Remember, an anchor is more than just something to hold you in place while the kids take a dip. It can be a life-saver if you get caught out in heavy weather and are in danger of being blown into a treacherous shore or reef.

Don’t forget to tie off the bitter end of your anchor rode before lowering the anchor. There are already plenty of anchors on the bottom. It’s better that you keep it with the boat.

Choose an anchor for the size and type of your boat, and the type of bottom you’ll be operating in most of the time.

When anchoring, don’t wind up and fling the anchor into the water. Lower it slowly to the bottom, and then let your boat drift or power back slowly to set the anchor. You need at least five feet of anchor line (rode) for every foot of distance from your deck to the sea floor. In a wind or waves, you should have a 7:1 ratio, or scope, of anchor line to depth of water. In other words, in 30 feet of water, you’ll need at least 210 feet of line to safely anchor. Never anchor only from the stern. If a stern anchor is deemed advisable, for example in an area where swing is limited, then anchor from the stern only after a bow anchor has been firmly set, and then keep a close watch for changing wind direction. A wind off the stern can cause waves to break over the transom and swamp the boat.

If you’re anchoring in for the night, be sure and show your anchor light. Check to make sure you have adequate room to swing around your anchor if the wind should change.

When your anchor is set and the boat has steadied on the anchor, eyeball a spot in the distance relative to something close to you on the boat. For example, standing in a certain spot, look across one particular cleat toward a signal tower on shore. Then check that same relative position 15 minutes later. If they no longer line up, and you can’t attribute the difference to normal boat swing, you’re probably adrift.

Store your ground tackle (anchor, rode, chain) where its fairly accessible. In an emergency, you’ll be glad you’re able to get to it quickly.