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I'm shortly going to be cruising rivers including the tidal Ouse. So I need to install an anchor. I've done a bit of research and it seems I need an anchor, some chain and some rope. But how heavy and how long? Mine is a 55 foot 16 ton narrowboat. I've heard that I might need a 25 kilo anchor. However, I don't think that I could physicaly pull that out of the water! What would the minimum weight be? I'm quite old and just not that strong : ) Also, how would I attach the anchor? I have a cratch cover, which makes it very difficult to get onto the front of the boat without unzipping the sides. I'm thinking that in an emergency situation, that's not the best thing to be doing. I have thought about attaching the anchor to the front of the boat and storing it in the cratch, ready to just throw over the side in an emergency. Does that sound sensible? Can the anchor be attached at the back of the boat instead, where I could quickly drop it ove the side (it's a cruiser stern)? Any help appreciated, particularly with anchor size and how to put all that anchor, chain and rope together. Thanks.

Asked by: Carl  | 7.57am, Thursday 8 September

WW says:

A 16 or 20kg anchor would suffice to stop a boat- of Danforth (or possibly CQR/Plough design, though these are harder to store). Crucial is the amount of chain you use, as well as the length of line- 20ft of chain is really a minimum, as this helps the horizontal pull on the anchor. The long the line in general, the better. 30m line plus 5m chain should be a minimum.
For a cruiser stern boat, having the anchor permanently attached at the stern is perfectly acceptable, even is you are going upstream (the boat will turn abruptly as the line goes taught). Many larger barges (especially commercial ones) do this as a matter of course. It is also far easier to lift an anchor from the stern- however, the final connection of the chain to the boat should be with rope, not chain- you may find that, if you use the anchor, it becomes impossible to retrieve, so may have to be cut loose.
The chain and cable should be flaked out in a figure-of-eight style, so that it can run out smoothly.
I would NOT run the anchor line along the roof from the bow- there would be a good chance of the line snagging on a cleat or other obstruction on the roof-this could then cause the action of the anchor to be taken onto the superstructure, which could potentially cause the boat to be tilted over alarmingly, or even capsize. Running an acnhor line on the roof is extremely bad practice. An anchor should only be stored and used at deck level, either at the bow or the stern. For cruiser and semi-trad stern, keeping the anchor aft is a very good idea. ON cruiser sterns, I have seen anchor lockers build into the stern *(forward of the diesel tank) and purpose made attachment points and holders for the anchor.

Mark Langley  | 10.19AM, Friday 9 September

There will be an article soon on choosing and fitting anchors- however, the easiest material to splice to chain direcly is 8-laid polyester- such as Anchorplait or Octoplait. There are videos and pictures online to show you how to put this together.
To attach the chain to the anchor, use very strong shackles (with a breaking strain greater than that of the chain- otherwise they become, literally, the weakest link). The shackles should ideally be "moused closed" with seizing wire, or a threadlocking compound (Locktite, for example) to avoid them coming undone whilst under load. Sometimes two shackles are used to give more confidence, but this can foul the anchor stock.

Mark Langley  | 10.42AM, Friday 9 September

Although 15m is OK, longer would potentially be better- if the water is 20ft deep (and some rivers can be much deeper), an all-chain line would need around 60ft laid out, with a mix chain-line, around 120ft, which is why generally we recommend 35m+ of combined length. To dig in, the anchor line cannot be more than about 30 degrees from the horizontal- often much less- otherwise it breaks out (which is how you release an anchor).
The otherside, of course, is that for most narrowboats, using an anchor is often as a drag weight- anchoring techniques not practised often with inland boaters (unlike those of us who sail at sea as well), so an anchor dragging along the bottom is often how they work- they rarely set- so hence the chandlers probably suggesting shorter lengths. Its also far easier to stow!
I have anchored narrowboats three times in anger- twice due to loss of power, once for a deliberate anchoring (at Trent Falls) and its certainly not easy to retrieve, compared to a yacht/motorcruiser (or Dutch Barge) with a nice manual or electric winch! S

Mark Langley  | 11.36AM, Friday 9 September

Readers say:

I've not gone on a river yet but I would attatch the rope to the bow but run it along the roof to the back of the boat and keep the anchor somewhere handy at the back WHEN GOING UPSTREAM.
Going down stream I would attach the rope to a stern dolly or bit. Others may contradict this.

Martin Ross  | 5.07PM, Thursday 8 September

Thank you. I'd workd out for myself that it wouldn't be a good idea to run the anchor line across the roof. I've lost two chimney covers to a badly flipped centre line : )
I've actually saught advice from a reputable chandler, who is building an anchor and line for me. It'll consist of a 14kg anchor, 8m chain and 15m polyester plus various mysterious loops and connections. They reckon that'll be enough. I'm happy to have the thing built for me, rather than rely on my own splicing and connecting skills!

Carl  | 11.04AM, Friday 9 September

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