Boating is one of THE BEST ways to explore our waters.
Whether new coastlines, unchartered islands, bays and inlets, boating is one of the most incredible ways to truly see and appreciate the magic of our oceans.
And as more and more of us are taking to the waters for this very experience, and we travel further afield to avoid the crowds, our anchors are one of the most important bits of equipment we have on our boats. Thus it is important that we use them right by adopting anchoring best practices!
Where and how we anchor is having an increasing impact on life below the waterline.
Anchoring is a must at times, particularly where there are no marinas, pontoons or mooring buoys, but as very heavy weights, with an equally weighty chain attached, our anchors can have an unprecedented impact on our remaining coral and seagrass beds, and those that have begun to regenerate already.
Once we’ve dropped the hook, and due to changing winds and tides, our anchors can drag for 10metres+ over the seabed, often raking through seagrasses, over corals and living organisms that call the seabed home.
It's a bit like bulldozing a forest....
Coral reefs and seagrasses in particular, are feeding grounds, breeding grounds and nurseries to a whole host of marine species – so when these areas get damaged it follows that the species and systems they support in our waters, including food chains, also get impacted heavily.
You can’t put a price on nature but studies have estimated that the cost of replacing any one square metre of damaged coral is approximately USD 3,000! That’s a lot!
Anchoring best practices
So, it’s SUPER important that we adopt anchoring best practices, checking the bed we are dropping and retrieving our hooks from, and heading for existing moorings wherever they exist.
Anchoring best practices checklist:
✓ Always use mooring buoys where they exist. These are strategically placed to help protect life on the bottom
✓ Check charts for designated anchor areas – use these as far as possible
✓ Check with the boat-owner or charter company where the designated anchorages and mooring pontoons are
✓ Stay away from corals, seagrass beds, kelp forests and life-rich seabeds. Whilst they are awesome to snorkel over, we need to stay clear with our anchors!
✓ Use local pilotage books, knowledge or blogs to understand where best to drop hook without damaging pristine habitats
✓ Be Aware : Your anchor chain can cause as much damage as your anchor, especially when the winds makes you turn around your anchor. When this happens, your chain might drag over the seabed. When it’s possible, make sure to find a sanbank large enough for you to rest your anchor aswell as your chain!