 2:20 in the morning. I woke up from the sound of the anchor dragging rapidly (with an all chain rode, a hawse pipe next to your bunk and a rocky bottom, that's not a quiet process), then the crunch of our keel settling into the riffraff. While far from endangering the vessel, that's a sound that'll kick me right out of my bunk, any time, and we went down to a snug little marina in Winnigen.

The current project is to make our way down the Danube to the Black Sea, which doesn't leave us a lot of options. I could of course give up on the whole free flowing rivers thing and descend to the Med by way of the French canal system, but I'm not *quite* at that stage yet.
We have a harbor planned at Lorelei and another at Bingen before we enter the canalized Main, so the need to figure this out is not quite so urgent any more. Still, we will be doing 2.500 km of Danube where pontoons are reportedly few and far between, so we must figure something out to retain a level of freedom to explore.
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Old 10-13-2018, 08:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
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...Sounds like a good place for a SARCA or Manson Supreme anchor. Both hold well at short scope and are reported to work well in a wide range on bottoms. If you set a Supreme hard very short scopes can be used. And the SARCA excels in coming up with very little mud. They are excellent for reversals and good for short scope too...
Good advice from Eric. Your anchor is an older design, no doubt it has its good points but it is clearly not doing its job in your conditions.
Advocating for one or other anchor gets controversy,but there have been advances in design. The SARCA for example (Sand and Reef Combination Anchor) would likely give better holding in the gravel you encounter. I`m biased, it`s Australian designed and made, I have one, I like it, it serves well in a variety of bottoms and withstands reversals. You can search Sarca`s website and ask them about availability. Same goes for other similar anchors which may be more readily available. The SV Panope anchor tests on TF support what Eric and I have said.

You owe it to yourself to try something different before effectively abandoning your planned cruise itinerary. I`ve only briefly been on or beside the rivers you are using, but they are beautiful large rivers I`d love to cruise.
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Old 10-14-2018, 01:18 PM   #14
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Have you considered using a deep anchor bridle to lower the angle on the anchor? Say 8-10 feet below the waterline. And then let out additional chain to put some weight behind the bridle attachment (similar to what a kellet would do).

The upper Danube in Austria/Germany is known for current and gravel. Should be no problem further down stream. Are you going all the way to the Black Sea?
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Old 10-14-2018, 06:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Here on the Mosel the problem is ship's wakes. It's not so much a question of the waves they leave behind, because they move at a relatively small fraction of hull speed. However, the water that rushes to fill the void behind a ship sets up a surprisingly strong current, in tight waters seemingly close to the speed of the vessel itself. We were seemingly OK last night, and had a couple of 300' cruise boats pass by without issue, but then a 400' tanker came by at 2:20 in the morning. I woke up from the sound of the anchor dragging rapidly (with an all chain rode, a hawse pipe next to your bunk and a rocky bottom, that's not a quiet process), then the crunch of our keel settling into the riffraff. While far from endangering the vessel, that's a sound that'll kick me right out of my bunk, any time, and we went down to a snug little marina in Winnigen.

