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Boat Anchoring and Docking

Every water adventure requires the equipment to stabilize the vessel to return to shore or remain stationary among the current. From anchor types to line lengths, fenders to winches, be ready for your lake, sea, or oceanic journey as a boater. Whether you intend to anchor or dock your boat, understanding what equipment you need will prepare you for each stop in your travels.

What is the difference between anchoring and docking?

The purpose of anchoring or docking is preventing the ship from going adrift or from shifting fore (forwards) and aft (backwards.)

  • Anchoring: Lowering an anchor to the sea or ocean bed that is tethered via rope or chain affixed to the boat.
  • Docking: Also known as mooring, docking makes use of permanent structures, such as jetties, piers, anchor buoys, and docks to tether the boat with affixed ropes or chains.
What is scope?

Scope is the ratio of the anchor line, or rode, to the height of the bow above the bottom. Scopes vary based on wind and current conditions and your choice of rope or chain. A scope ratio of 10:1 would mean for every foot of water depth, there are 10 feet of rode. The size and weight of your boat and rode material will help determine a safe scope.

What are the types of boating anchors?

Flukes on anchors are pointed projections designed to dig into the sea or ocean bottom.

  • Danforth: Suitable for hard sand and mud, these are lightweight and have wide side-by-side flukes.
  • Kedge: Traditional Navy anchors suitable for heavy grass or rocky bottoms and long scopes, where one of the two flukes can penetrate the floor.
  • Grapnel: Ideal for smaller watercrafts, like dinghies or canoes, often with four or more shorter flukes.
  • Plow: Suitable for a wide variety of floor types, plows have a scoop-shaped fluke attached to a fixed or pivoting shank, burying themselves when pulled.
  • Claw: Suitable for a wide variety of floor types, claws have a curved fluke designed to hold fast in 360 degree swings.
  • Mushroom: Suitable for small boats in soft floor conditions in order to create a suction effect for staying power. Often weighing thousands of pounds.
What are the types of docking equipment?

Cleats should already be on the bow, stern, and midsection of your boat for tethering purposes.

  • Line or chain: Choose from double braided or three-strand twist rope or chain to tether the boat to an anchor or mooring.
  • Fender or bumper: These absorb the kinetic energy of a boat hitting another object. Fenders prevent damage caused by knocking against another boat, dock, or other structure.
  • Winch: Winches are rotating drums a rope, cable, or chain wrap around and cranked automatically or by hand to hoist an object, an anchor in this case. A windlass is a type of winch designed for extremely heavy loads.
  • Roller: Rollers provide efficient and smooth lowering and hoisting of the rope or chain as it runs along the edge of the boat.
  • Shackle: Shackles tether an anchor to a chain.
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