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How to Anchor and Sleep Safely

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We will find a cove in the next few weeks and anchor out and spend the weekend in the cove - we've never done this and looking for some guidance.

- Any suggestions on how to anchor properly? I don't want to wake up and have drifted to the shoreline and get stuck or in the middle of the lake. I only have a front windlass anchor, nothing in the stern.

- I will run the generator till we go to bed and then cut it off. What should I leave my battery selectors on? I have two (starboard and port) and my options for each are Off, 1, 2, All.

The person I bought the boat from told me he left the selector on All for both....all the time (which the manual doesn't recommend). He had the original manual and reading it clearly states that while not using the boat, to move both to Off, while leaving the charger switch on. I did this last week and when I went up last weekend, the batteries were nearly dead so maybe I didn't something wrong??

Should we make it through the night and not get stuck on the shoreline, I would really like to have enough battery to start the engines!!

Thanks so much, this is a really helpful and active forum.

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Battery switch in off if no power is needed, bilge pump is a direct wire so it always has power.   Battery 1 is the main battery for starting, and battery 2 is set up for anchoring and using radio and so forth.   When in positon 2 battery one should stay fully charged so you can re start.

In you are in a cove the only movement at anchor should be from the tide or current if on a river.  You want to make sure you anchor so that you boat will have a 360 swing around the anchor and not hit anything.  

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2 hours ago, jdsdls05 said:

In you are in a cove the only movement at anchor should be from the tide or current if on a river.  You want to make sure you anchor so that you boat will have a 360 swing around the anchor and not hit anything.  

Very true and that's a good and important point.  Reminds me,  I often see mooring fields in our harbor fully packed with boats that I don't bother even cutting through them with mine and end up going all around them in most cases because on the ocean, the current and winds spin these boats around a lot and I worry with such tight spaces, one will spin right into me and I won't have enough time and space to avoid hitting it.  And in some cases with huge sailboats and other motor boats all tied up in a bunch, it seems like they always turn and spin at the same time and in the same direction but if by any coincidence one spun one way and the other another way, they would be so close to bumping one another that I wonder if that ever does happen.  Doesn't seem to be the case but sometimes it sure looks like it would!

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How much chain do you have on your anchor and how deep is the cove you are anchoring in for the night?  Is there a tide or current or are you just floating with the breeze being the controlling factor of how your boat is facing.  Three times the rope/anchor length is a good rule to the depth you are anchoring in.

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Really depends on how many batteries you have and what you need.  I read on another thread you have a '95 Sig 31.  So I presume you've got at least two house batteries. 

Our Sig 250 has one starting battery and two house batteries.  Since there's no draw on the starting battery and I want the house batteries to provide power to the refrigerator and charging accessories such as phones on the hook, I leave both battery switches 'on'.  Just make sure the 'tie switch" or "emergency" switch is off so you're not drawing current from all batteries and running the risk of drawing all batteries dead by morning. 

In my experience, the two house batteries are plenty enough to keep the fridge running, phones charged, and anchor light on through the night with plenty of juice leftover.

With regards to anchoring, it depends on the bottom, how deep, what kind of anchor you're using, and how much chain and rode you have.  There are plenty of diagrams online that illustrate this, but be sure you have the proper scope and at least 15' - 20' of chain to keep the anchor set while the boat pulls against it.  A good scope is 7 to 1, but if winds are light you can go as low as 4 or 5 to 1.

Think about an anchor alarm.  Many phone apps out there for that.  It will alert you if the boat moves outside a circle you set based on GPS.  Of course, if you use this, you'll need to keep the phone plugged in and the batteries on as the GPS function draws a little power and your phone might not last the night without charging.

Staying on the hook is a lot of fun.  Very peaceful.  But you're right...you want to be comfortable and confident in your decisions in order to sleep well.  Still, it's hard to sleep that first night.  But it will get easier!

 

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Yep! Anchor alarm.

You may want to set a two anchors at a 45 to each other. You could say, making a V with your boat at the bottom of the V.

Myself, I would pay for a mooring if that service is around. 

On the batteries, you may want to rethink how there set up and what will be on. It sounds like you need to bring someone on board and have them look at it and make recommendations. On the same idea as Texas71, my 3 house batteries have nothing to do with my 2 starting batteries except in recharging them.  

 

 

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I am leery of anyone using the both Batteries way. That is normally a sign 1 or both batteries are worn out.

Boat has dual / twin engines ?

 

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Never leave your battery selector in the ALL position. If you have a drain it will drain them ALL.. As soon as I shut down for the night mine is in the #2 position (house battery). 

Anchor early so you can identify any issues before it gets dark. 

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+1 on anchoring early.

