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When we think of idyllic anchorages, hand in hand with beautiful scenery goes protection. A good anchorage is one that offers shelter from the wind and the waves. Around here at least, what could be an awesome place to drop the hook could become very undesirable with a simple shift in wind direction. And so it has been with the last two places where we have anchored out. Our stop for lunch on Wolfe Island the other day and last night’s stay in Stella Bay were both full of Rock and Roll (the term we use for the rolling motion of the boat).

We’ve learned that one of the things that can magnify the wave action in a bay is fetch. Fetch is the distance travelled by wind/waves over open water. The greater the distance, the more the waves are able to build up.

Although the weatherman fibbed to us a bit last night and our anchorage was way more rocky than normal, both Rebecca and I had a decent night’s sleep. Fortunately neither one of us seem bothered by that wave action. I did get up a couple of times to check our position, to make sure we weren’t dragging our anchor, but Rocky (our pet name for our Rocna anchor) was holding us well.

Where shall we head today? We’d better check the weather again and hope that the wind report is a bit more accurate!


  1. Do you know how to use your GPS to check your anchor position? If you have a handheld one you can keep under your pillow, it keeps you from actually having to get UP to check on things. 🙂 With a Rocna, you should be able to sleep tight!

    • I do know how to use it but for it to work properly (I think) we need to mark the spot we drop the anchor, and in the past we never remember until we have let out all of the rode. I just installed a wireless handheld remote for the windlass so if I attached our little Garmin 76 to that remote (or kept them in the same spot even) perhaps it would remind me. If I am wrong about this please let me know.

  2. Great call!

    If you let the weather dictate your destination, you always have favorable winds.


  3. Hey – been there, with unpredicted wind shifts making a comfortable spot at least less comfortable and at worst untenable! Even with a rocna ….

    The GPS alarm really helps. We have a little card we’ve made up which reminds us that 0.01nM (the least distance on our alarm)is 18.5m. So if (say) the scope we have out is 20m, we might set the alarm to 0.02nM and know we’ll be woken when the tide changes or if we have gone twice our chain length from where we set the alarm. Works for us.

    • I am trying to visualize this. So you set the alarm after you have let out all of the rode as opposed to marking where you drop the anchor?

  4. I prefer to skip the entire anchor alarm quandry. You are correct that, in order to maintain accuracy and minimal alarm radius one would need to center the alarm directly over the anchor. One idea would be to add an anchor float and, once set, dinghy out to the float and set the alarm. Anchor floats have their own set of problems, however.
    Our routine is:
    1. Use a great anchor; properly sized. We have a Manson Supreme, you have a Rockna; same difference; excellent choices. With the Manson, we have, so far, always set on the first try and I am confident in a quick, successful re-set on a 180 degree swing. I would think the same would be true for the Rocna.
    2. Once set, I record the compass heading and the boat position lat/long on my iphone notepad. I leave the GPS on (in our case the chartplotter, usually to review the Sirius weather) and for the first 1/2 hour to 1 hour periodically check the lat/long when the heading lines up. Once I know it isn’t changing, I can go to sleep; comfortably. The heading and lat/long position are saved in the iPhone so if I awake to a change of conditions, I can re-check or at least have a reference. Of course, were we in waters where we could actually dive the anchor to see the set, we would do that as part of the routing, as well. Unfortunately, not there yet. 🙁
    3. This leaves concern over a change in conditions, ie. someone else arrives and either anchors too close or improperly (which the alarm won’t help) or weather conditions deteriorate. We make always review the weather forecast before turning in and I feel that, with the Manson, I am more likely to awake to bad weather before I would drag. And then I wouldn’t be sleeping anyway.
    Maybe all naive concepts, but the current anchor alarm tecnology seems to necessitate such a large radius setting to avoid false alarms (ie, swing without dragging) that to me, it seems fairly useless. Just my 2 cents. Everyone needs to find restful sleep in their own way.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Kirk!

      Our procedure…

      Set anchor with proper scope (5-7:1)
      Rig bridle (this adds a bit to scope too)
      Flake sail and put sail cover on or have a beer.
      After the above is done, back down on anchor while checking relative bearings to see if it is holding
      If it is set, which it always is with the Rocna, turn off engines and continue to tidy up or go for a swim. 🙂

      • Sounds like a good routine to me. We sat at anchor this weekend for 2 1/2 days and did three 360’s. Anchor never budged as far as I can tell. We did have a couple of nuckleheads anchor toooooo close on either side of us the last evening (even though there was plenty of room elsewhere). Rather than complain, we just upanchored, drifted aft 100′ and re-set (with glass of wine in hand). Easy peasy and non confrontational. 60lb. Manson Supreme, 150′ chain, 25′ 5/8″ 3 strand bridle = no worries. After dragging several times on the 55lb. Delta that came with the boat, we made the change. Best investment we made and no, I am not affiliated or connected with Manson in any way. And I am sure I would feel the same if it were a Rocna, we just opted to put the extra $$$ into upsizing.
        And by the way, I am not knocking the anchor alarm crowd. Whatever gets rest for captain and crew is what is important.

  5. Absolutely agree that what works for one crew is not necessarily right for another!

    Maybe it’s heretical but I’ve never really understood why people think they want to set the alarm from where the anchor is, when the boat may be many metres away! I want to know how far I’ve moved from the position I was in when I’d dug the anchor in, whether due to wind or tide. And I don’t mind sticking my head up when the tide changes, just to scan the surroundings.

    So – we set the anchor and back down. Set alarm and note (pen in logbook!) lat and long, plus depth of water and rode that’s out. If we change position significantly, I note the new lat&long. And if we’re sitting out a storm, I keep a running note of the furthest leeward point to 3 decimal places. In most situations we find that 0.02nM will do for a 180 swing, but if we’ve been there a while and we’ve seen some wind, so we’re confident, we’ll go to 0.03.

    We have spent up to 9 weeks at a time at anchor, including weeks in 35kt plus winds(eg in Northern Spain) and have evolved our practice accordingly. We changed to a rocna two years ago, not because the CQR wasn’t a good anchor but because it really wasn’t coping with Med weed. We do love the rocna, which sets and holds brilliantly, but we did sit out some gales on the CQR too.

    • Sarah & Pip

      I am trying to understand how you do this. What do you set the alarm at? 0.02nM (121 feet)? If you have 130 feet out then swinging, as opposed to dragging, will trip the alarm. Is this correct?

      • And if you are sitting on the stern when you set the alarm you must also add the boat length.
        So, let’s say that you are at a 20′ depth and put out 5:1 or 100′ of rode. That would set the bow of the boat at approximately 98′ radius from the anchor (pythagoras). Assuming you were to set the alarm in the aft cockpit of a 32′ boat, you are now setting the alarm 120′ from the anchor. In order to swing 180 degrees, the boat would travel 240′ from the starting alarm set position, so the alarm must be set for greater than 240′ (plus a drag/re-set factor) so let’s say 250′ in order to avoid a false alarm. So, from the original alarm setting location, if the wind never changes the boat would be able to drag 250′ backwards before alarm went off. Hmmm.

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