Anchoring a boat may seem like a fairly simple concept, but there are several factors that must be taken into account. Anchoring must be done safely so that the boat doesn’t drift or capsize. There are also regulations set forth by the Canadian government regarding acceptable anchorage locations and navigation lights.
Read on for a comprehensive guide to anchoring a boat safely and legally in Canada!
Before we get into the procedure for anchoring a boat, it’s important to understand the situations when a boat should be anchored.
Generally, vessels and pleasure crafts use anchorage areas in the following circumstances:
How long a boat stays at anchor can vary from a few hours to a few weeks depending on its reason for being anchored.
In Canada, vessels at anchor are regulated by the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Transport Canada enforces these regulations to limit the risk of accidents at anchor and make sure marine traffic flows smoothly.
Here are a few important aspects of anchoring regulations for vessels and pleasure crafts.
It is the captain’s responsibility to make sure the vessel stays safe, and that includes choosing a safe anchorage. Anchorage may be prohibited in some areas for safety reasons (due to the presence of submerged cables or pipes, for example) or to protect marine ecosystems. Otherwise, boats are generally free to anchor temporarily almost anywhere it is safe to do so. The right to anchor a vessel is part of the common law right of navigation. For longer-term use, there are anchorages that require payment or authorization.
For example, when a vessel enters a Canadian port, the Port Authority tells the captain where they can anchor and for how long. The decision is based on factors such as:
Boats that are anchored overnight must remain visible. The operator of a pleasure craft under 50 metres in length must display an all-around white light while at anchor overnight or in low visibility. When anchored in daylight, they should display a black ball.
A vessel under 7 metres in length that is at anchor overnight is not required to display a navigation light or device unless it is anchored in a narrow channel, a fairway often used by other vessels, or an anchorage near such places.
The equipment used to anchor a boat can include several components:
The length of chain, cable or rope that connects the anchor to the boat is called a rode. Large ships generally have two anchor rodes stored on board in a compartment called a chain locker.
There’s no need to be afraid of anchoring your boat. With an understanding of the proper procedure and good technique, anyone can do it. Just keep the safety and legal considerations in mind!
If you’re looking for more tips on boating safety or basic maneuvers, the National Boating Safety School is a great resource. Our boating safety manual is a useful tool for new boaters and those who want to review before taking their boating exam online.