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When sailing I may anchor in a different bay each evening and take a dinghy in to land to sleep in a tent overnight.

I always worry that when I wake up in the morning the boat may no longer be there, so what can I do to choose suitable sea bed to anchor in, or to ensure the anchor is firmly affixed, even if the tide changes?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Set the anchor by reversing the engine until the anchor chain is tight, and then run the engine at medium speed to make sure the anchor has dug in. You can watch a GPS to make sure the speed is around zero (and the anchor is not dragging) when you're doing this.

However, if the tide and/or wind changes, it can pull out a set anchor. If you use a LOT of chain and it's not too windy and the current is not too swift, the boat will only drag the chain around and won't actually pull on the anchor. Also, if it does pull the anchor up and you have a lot of chain out, it's likely to catch again somewhere nearby (unless it goes over a ledge into deep water).

Some people will set two anchors, one in each direction of the tide. I don't think I could do that without ending up with a tangled mess of chain.

Maybe you could get a wireless anchor alarm that goes off in your tent when the boat moves.

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What xpda writes about setting the anchor is right (although hopefully you know this if you are sailing your own boat). As well as what he says, make sure you have the right kind of anchor for the bed, and you have enough rode (rope or chain). For overnight it should be at least 7 times the water depth. The longer the better, within reason. Here are some sailing specific websites.

If you are in any doubt about the security of your anchor, you should set an anchor watch. Basically this means checking periodically that your boat position is not moving. Use a compass bearing from a fixed point. Obviously that means not leaving your boat unattended for the night. If you have electronic navigation system you can set an anchor alarm - one that will sound if you get more than a set distance from your anchor point. There are also some smartphone apps that will do the same job. Some specialist boating websites will give you more information. Here is an example.

You can also set two anchors (though 'one for each direction of the tide' may not be necessary - two anchors might be set for a different reason if the current or wind might change and you don't want the boat to swing).

Plenty of sailing or boating websites will give you more information about this.

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take the US power squadron's boating safety course. failing that try a long safety rope. pay out a lot of line 8:1-10:1 'scope'.

why are you not sleeping on board? simpler.

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Hi Skip - Sleeping on board is an option but explicitly not what I was asking in the question. If you write a summary of the boating course that might be helpful. See How to Answer for guidance. – Rory Alsop Jan 19 at 9:55
thankyou for down grading a safety recommendation, one that is pretty much the first step to staying out of the hospital, court, jail, and or the grave yard. The United States Power Squadron Safe Boating course covers all aspects of safe boating. Navigation, equipment requirements, fueling, operation, fires, first aid, man over board, docking, mooring, anchoring, radio, PWC operation, sailing basics, Coast guard safety inspections and yes how to use a GPS ...which seems to be the most important thing to newbies. . – SkipBerne Jan 19 at 14:28
As a safety recommendation - sure, it's probably good. I don't know that one as it is US focused, and we have others this side of the water that I used to teach years ago when I was a sailing instructor. But unless it is in your post it doesn't help - so the down vote is for your post itself. As I mentioned, How to Answer explains what we need in a post, so you can easily edit to improve and hopefully gain upvotes. – Rory Alsop Jan 19 at 14:52
had no absolutely no idea that you are on the east pond. the USPS is an online course too. I am sure there is a euro or UK equiv. The USPS course is applicable for all countries. your life and passengers life in all probability will depend on the information provided. I am certified here and as S.Africa Sea Rescue. it gets tiring fishing amatures out of the water ... its your life and I can tell you that the most helpless time in your life is having an accident at sea or in a large body of water. – SkipBerne Jan 19 at 15:45

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