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Often we hear anchorages described has having “good holding“, or “so-so holding“, or… you get the idea. Skipper Bob even has the holding for all of the anchorages listed in his guide rated from 1-5. I’m curious as to how one rates something like this. For me, it’s pretty much like a light switch. It’s either on or it’s off; your anchor holds or it drags. I know that certain bottom types (mud or soft sand) are better than others (rocks, weeds, etc.) but is that how they are rating this? Or perhaps it is a percentage thing, such as, only 20% of the people who anchor here drag onto the rocks, so I guess that is “pretty good holding.” 😉

In yesterday’s post I showed a pic of Zach and me heading back to anchored ZTC to close the hatches. The dark clouds in the sky looked as if we may get a bit of a thunderstorm. Although it didn’t come until later in the evening when both Rebecca and I were back on board, it did come!

We were told that the place where we are anchored has “so-so holding.” I would like to apply to have that rating raised to at least “good holding.” When that storm kicked up the wind was over 20 knots for at least 15 minutes and the highest gust was 29.6 knots. We swung 180 degrees in that tight little spot, but we didn’t drag. Nor did I notice any of the other boats anchored nearby us dragging.

When we set our anchor yesterday, we ended up a little closer to the boat behind us than we would have liked (I’m sure the Captain of that boat would agree, especially when we started our generator). While on board we looked quite close but from the dinghy, we could see that we were actually a good 2 boat lengths in front of him. Regardless, when that storm started up, we wanted to be ready so we had our instruments on (that’s how I know the wind speed), engines running and foul weather jackets at the ready in case we had to go outside. None of that was needed fortunately but given the short amount of time we would have had to react had we started to drag (in the “so-so holding” anchorage), it was best to be prepared.

The following pics have nothing to do with the above post but I just received them in our email. They were taken by our friends Kirk and Donna when we last went sailing with them. Hopefully we’ll be able to get together with them again this weekend.

Just before we put the second reef in our main sail.

Fenders ready to raft up.

Making our approach.

Flaking the sail after a great day on the water.


  1. My theory on the holding for our creek (and yes, I still find it weird to call these winding waterways creeks too)… is that 20-30 knots for a short storm is not a real test of holding. That’s you average blow through, or even a normal trade wind down south. If you are still in that spot after a GOOD storm, a REAL blow (40 knots all night gusting to the 70’s) — then you know the holding of that anchorage. And of your anchor

    • Something that is common in the Chesapeake is that the more protected the spot, the more likely that the bottom may be thin bottomless silt. If you have an undersize CQR you may drag all night; with a big Fortress or Rocna, no worries. Forget short scope–bad idea. Also, in some of these holding varies with time; try to set right at the drop, and you will drag, while if you let the hook settle in for an hour and then back down, all is well. I was in one of these last night; my Delta simply lacked the area to bite well and I didn’t want to wait, but the Fortress was a rock instantly, at full rpm.

  2. Very true, Boatbaby.

    Mike, I’m guessing the fact that you have a nice Rocna and a lot of rode is going to put your holding a bit above Skipper Bob’s estimates… not sure what anchors the guide’s guesses are based on, but I suspect it assumes older designs. I keep hearing Rocna (and Spade, etc.) owners saying their hook will bite and hold in many places where other anchors will drag.

    Boatbaby’s criterion of 40 gusting to 70 as proof of “good” holding sounds about right to me…. even my cheap generic Danforth clone will hold in a steady 20, once set.

  3. At the risk of sounding really subjective on anchors (one of the 3 things to NOT discuss with new acquaintances), you do have an advantage using the Rocna in Back Creek. The Rocna can make lots of so-so holding anchorages into good ones.

    Fair Winds,

  4. Hey Mike, If you’re still in Back Creek and need a rigger Cheasapeake Rigging is about 100 yards from where you’re anchored. Ask for Collin and tell him Tommy Smith from Sailaway Catamarans sent you. They’re probably the best riggers in the area! Also give me a call if you can, we might be able to arrange a free slip for a day or two if you need to reprovision or whatnot. 443 756 9820 or

    • Hi Sid

      We are not still there but will be heading back for the boat show. I don’t think we’ll bring our boat right back to Annapolis though. Thank you for the suggestion on a rigger. I think our friend Kirk used those guys too. Also, the offer for the free slip is very generous. Thank you!

  5. I was going to say that your anchor might be a bit better than those used by the people who reported the quality of the holding

  6. Mike your points regarding “Other Boaters Opinions” including Skipper Bob are absolutely 100 percent accurate. Always remember that we all have differing opinions, but more importantly we have different boats, different anchors, different chains, different lines, scope of line and chain put out, weather conditions on the day of our visit, each of us has a different experience even though we may be talking about the exact same anchorage.

    Its simply to damn easy, especially on the internet, for someone to present themselves as an expert. Never risk your vessel or your life based on someone else’s opinion or experience!

    The reality is that my experience anchoring in one spot may not be the same as yours due to how I handle my vessel, my vessel’s configuration, the weather, and a myriad of other circumstances.

  7. Thanks for the comments everyone! We are now “pretty” confident about our anchor, rode and methods but not yet having much experience with big blows yet, I know we’ll still be on edge during storms.

  8. I may be a little off topic, but why do you flake the sale as opposed to lowering the sail??? All the darn sailing language is insurmountable all by itself!! 😉

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