There's nothing as refreshing as a good night's sleep on board a boat that's bobbing gently at anchor. But wake to the clunk of two hulls meeting, or the grind of a keel on rocks, and sweet dreams quickly turn to nightmares.
When you drop anchor, you want to make sure the boat is going to stay where you want it to; this means choosing the right location considering the swinging circle and type of bottom, properly setting the hook, and measuring out the right amount of scope. Being able to drop a second anchor, and knowing the technique, increases your options and your security. Two anchors can improve your grip on the bottom, accommodate changes in wind or current direction better, and reduce the area in which the boat swings.
<h4>The Second Anchor</h4>
Obviously, you won't be able to set two anchors if you only have one on board. Apart from being able to double up, there are a couple of other good reasons for carrying extra ground tackle. With two anchors of different designs you can choose the best one for the type of bottom; and if you have to leave a snagged anchor on the bottom, it won't be your only one.
There are a number of different methods and applications for setting two anchors. Here are two that cover a variety of situations.
<h4>The Bahamian Moor</h4>
One of the most useful methods for setting a pair of anchors is called The Bahamian Moor. Here anchors are set about 180° from each other, with the boat resting comfortably in between. Apart from the security of two anchors, the most significant advantage is a greatly reduced swinging circle: a real benefit in a crowded anchorage.
<table style="width:450px;" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"><tbody><tr><td width="50%">The technique is to drop the first anchor well to leeward of where you want the boat to finally sit while at anchor -- we'll call this the mooring target
. This anchor is dropped from the stern so there's no chance of snagging the rode as the boat motors away to windward (1). Moving to windward, line is paid out until the boat is over the mooring target with the correct scope. Then the line is made fast to a stern cleat, forward power is applied and the anchor is set.</td><td width="50%"><center>
</center></td><td width="50%">The leeward line is then uncleated and paid out as the boat continues to windward and the second hook is lowered from the bow. The boat is then backed away, line is paid out to the desired scope, made fast, and the second anchor is set (2). Again, care must be taken to keep the leeward line away from the prop, rudder and keel.</td></tr><tr><td width="50%">The leeward anchor line is now led forward and secured at the bow so the boat is free to swing by pivoting (3). It's important that the distance between the two anchors and the boat is sufficient to allow the anchor line to trail at a deep enough angle so it's clear of the keel. Having an all-chain rode helps as its weight holds it closer to the bottom.</td><td width="50%"><center>
To get underway, line is paid out from the windward anchor and taken in from the leeward so the boat can drift back over the leeward anchor. Once it's off the bottom, the boat then motors up to collect the windward anchor. As always, care must be taken to avoid fowling the lines on the underside of the boat.
The Bahamian Moor works well when the wind direction is expected to remain fairly constant or shift a full 180°, such as from an on-shore to an off-shore breeze, or when tidal current will reverse direction. It's not ideal when the wind blows 90° to the anchor lines. For these conditions, another method is better...
<h4>Two Anchors at 45°</h4>
Setting two anchors at roughly 45° off the bow is another way of reducing swing while gaining improved holding power. This method shares the load between both anchors, and provides a backup if one anchor drags. Swing is reduced because the boat can only move in the area where the swing circles of each anchor overlap.
This is a good method to use if the wind is shifty or makes significant changes in direction..
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The first hook is set in the usual way, keeping in mind that the mooring target will be somewhere between the two anchors.
When sufficient scope is paid out, the boat is again brought to windward this time to either port or starboard of the first anchor.
</center></td></tr><tr><td colspan="2">The anchor line should be kept taut to ensure the boat stays on the outer limits of its swing circle, and it's important to move slowly so the anchor isn't jerked loose. When the first line is perpendicular to the boat's centerline, the second anchor is dropped and set. Both rodes are then adjusted so the boat rides with roughly equal scope on each anchor.</td></tr><tr><td valign="bottom" width="50%"><center>
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So, when an anchorage puts you in a tight spot or provides less than desired shelter from wind or current, take this prescription for a good night's sleep: