Bow and Stern Anchoring 101

canal anchor spot

Canal looks wider than it was

The ICW has several stretches where one will not find any suitable place to anchor. I don’t include the possibility of marinas because for us, we don’t use them unless we need to or if they offer moorings. Even so, after we were north of Daytona Beach area, no marinas existed anyway. Our planned stop turned out to be way too shallow even for us and we nudged through sand at 2 ½ ft very quickly off the channel. Next option, about 5 miles north was an undeveloped canal right off the ICW that ActiveCaptain said was good to use. It would require bow and stern anchors as it was quite narrow (perhaps  60′) so not enough swing room (and I’m not talking dancing). It looked about ¼ mile long, situated east to west.

On the plus side, we were the only ones looking to anchor there. Guys fishing in small skiffs came around but otherwise we had the place to ourselves… along with the no-see-ums, myriad insects and plenty of small fish. With darkness (that’d be around 8pm) the fish began jumpin’ and we could hear their plopping sound which intensified when we shined the flashlight over the water.

This was our first time using a stern anchor; we’d used our spare as a second bow anchor in Boca Grande Bayou when we were stern-tied to the mangroves.  Setting it was much easier than retrieval and this once was good enough for me but Russ- hey this is the guy who thought the squall was “fun” -suggested it was good practice and he’d anchor there again. Geeze, not me.

Here’s how it played out: dropped main Rocna anchor (88lbs) fairly close to the south side and let out 75′ feet of chain. The wind was southwest and light and we swung close to the north side. Extracted the Fortress (21lbs, with 20’chain/200’line) from its place at the bow and Russ took it in the dinghy to about 40′ past our stern toward the south side, leaving it cleated near the bow. When it was set, we moved the line completely to the stern and tied it there.

russ pulls anchor

A two anchor workout

This brought us to the center of the canal with our bow facing the entrance. So far so good. The wind was keeping us in place but if it died down our stern would swing close to the north side- which is exactly what happened. Before I got up the next morning Russ re-tied the stern anchor to the other side of the stern and that moved us back to near center.

The morning retrieval process would be more fun as a video, albeit a long one at 30 mins. The key decision was which anchor to raise first. We decided that in order for me to pull up the Fortress (no laughing) it would need to move to the bow which meant the Rocna had to come up first. Russ let out some stern line then raised the Rocna (we have an electric winch for that as opposed to a wench). By this time the wind was out of the west and helping hold us in place.  Next he quickly pulled in half of the line and brought the line around to the bow and I took over pulling it in while Russ maneuvered the boat. We had to swing around the anchor because once it was at the bow we were inches away from the shore. Once we’d swung to have the bow facing out and the anchor in front of us, I was able (just barely) to pull up the remaining line and chain through the bow roller and get the anchor up enough so that Russ could finish the process. We quickly traded places and my job was to keep the boat in the middle of canal- luckily the wind was a huge help. Phew- now we just had to get over the low entrance bar and start on our way. The entrance was 3 ½’ deep (half way to low tide) and if the width was 5 feet more than our beam of 23′ I’d be very surprised. Did we do all perfectly? Was there a better way? Who knows, but it worked out and now we can add one more exercise to our list of things we’ve done.

Please share any thoughts or questions.

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