When we did 9 nights on Lake Powell, we anchored for 8 of them, and 5 of them had monsoon storms. We were always anchored by 4:00 (just in time for happy hour!) and had at least 4 more hours of daylight. Give yourself plenty of clearance for swing. If you're not dealing with a heavy current or tides and you're in a protective cove, you could be in for a great nights sleep (once the worrying stops!). 

We always switch our batteries to HOUSE (#2) as soon as we stop for any length of time. This ensures you keep your starting batteries isolated and charged. I would try to avoid turning the batteries to off in case there is an emergency in the middle of the night and you need lights/power in a hurry. You don't want to be tripping over things to get the batteries back on.

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Keep your batteries on as you will need to keep your white light on while at night.

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31 minutes ago, Chap243 said:

Keep your batteries on as you will need to keep your white light on while at night.

Good point! Yes, at anchor your anchor light must be on. But if its LED, they use so little. On a mooring, there is no need for the anchor light to be on.  

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10 minutes ago, Iggy said:

On a mooring, there is no need for the anchor light to be on.  

Great point!  Now that we've moved to the other side of our lake, there are some mooring balls nearby.  Can't wait to tie up some fall night and sleep really really well!  Prior to this, it was stay in the marina or go on the hook.

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I put all lights on during the night. Why ?  Because I want the drink & drive people to see my boat in the dark. They might just wake up enough to see the lights & miss me.

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7 hours ago, Jjlai724 said:

How much chain do you have on your anchor and how deep is the cove you are anchoring in for the night?  Is there a tide or current or are you just floating with the breeze being the controlling factor of how your boat is facing.  Three times the rope/anchor length is a good rule to the depth you are anchoring in.

I don't even know how much chain I have. I think the first 30' is chain then rope. The cove will be around 20-25' deep, no current, fresh water lake. Thanks for the advice.

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8 hours ago, TexasPilot71 said:

Really depends on how many batteries you have and what you need.  I read on another thread you have a '95 Sig 31.  So I presume you've got at least two house batteries. 

Our Sig 250 has one starting battery and two house batteries.  Since there's no draw on the starting battery and I want the house batteries to provide power to the refrigerator and charging accessories such as phones on the hook, I leave both battery switches 'on'.  Just make sure the 'tie switch" or "emergency" switch is off so you're not drawing current from all batteries and running the risk of drawing all batteries dead by morning. 

In my experience, the two house batteries are plenty enough to keep the fridge running, phones charged, and anchor light on through the night with plenty of juice leftover.

With regards to anchoring, it depends on the bottom, how deep, what kind of anchor you're using, and how much chain and rode you have.  There are plenty of diagrams online that illustrate this, but be sure you have the proper scope and at least 15' - 20' of chain to keep the anchor set while the boat pulls against it.  A good scope is 7 to 1, but if winds are light you can go as low as 4 or 5 to 1.

Think about an anchor alarm.  Many phone apps out there for that.  It will alert you if the boat moves outside a circle you set based on GPS.  Of course, if you use this, you'll need to keep the phone plugged in and the batteries on as the GPS function draws a little power and your phone might not last the night without charging.

Staying on the hook is a lot of fun.  Very peaceful.  But you're right...you want to be comfortable and confident in your decisions in order to sleep well.  Still, it's hard to sleep that first night.  But it will get easier!

 

Yes, a 95 Sig 31. There are three batteries. I thought one for each engine and one for the house, but maybe it's two for the house, one for the engines. The boat actually has a working GPS installed that seems nice but I will download an app too and check it out also, I didn't know that was an option, thanks for the tips!

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7 hours ago, Iggy said:

Yep! Anchor alarm.

You may want to set a two anchors at a 45 to each other. You could say, making a V with your boat at the bottom of the V.

Myself, I would pay for a mooring if that service is around. 

On the batteries, you may want to rethink how there set up and what will be on. It sounds like you need to bring someone on board and have them look at it and make recommendations. On the same idea as Texas71, my 3 house batteries have nothing to do with my 2 starting batteries except in recharging them.  

 

 

I've spoken to the guy we bought the boat from a few times now and while he know quite a bit about the boat, he said they did not use all the features of the boat and there are quite a few things he can't answer. Because of this, I have an appointment with a service to meet me at the boat in a few weeks to look at a few things and answer a bunch of questions. I want to know all about the boat, how and why it works, and want everything to work!

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6 hours ago, cyclops2 said:

I am leery of anyone using the both Batteries way. That is normally a sign 1 or both batteries are worn out.

Boat has dual / twin engines ?

 

It does have twin engines and the original manual to the boat they gave me someone highlighted many years ago the section "boat with three batteries" and how to operate the switches, but it didn't seem to do good like the manual.

