anchoring to beach

Dropping the Hook and Staying Put

In the Solent there is an extensive of places to visit and explore, we sometimes want to anchor up in a bay somewhere to go for a swim or have a bite to eat… however, have you checked that you have considered suitable anchorage for your day? 

  • What type of boat are you anchoring? What equipment do you have? 
  • Where are you looking to anchor?
  • When are you planning to anchor – have you checked the weather and tide?

backflip off boatWhat?

It’s important to know your equipment before anchoring, including your boat, type of anchor you have and the cable attached to your anchor. 

When selecting your anchorage, bear in mind that all boats lay differently to the wind or stream, therefore allow enough swinging room. Ribs tend to lay to the wind, whereas yachts with deep keels will lay with the stream.

There are many types of anchors to choose from, each offering different positives depending on the type of boat you are using and where you are looking to anchor. 


2 golden rules of anchoring… 1) look for shelter from wind, tide and swell; 2) look at the chart, known problems are often displayed. 

Pilot books, local charts and notices to mariners may distinguish locations that offer good holding or have any geographical or special anchoring restrictions in place.

Here at Solent Rib Charter, our open Ribs have ‘Claw’ anchors, so have come up with an anagram to help us remember what to look out for on a chart when picking an anchorage #CLAW.

plotting a course

# – A hash mark indicates foul ground.

C – Curly lines indicate a cable.

L – Lollipops indicate a pipeline.

A – Anchoring signs (any no anchorage signs?)

W – Watch out for isolated rocks.

There are of course many other symbols… look at the chart where you expect to anchor, if there is a symbol that you are unaware of, look it up, or move to safer waters.


When choosing when to anchor, it’s well worth thinking about the prevailing and expected weather, sea and current conditions. 

The depth of water and the weather will determine the amount of scope* you will require when dropping your anchor. 

*Scope is the amount of chain or warp let into the water. As well as the depth of water, the amount of scope also depends on whether chain or rope is used to hold the anchor. Once you have checked the depth and tidal range, use a scope of anchor length of at least 4 x the depth for chain and 6 x for rope/chain combinations.

‘Dropping the hook and staying put’

  1. Point the bow into the strongest element (wind or current) and stop the boat. Lower the anchor to the bottom before the boat moves backwards.
  2. Continue easing the scope as the boat drifts back.
  3. Once anchor is laid and the cable secured, momentarily engage tick-over astern to ensure good holding.

Rib anchored up for swimAn anchor works best when the pull from the boat is horizontal, so that the pull is digging the anchor in. The golden rule when anchoring… if in doubt, let more cable out.

Once the anchor is down, choose a transit abeam (two points in line) to check the anchor is holding and the boat is not drifting. At the change of tide, be prepared to pick new transits.

If the wind increases, let out more cable to relieve the load on the anchor and to keep the pull as near horizontal as possible.

As well as using for leisure, the anchor is also a great defensive strategy should you get into difficulty – to reduce or stop your drift in case of power failure.