Anchor Down: How To Drop Anchor in the Indian River Lagoon

Part of the joy of boating is taking in the scenery, but as a captain you don’t often have the luxury of soaking up your surroundings as you’re operating your vessel. But, when you’re ready to relax, throw a cast, or explore one of the many spoiler islands in the Indian River Lagoon you’ll need to drop anchor. The art of anchoring is one that is learned over time with hard earned experience, and as a member of a premier boat club in Melbourne, Florida we’re sure you’re going to want to drop anchor and enjoy the Indian River often. Here are a few things you need to know when anchoring down.

Understanding your Anchor

Before you think about dropping anchor, you need to take an assessment of your surroundings. First and foremost your boat and the style of anchor aboard. This will determine where you can anchor, and how you will anchor. There are three major types of anchors you may encounter: fluke, plow, and mushroom. Because the rental boats available at 321 Boat Club are larger vessels, most are equipped with fluke anchors. The chain and rope that attaches the anchor to the boat is called the rode. Every rode for every boat is different so it’s important to understand if the one you choose on your boat rental is chain, rope, or a combination of both. The anatomy of an anchor is extremely important because it will determine how the anchor will set and keep your boat in place. Anchors are not just weights that sit idly at the bottom of the lagoon, they are blades that grip into the lagoon floor.


Determining and understanding scope is extremely important when you are learning to drop anchor. Scope is the amount of rode you let out relative to depth and other conditions. Too much scope and you’re not staying where you’d hoped. Not enough you run the risk of taking on water and even capsizing. You need to make sure that you let out enough rode that your anchor is pulled horizontally into the lagoon floor – this is what keeps you in place. Determining your scope depends on many things. Water depth, bottom type, boat design, current, wind, other vessels and weather conditions all play a part in calculating scope. For recreational boaters at 321 Boat Club this ratio can easily be remembered as 5 to 1. Take the depth of the water and add the distance from your boat cleat. Multiply this by five and that is how much rode, ideally, you should let out – all other factors considering. For example, the average depth of the Indian River Lagoon is four feet deep. The average distance from boat cleat to water is two feet for our fleet. Four plus two equals six. Six times five is 30. A safe scope to set anchor in a four-foot portion of the lagoon is 30 feet of rode. If your anchor does not set into the lagoon floor, you will need to bring it up and set it again. If you are uncomfortable with determining a scope it’s a great idea to ask one of our helpful staff members for advice, and motor on over to a calm and quiet area of the lagoon to practice. In no time you’ll be able to drop anchor, feel if it set, and determine your scope without thinking twice.

Other Factors to Take Into Consideration

The scope is the radius in which you will move when the current or wind takes you so you must take that into account when anchoring near other boats in windy conditions or when the current is strong and changing. It is best place to anchor is an area that is relatively sheltered from wind or a strong current. Take a look around and see how other boats are anchored and play copy cat. If they are only anchored at the bow, follow suit. If they are anchored at both bow and stern, do that as well, but never, ever anchor only at the stern. This mistake could sink your boat. Finally make sure you’ve got your bearings. Look around for reference points that you can check on frequently to determine if you are slipping and need to re-anchor. Especially if you plan to leave the boat for any reason.

Dropping Anchor

Now that you know how much rode to release, what your anchor should be doing, and what to look out for, it’s time to drop your anchor. Head out to a calm, unpopulated area and get practicing.

  1. Calculate your scope and prepare the rode at the bow of the boat. An organized rode will seamlessly follow the anchor without getting tangled.
  2. Pick a place up-wind and up-current from where you intend to float and slowly drop your anchor into the water until it hits the bottom. Do this with care so that the rode does not tangle in the anchor and prevent it from gripping into the bottom.
  3. Slowly motor back and let the anchor set. Ensure this happens by backing down on the anchor with engine in idle reverse after all the line has been let out.
  4. You can tell your anchor is set with a taut line that does not bounce and bump around.  
  5. Finally check every so often that you’re not dragging.

Anchoring is an ever-changing math equation that takes time and patience to master. With a 321 Boat Club membership you can practice all morning and take your family and friends out for an afternoon of anchored adventures like a pro. If you have any questions about how to anchor a particular boat in our fleet don’t hesitate to ask, we’re happy to help our Boat Club Members.