Being a relative new comer to Wilmington I am still shocked and slightly intimidated by the volume of people and boats that take to the water on and around holiday weekends. With the shifting sandbars, fast flowing tides, gusty wind conditions and more often than not busy anchorages, holiday weekend trips to the beach by boat can be stressful for even the experienced boater.
We all have our favourite anchorages that typically we would share with a handful of other boats on any other weekend of the year. Memorial and July 4th weekends are exceptions when popular anchorages and sandbar hangouts swell to form in some places one continuous raft of boats.
So, if you and your family fall into the ever expanding bracket of ‘new boat owners’, how do you make your arrival, stay and departure from the beach as stress free as possible?
1.) Anchor Size
Many boats fresh out of the factory and some that have been afloat for years have undersized anchors. My advice is to carry as big an anchor (within reason) as your anchor locker or forward storage locker allows.
The table below is a size guide for a traditional fluke anchor which is most common on inshore boats from 15 – 40′. Before replacing your existing anchor be sure to measure the width and depth of your anchor locker.


2.) Anchor Chain
It is a common misconception that the most important piece of equipment when it comes to anchoring is the anchor itself, this is not the case. The principle is straight forward, for an anchor to hold or bite it needs to be pulled horizontally along the bottom and not lifted. To achieve this we add a section of chain connected to the anchor before the rope.
How much chain? 2′ of chain for every 5′ of boat length. (the heavier the boat, the more chain)
For example, a 30′ boat should have around 6′ of chain.
(more is better than less!)

3.) Beach Arrival
When possible, timing your arrival at the beach can go along way to simplifying the anchoring procedure. By aiming for either low or high water you give yourself the opportunity to anchor and secure your boat with limited or no tidal flow. The tide is typically slack for around an hour at LW and HW.
The anchoring maneuver that you choose to execute on arrival at the beach or sandbar can be as difficult or straight forward as you want. The easiest arrival is the bow in approach and should go something like this:
– Assess tide, wind and other the position of other anchored boats
– Select a space with at least one boat length of width
– Approach with bow at 90 degrees to shoreline aiming for center of space (slack water)
– Approach at a finer angle facing into the tide if there is cross beach tidal flow
– Drop stern anchor roughly 2 boat lengths from beach and the ease anchor line keeping it clear of the engine (lower on the up tide side of boat)
– Slowly approach beach and raise engine(s)
– Gently rest bow on beach and pass bow anchor ashore
– Place bow anchor around 1 boat length in front of boat
– Adjust tensions in anchor lines to position boat in the shallows
– Continue to periodically adjust the boats position, especially on a falling tide

4.) Beach Departure
Typically the most straight forward way to depart the beach is to reverse the procedure that you followed upon arrival.
– Asses the tide and conditions so that you know which way the boat will move when you start to release your anchors
– Load passengers, dogs and beach gear making sure that there is enough water beneath the boat
– Check there is enough space for the boat to swing on just her stern anchor if needed
– Release and return the bow anchor back on board the boat
– Carefully lower the engine(s) and SLOWLY reverse in the direction of your stern anchor whilst retrieving the anchor rope
– Retrieve stern anchor, trim engine all the way down and continue out to deeper water
Beach maneuvers can be as complicated or a straight forward as you want them to be. Depending on the size boat you have don’t be afraid of arriving at the beach and resting the bow on the sand whilst you unload, even on a falling tide. Once you have unloaded, your boat will sit higher in the water and you SHOULD always been able to back away from the beach. If you feel comfortable and it is safe to do so you can throw your stern anchor into position by hand instead of deploying on your way into the beach.
There are dozens of techniques for anchoring at the beach and some you will find will just work for you and your family. The main key in my opinion is an awareness of the wind, tide and other conditions that will effect your boat during the process of anchoring and whilst at anchor.
For help, guidance, instruction or simply another pair of useful hands on the water, please don’t hesitate to reach out!!
Opinions stated are that of Tuna’s Marine Services. They by no means represent the finite way to complete this procedure. This document has been produced to act as guide and encourage discussion. Tuna’s Marine Services accepts no responsibility for damages or injuries incurred whilst practicing this maneuver.