On the Water

Time And Tide

Illustration of the Rules of Twelves

The Rule of Twelfths can give you an idea of how much tidal range or current to expect during a given portion of the tide cycle. Fishermen love this because current and the bite go hand in hand. For semi-diurnal tides (six hours between high and low) the pattern is 1-2-3-3-2-1. That is, 1/12 of the total tidal range occurs in the first hour, 2/12 in the second and so on. In general, the strongest currents coincide with the largest water flow, which means the third and fourth hour after the tide turns. So if you had a 16-foot tide and it was the end of hour four, the current would be slowing and 9/12 of the water will have flowed. The water is now 12 feet above low, and high tide will be four feet above the current water level.

In The Weeds

If you get into shallow weed-infested water, your prop can get jumbled up with seaweed and limit your boat's handling performance. With the boat's forward motion stopped, engage the transmission into a power reverse, move back into forward, then back to reverse again. This helps release the vegetation from your prop.

Out Of Your Depth

If you have a spare depth sounder, put it to use. I have my second sounder's transducer mounted at the bow. The aft sounder is set to alarm at 10 to 25 feet depending on speed and waters. The forward sounder is set to alarm at 3 feet. The deep one signals a warning, and to slow down. The shallow one signals danger and reads 20 feet in front of my transom, alerting me before I drag my outdrive. Having two sounders saves the need to reset the alarm going from deep to shallow water.

Hand Signals

Figure out how to anchor without talking, and especially without yelling. Develop and practice hand signals that the person on the bow can use. Then, once you're anchored, give yourselves a big thumbs up!

Hour Hand

Need to know how much daylight you have left, but forgot your watch at home? Stretch out your arm, with your hand bent in, fingers parallel to the ground. Each hand width between the sun and the horizon is about an hour before the sun goes down. As it gets closer, each finger width is roughly 15 minutes until sunset.

Make Your Own Sand Anchor

If you don't have a second anchor, you can make a sand anchor out of an old pie pan and a long eye bolt. Simply drill a hole in the center of the pie pan big enough for the bolt, back it with a large washer and nut, and tie your stern line to the eye. Burying the pan a foot or two deep while angled toward the pull of the line will keep most boats in place, no problem.

Quick And Easy Rode Measurement

Photo of a boat anchor and wrench

Most people's arm span is roughly equivalent to their height. This means you can pull the same number of arm spans' worth of rode out of the anchor locker as the depth of the water, plus three or four for the distance from the bow to the water, and know you've got 5-to-1 scope (or 6 to 1 if you're tall!)

Anchor Lanyard

Boating or trailering, windlass or not, if you have an anchor resting on your bow pulpit, secure it. Anchors can get loose or a windlass can malfunction.

As a precaution, we always tie a lanyard to the anchor and secure the end to a cleat. 

— Published: Fall 2013


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