The Storm Anchoring Techniques
The Storm Anchoring Techniques

Proper storm anchoring techniques are essential for ensuring the safety of your boat and family during a storm while sailing the open seas.

The Storm Anchoring Techniques

Sailing the open seas is an exhilarating and fulfilling experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the most significant challenges that sailors face is dealing with storms. Proper storm tactics and preparation are essential for ensuring the safety of your boat and your family. In this article, we will discuss storm anchoring techniques, which are crucial for keeping your boat secure during a storm.

Table of Contents

Understanding Storm Anchoring

Storm anchoring is the process of securing your boat to the seabed using an anchor and rode (the line or chain connecting the anchor to the boat) to prevent it from drifting or being pushed ashore during a storm. The primary goal of storm anchoring is to keep your boat in a safe position, minimizing the risk of damage or injury.

When selecting an anchorage, consider the following factors:

  • Protection: Choose a location that offers protection from the wind and waves. This may include natural features such as headlands, islands, or reefs, or man-made structures like breakwaters or marinas.
  • Holding Ground: The seabed should provide good holding for your anchor. Sand, mud, and clay are generally considered the best holding grounds, while rock, coral, and grass are less reliable.
  • Swing Room: Ensure there is enough space for your boat to swing around the anchor without colliding with other boats or obstacles.
  • Depth: The water should be deep enough to accommodate your boat’s draft and allow for a sufficient scope (the ratio of rode length to water depth).

Types of Anchors

There are several types of anchors available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of anchors used for storm anchoring include:

  1. CQR (Plow) Anchor: This anchor has a hinged shank and plow-shaped fluke, which allows it to dig into the seabed and provide excellent holding power. It is suitable for a variety of bottom conditions, including sand, mud, and clay.

  2. Delta Anchor: Similar to the CQR anchor, the Delta anchor has a fixed shank and a concave fluke, which provides even better holding power in soft bottoms. It is also effective in harder bottoms, such as rock and coral.

  3. Bruce (Claw) Anchor: This anchor has a three-pronged design that provides good holding power in most bottom conditions, although it may struggle in very soft mud. It is also less likely to foul on underwater obstacles.

  4. Danforth (Fluke) Anchor: This lightweight anchor has a large surface area, making it ideal for soft bottoms like sand and mud. However, it may not perform as well in harder bottoms or areas with heavy grass or seaweed.

When choosing an anchor for storm anchoring, it is essential to select one that is appropriately sized for your boat. A general rule of thumb is to use an anchor that weighs 1 pound for every foot of boat length. However, this may vary depending on the specific anchor type and the conditions in which it will be used.

Anchor Rode Selection

The anchor rode is the line or chain that connects your boat to the anchor. There are two primary types of anchor rode: chain and rope. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Chain Rode: Chain rode is heavy and durable, providing excellent abrasion resistance and helping to keep the anchor shank low to the seabed, which improves holding power. However, chain rode is more expensive and requires a windlass (a mechanical device used to raise and lower the anchor) for handling.

Rope Rode: Rope rode is lighter and more affordable than chain rode, making it easier to handle without a windlass. However, rope rode is more susceptible to chafe and abrasion, which can weaken it over time.

For storm anchoring, it is recommended to use a combination of chain and rope rode. The chain portion should be at least the length of your boat, while the rope portion should be long enough to provide the necessary scope.

Setting the Anchor

Properly setting the anchor is crucial for ensuring that it holds during a storm. Follow these steps to set your anchor:

  1. Approach the anchorage slowly, heading into the wind or current.
  2. When you reach the desired location, lower the anchor to the seabed while maintaining forward momentum. This will help the anchor dig into the bottom.
  3. Once the anchor is on the bottom, slowly reverse your boat while paying out the rode. This will help the anchor to set and bury itself in the seabed.
  4. When you have reached the desired scope, secure the rode to a cleat or anchor roller on your boat.
  5. Gently back down on the anchor using your engine to ensure that it is set and holding. If the anchor drags, repeat the process.

Scope and Chafe Protection

The scope is the ratio of rode length to water depth and is a critical factor in ensuring that your anchor holds during a storm. A general rule of thumb is to use a scope of 7:1 for storm anchoring, meaning that for every foot of water depth, you should have 7 feet of rode deployed.

Chafe protection is essential for preventing damage to your rode during a storm. Chafe can occur when the rode rubs against the boat’s bow, anchor roller, or other obstacles. To protect your rode, use chafe guards or hose sections to cover the areas where chafe is likely to occur.

Multiple Anchors

In some situations, it may be necessary to deploy multiple anchors to provide additional holding power or to prevent your boat from swinging into obstacles. There are several methods for setting multiple anchors, including:

  • Bahamian Moor: This technique involves setting two anchors in a line, with one anchor set directly upwind of the other. This can help to limit the boat’s swing and provide additional holding power.
  • V-Formation: This method involves setting two anchors at a 45-degree angle from the bow, creating a V-shape. This can help to prevent the boat from swinging side-to-side during a storm.
  • Tandem Anchoring: This technique involves attaching a second anchor to the rode of the primary anchor, effectively creating a chain of anchors. This can provide additional holding power in extreme conditions.

Storm Anchor Retrieval

After the storm has passed, it is essential to retrieve your anchor(s) carefully to avoid damage to your boat or the anchor itself. Follow these steps to retrieve your anchor:

  1. Approach the anchor slowly, heading into the wind or current.
  2. Use a windlass or manual effort to raise the anchor rode until it is vertical.
  3. If the anchor is stuck, try using your boat’s engine to gently pull it free. Be cautious not to put too much strain on the rode or anchor.
  4. Once the anchor is free, raise it to the surface and secure it to your boat.


Storm anchoring is a critical skill for sailors who want to ensure the safety of their boat and family during a storm. By selecting the appropriate anchor and rode, setting the anchor correctly, and using proper scope and chafe protection, you can significantly increase the chances of your boat remaining secure during a storm. Additionally, understanding how to deploy multiple anchors and retrieve them safely after the storm has passed is essential for successful storm anchoring.