The current project is to make our way down the Danube to the Black Sea, which doesn't leave us a lot of options. I could of course give up on the whole free flowing rivers thing and descend to the Med by way of the French canal system, but I'm not *quite* at that stage yet.
We have a harbor planned at Lorelei and another at Bingen before we enter the canalized Main, so the need to figure this out is not quite so urgent any more. Still, we will be doing 2.500 km of Danube where pontoons are reportedly few and far between, so we must figure something out to retain a level of freedom to explore.
Sorry for your mooring problems, but jealous that you’ll be docking (I assume) at Saint Goar, just below die Lorelei, one of our favorite spots in Germany. I recall maybe 6 years ago a large barge grounded on the inside of the turn at die Lorelei and disrupted river traffic for several weeks while the difficult removal was effected. If you’re there for a couple of days, I highly recommend the breakfast buffet (or anything else) at Burg Rheinfels. There’s a Zug to take you up the hill to the castle. Get a window seat for a spectacular river view. Viel Spaß.
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Old 10-19-2018, 02:03 PM   #16
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That river has more tricks and that's the reason you need to have a special "rhine patent" . Without that, in case of control or an accident, the officialdom comes to ruin your day, week and month. To get that Rhine patent it takes classes, time, effort and motivation to do so just for the one river. I don't know from wich specs, length, HP this is required.
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Old 10-19-2018, 02:31 PM   #17
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I know you are not going to like to hear this, but you really need to get an anchor with a much bigger fluke size. Up until now, you have primarily been relying on the weight of your JIS anchor to hold the boat, but now you actually need holding power, and the more the better! A huge plow type or Rocna would certainly improve your chances of holding in those terrible bottoms.
I also would be tempted to try to find deeper water on the outside bend of the curves and trying to tie up directly to the wall/bank. This may require using fenders or tires as fenders, and not having actually been up that river, the passing boat wakes may make this idea impossible.
Coming down the Mississippi one year on an 80 footer, I tied to beached (parked) barges several times. But, bottom line, you may just have to turn around and wait for a better year and/or a different anchoring system.
Good luck.
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Old 10-20-2018, 12:35 AM   #18
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Having just returned recently from completing one of those river cruises, in our case Amsterdam to Budapest on Uniworld's River Duchess, I can confirm it is a great way to see the country, and extremely relaxing, but at present, because of such a long hot and dry European Summer, the water levels are down from usual.

We had to actually be transferred by coach from Passau, to below the most shallow area, spending a night on their flagship, the Maria Theresa at Vienna, and one more at the Sheraton in Bratislava, before our ship was able, with the help of rain, and lower draft thanks to all of us and our baggage off it, to catch up with us, so we could rejoin the boat and complete the trip from Bratislava to Budapest in our ship.

It struck me at the time that doing it in your own boat would be fun, but would need the right gear, considerable planning and research, and that the Super Sarca anchor I had on my past boat would probably have done the business, insofar as any anchor could. Even so, often tying to a stout tree as well, with a loop of quickly released rope might be best, especially if one could get into the deeper water on the outside of a bend, and close to a tree-lined bank. However, there is also the issue of constantly passing large vessels.

The cruise boats berth at special pontoons, booked years in advance. Not something the private boater can do. All the best Henning. In the end it will be worth it, even if you end up with a few extra grey hairs.
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Old 10-20-2018, 02:35 AM   #19
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Goodmorning from Turkey. This is my first post on this forum so bear with me. We are Dutch and cruising a Selene 53 for years in Europe (from North Cape to Med and England to Turkey). We did sail Mr.Bean2 (that's her name) last year from Holland to the Black Sea up the Rhine, Main, MDK and down the Danube. To clarify you only need a Rhine patent above 15m length. On the other hand the Germans have little sense of humor when it concerns not adhering to the rules.

I think you're very very brave to go for anchoring in the Rhine at low water (I mean without the possibilities of side arms etc.). And to be frank I use the word brave to not get kicked off this forum after my first post :-) You basically don't do that if you value your boat and lives. This is not just some river. This is the busiest, more or less free flowing river in the world (especially the stretch below Rudesheim). Did I already say: Don't do this.
Also forget about all the scientific anchor crap. When anchored in a nice bay the worst that can happen is ending up on the shore...Here it is the BEST that can happen...chances are much larger you will be run over by some 10000 tons 6 barge pushing combination that will not even notice you were under them.
As for people planning on the Danube to Black Sea: it becomes boring but Don't do this end of summer/fall with anything drawing more than a cano. You most probably will end up being grounded or stuck.
So much for the optimistic Dutch :-)
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Old 10-20-2018, 04:44 AM   #20
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I fully support Andre Huizing's take on this subject.
What's the busiest motorway you know of ?
Then think of the river Rhine as its marine equivalent.
Look at my blog 'Windmills and wine' for photo's.
I don't mean to be offensive but to anchor on the Rhine ? You need your head looked at.
There are marina's at day cruising distances apart so why put your self in harms way, its just mental masturbation.
Likewise as you've heard from Henning what seems nice and tranquil can give you a rude awakening. The Mosel is very short on pleasure moorings for cruisers but I still wouldn't even consider anchoring on it.

Do your research, think safety first and absolutely don't compromise your boat and crew.
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