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Anegada, the northern most island of the BVI, is known to be very shallow. Boats running aground in the area or worse, being wrecked here, is apparently quite common place. So much so that the island is considered off limits by many charter companies. After a beautiful sail to Anegada from Virgin Gorda in almost perfect conditions, we wanted to see just how shallow it really was.

That’s not exactly true but we did unintentionally test the limits of the shallow anchorage. After making our way through the long, marked entrance channel, I maneuvered One Love around the back of the mooring field to find a place to anchor. The water was reasonably clear and I could see the bottom. That is not always a good measure of the depth of the water though as we have many times been able to see the bottom in 30′ or more of water. The light was good, I was moving slowly and monitoring our depth gauge intently. Imagine my surprise when the boat abruptly stopped its forward motion when our depth gauge still read 6 feet!

There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground and those who lie about it. I am not a liar!

  • Note: We were under the impression that the depth gauge had been calibrated to show the water under the keel. It was obviously off by at least 6′.

Without too much effort I was able to back One Love off the sandy bottom where she had lodged herself and following that, find a spot with a bit more water to anchor. Shortly after settling in I was eager to find out just how messed up our depth calculations were.

Using our portable handheld depth gauge we took readings adjacent to where the depth transducer is installed and found the water to be 8′ deep. As we typically like for the gauge to read the water under the keel, the display at the helm should have been reading 3.5 feet. Instead it was showing 10′, quite a difference! When I checked the setting I found that the installer had set the offset to a positive value instead of a negative one, resulting in that 7 foot discrepancy.

All is well now though, I have adjusted the settings to what we want them to be. If you’re going to find out that your depth gauge is not set properly, this is a relatively painless way to do it.

A good morning rainbow in Anegada


  1. Hey, it helped you fix a problem. good work! Go have a beer now. 😉

  2. Very fortunate to have found out the “easy way” instead of the hard way….

  3. Running aground never fails to surprise! Glad it was slowly and softly onto sand..
    Enjoy Anegada!! Be sure to go to the ocean side. Beautiful beaches. Cow wreck beach with the beach bar is worth a stop.

    Fred and Phyllis
    Lady J 111
    Beneteau 50
    Lying BVI

  4. Mike, Each year like many others we travel to the BVI and bareboat a 450. We like to visit the somewhat less than overly popular areas during our 7 day adventure. Like most others to grab a ball at days end is typical however not always our first choice. It is hard to find places to drop the hook without mixing it up with the mooring field. Its not that I am unsociable but it is nice not to listen to someones generator all night. Would you mind sharing some of “your ” spots with a part-timer like me?

    • Hi Tim

      We are presently anchored in Leverick Bay, just aft of the mooring field. Although there are a lot of balls here there is also plenty of room to anchor. We have also anchored on the shelf by Saba Rock too. We also anchored in Great Harbor, JVD and at Little Jost by Sandy Island. Peter Island has many bays that are not filled with balls. Just because there are balls there does not mean that you have to use them. The exception to that is park areas like in St. John.

  5. MIke
    Take your dinghy and guests to the far east end of the island, watch depths and you will find a conch island and some of the best snorkelling in the area, just inside the reef there. Lobsters as well. Enjoy !
    On the west side of the island is another great spot for snorkelling as well.

    • Thanks Richard. We are on a bit of a time “schedule” doing some charter recon. I appreciate that tip though. We spent more time in Anegada our last time around. I’ll check out the spots you mentioned next time.

  6. So fortunate.. it could have been worse! Thankfully sand!~

  7. a. It only took me 5 minutes and about~ 100 meters to run-a-ground with my new PDQ… the first time. But never damage and never stuck. I pick my spots carefully.

    b. While it might not matter in the islands, most of us should also measure the air draft. Forget what it says in the manual–they may have ordered a tall rig–and allow for the instruments and height of deck. Hitting a bridge is generally worse than hitting bottom.

    • Funny but I was just talking about the air draft yesterday. No, we don’t know it and no, it doesn’t matter so much here as in the US. I’m sure I’ll measure it at some point.

      As for the pdq, yeah, we have touched bottom several times, even with a properly calibrated depth gauge.

  8. “If you have not been aground, you have not been around.”

    D & Don

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