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Where Should You Avoid Anchoring Your Boat? & Why?

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

where should you avoid anchoring your boat

Where should you avoid anchoring your boat? Knowing the proper technique to anchoring is one thing, but before heading out to the water, you should also be aware of places where anchoring is forbidden, including lee shores, fairways, channels, etc.

Today’s article includes a list of places to leave behind when choosing an anchorage, whether it’s an overnight stay or just a short stop. Stay tuned!

List of Places You Should Avoid Anchoring Your Boat

Find below places that should be avoided when anchoring a boat.


  • Lee shore
  • Fairways
  • Channels
  • Restricted areas
  • Prohibited areas
  • Areas with underwater hazards


1. Lee shore


Lee shores are where the wind is blowing onto shore from the water. Anchoring at a lee shore poses potential hazards, as small and midsize boats could be blown toward the land if the anchor drags, possibly leading to grounding and wreckage.

2. Prohibited/restricted areas


Avoid paying hefty fines by doing some research on the area you’re heading to. There are several locations that strictly forbid anchoring, i.e. mussel beds, seagrass beds, coral reefs, etc.

Dropping your anchor in these areas will not only damage the marine ecosystem, but there is also a high chance of you wrecking your anchor. Usually, there will be signs or coast guard alerts to indicate the no-anchor zones.

If you see yourself in a situation where you have to stop and secure the vessel in place, use mooring instead of anchoring. Otherwise, it’s best to have your vessel stationed and secured in a shielded area.

3. Fairways/channels


One of the taboos when choosing a place for anchorage is to anchor in navigation lanes like fairways and channels. In these areas, vessels constantly make their way in and out, so it’s important to keep a certain distance from them to avoid a collision.

Besides, you should stay away from high-traffic areas like beach shorelines or busy marinas. To ensure safe anchorage, make sure to keep a safe distance from other vessels as they can drift or bump into each other, causing disturbance for not only you but also other boaters.

4. Areas with underwater hazards


Try to examine the area you’ll be anchoring in to ensure there are no underwater hazards like rocks, pipes, or wrecks. The chance of you bumping into a sunken ship is low, but never zero.

Even if there is no debris or obstructions in sight, make sure to avoid sea beds with mud and sand if your anchor is small, plus weedy areas.

Things to Consider Before Anchoring a Boat

When choosing an area to anchor your vessel, which of the following should you do when anchoring? Consider these factors.


  • Choosing a safe spot to anchor – Prioritize locations with a shelter to protect your boat from outer elements (blustery winds, strong currents, etc.), especially if you intend to stay overnight.

Also, be aware of the water level. Some areas look like they make a good anchoring spot until the water recedes and your boat is left aground. The anchor spot should have a depth three times that of your vessel.

  • Choosing the right type of anchor – Choose an anchor that works with the seabed in which the anchor is set. Ideally, you’ll want to find a flat surface that provides a firm grip.

The list below includes several types of anchors and the seabeds they work best on.

    • Fisherman’s – Densely weeded or rocky seabeds
    • Plow/CQR – Muddy and sandy seabeds
    • Delta – Muddy and sandy seabeds
    • Bruce – Muddy, sandy, and rocky seabeds
    • Danforth – Works for most seabeds
  • Be mindful of the weather – It’s a good idea to factor short-term and long-term weather forecasts into your preparation before heading out to the water. However, even if you did do so, it only takes a wind shift to make your trip a nightmare.

Ask yourself these questions: If the weather turned bad, would I be able to take up the reins? Additionally, would there be enough scope for my vessel?

If you don’t know, the general rule is to have seven feet of anchor line for every foot of water depth and to check your boat regularly if you’re staying somewhere overnight.

Unless you are familiar with anchoring in rough weather, you’ll most likely get yourself in trouble.

Frequently Asked Questions


Which Part Of The Boat Should You Lower The Anchor Line?

Which side of the vessel should you never anchor? Unless you’re double anchoring, avoid the stern because the major danger of anchoring a fishing boat from the stern is that the boat will lose balance and swamp.

If so, the vessel should be anchored from which section, you may wonder. Always start from the bow; there is no exception.

It’s important to use the proper technique for anchoring a boat, as well as know basic boat anchoring rules before heading out to the water, such as using lights for visibility when anchoring at night.

What Does ‘Short Haul’ Mean?

‘Short haul’ is a boating term used to refer to the method of hauling the anchor line until the vessel is directly above it. Crew members perform the technique when they want to ensure that the anchor is still stationed properly or inspect signs of wrecks on the anchor and all parts attached to it.


Choosing a safe anchoring location is just as important as carrying out the proper technique for anchoring. Where should you avoid anchoring your boat? By now, the answer must be as clear as day!

Besides the location, it’s essential to keep precautions in mind for a safe and successful anchorage. Consider the water depths and bottom conditions to pick a spot accordingly. And don’t overlook the weather.

Have fun boating!

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