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5 hours ago, Phillbo said:

Never leave your battery selector in the ALL position. If you have a drain it will drain them ALL.. As soon as I shut down for the night mine is in the #2 position (house battery). 

Anchor early so you can identify any issues before it gets dark. 

Very good idea. I will actually go up this weekend and in our ski boat will scope out the cove (or two) I'd like to try and will def anchor out the following weekend in daylight. Weird the previous owner said he didn't even know there was a battery selector and never moved anything.

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5 hours ago, ChappyMike said:

+1 on anchoring early.

When we did 9 nights on Lake Powell, we anchored for 8 of them, and 5 of them had monsoon storms. We were always anchored by 4:00 (just in time for happy hour!) and had at least 4 more hours of daylight. Give yourself plenty of clearance for swing. If you're not dealing with a heavy current or tides and you're in a protective cove, you could be in for a great nights sleep (once the worrying stops!). 

We always switch our batteries to HOUSE (#2) as soon as we stop for any length of time. This ensures you keep your starting batteries isolated and charged. I would try to avoid turning the batteries to off in case there is an emergency in the middle of the night and you need lights/power in a hurry. You don't want to be tripping over things to get the batteries back on.

Dang, 9 nights on the anchor!! I will take baby steps and start with a weekend and hope it goes well.

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4 hours ago, Iggy said:

Good point! Yes, at anchor your anchor light must be on. But if its LED, they use so little. On a mooring, there is no need for the anchor light to be on.  

I actually bought two 30' battery operated strips of LED lights to wrap around the railing. Each strip uses 3 AAA batteries. Very cheap purchase and should be good at light and even in the slip.

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We have anchored out on the bay a couple of nights this year. Like said before make sure you have a 360 for the anchor swing. We used the anchor alarm app on our phone. We also ran the generator all night with no problems plus let us have A/C

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This is a great topic for somebody like me because if I ever get the chance to stay overnight on the water I'd want to be safe and it's nice to see all this info, Auggie

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If you change your mind and run the genny all night, be sure you have one or (better) two carbon monoxide detectors. Especially on an older boat that you aren’t too familiar with. CO will kill you before you realize it isn’t present. Happens every year. 

Youre on the right track having someone meet you at the boat and going through things. I can’t believe the previous owner didn’t know he had battery switches! Y’all should be able to trace the cabling and determine how the batteries are plumbed in. It’s not uncommon to have only one house battery but most people with boats that large will have two or three batteries wired as “House”. I am unfamiliar with twin engine electrical systems, so don’t take my observations TOO literal. 

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14 minutes ago, TexasPilot71 said:

If you change your mind and run the genny all night, be sure you have one or (better) two carbon monoxide detectors. Especially on an older boat that you aren’t too familiar with. CO will kill you before you realize it isn’t present. Happens every year. 

Youre on the right track having someone meet you at the boat and going through things. I can’t believe the previous owner didn’t know he had battery switches! Y’all should be able to trace the cabling and determine how the batteries are plumbed in. It’s not uncommon to have only one house battery but most people with boats that large will have two or three batteries wired as “House”. I am unfamiliar with twin engine electrical systems, so don’t take my observations TOO literal. 

Yep, we already bought a new Carbon Monoxide detector and also using the one the previous owner had. When I originally asked him about the battery selector he said the boat didn't have one. After purchase and opening every door is when I found it. It isn't in the engine compartment, but right above it. Seems like an awkward spot for it, but I was glad to find it as the manual he gave me stated the boat had one. I will trace the battery cables this weekend and see which are which. I'm ready to meet my guy and go through things that the previous owner didn't use such as the water heater and fresh water system. I have a laundry list of questions for him and anxious to talk. 

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Lets get really honest about anchoring and going to sleep on a boat.  Night or daytime.  Makes no difference.

only safe way is with NO ENGINES RUNNING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Any engines running puts you at risk of death or brain damage...............

Gas poisoning. 

From wind .........Both speed and direction...........Using.front & rear anchors........closing windows to keep warmer or cooler.. Generator fumes CAN & DO CLIMB INTO A BOAT.. Fumes  can get sucked along side wall coverings or under floor paths.........   If some others anchor near you ?........... You kill them or they can kill you.

any or all the detectors fail in a silent manner......Who ever figured out a detector should only be high mounted ?  Never has dealt with cool C O  &  CO2  gases in a boat flooring system.......

 

Yeah yeah  All of us are not perfect on testing & and maintaining electrical equipment......... I sure am not.

If you can accept joining the people who die each year or causing others to die each year ?  Run any engines you want to while asleep. That includes drifting during daytime. While taking a quick nap.

When you are asleep ?  You are TOTALLY defenseless.   Accept that basic fact.

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