Houseboat Anchoring

 

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There's one thing that can absolutely ruin a perfectly good houseboat vacation, lack of good anchoring.  In a matter of second thousands of dollars of equipment can be ruined and potentially bodily injury can occur, simply because you didn't set the houseboat anchors properly.  Wind storms happen, and insufficient anchoring is an accident waiting to happen.  Even the best set anchors can let loose, so it's very important to always do your best to set your anchors as best possible.  This page will provide some tips and advice to help minimize this risk.  As the captain of your houseboat it's your responsibility to keep your boat safe and secure.

We always recommend spending your vacation at ONE camping location for the entire week, avoiding multiple houseboat anchor settings.   Setting anchors can be tiring, a sweaty job on a hot summer day, so doing it once a day isn't a good idea.  After the 2nd time you'll naturally start getting sloppy, slacking off, taking short cuts, not burying the anchors correctly.  This can put everyone at risk.  Inevitably there will be a 70mph wind come up when you least expect it, and if your shore lines don't hold, chaos is next.  Trust us, you don't want chaos on vacation. 

Plan to setup camp ONCE, and spent extra time setting your anchors as best possible.  Search for a campsite that's up a canyon away from the main channel, at least 2 turns up a canyon.  DON'T EVER moor your houseboat on a beach that's directly exposed to the main channel.  Don't be tempted by the clean sandy beach with a beautiful view of the main channel.  ALWAYS tuck yourself back in a canyon with maximum protection from wind.  Use a ski-boat or PWC to scout out your campsite.

Be aware of rising or receding water of your lake.  If water levels are rising make sure to tighten up your shorelines every day.  You can see them loosen as water rises.  That's a hint, get-r-done and tighten them up.  And make sure you reset the front of the boat on short, running it up enough on the sand so the boat bow can't float to the side. If the shorelines are tightened every day, you should be OK.

Always secure the center of the houseboat with a stake.  This is extra insurance to keep the front of the boat from breaking loose in case you forget to tighten the shorelines in rising  waters.

In receding waters you will see the shoreline tighten up.  Don't let this go unchecked.   Loosen the lines and make sure you power the boat offshore, then re-secure the houseboat.  This alleviates your houseboat from getting stuck high and dry onshore.  This can easily happen toward the end of the season when waters often recede rather fast, up to a foot a day!

TIP:  If you get stuck onshore, DO NOT try to back the boat up straight to the rear with full throttle.  With shorelines untied and on deck, turn the helm full right and give it about half throttle until the boat aft swings over to the right.  Then do the same to the left.  Several of the left and right maneuvers should pull you off-shore.  Take your time, don't hit any rocks as you swing left and right, use spotters to guide you.

The above Danford style anchor is the best defense against wind and storms.  If properly set you will be secure in most all winds.  Notice the "backup stakes" (car axles painted pink on top).  Ideally these are made of car axles with the bearings and studs removed.  They work great as backup stakes in conjunction with Danford anchors. 

First, make sure you get the anchor buried on the beach at least 4ft above shoreline.  If you dig down and hit water, go farther up shore to drier but damp sand.  

Anchors come in different sizes.  If you have 44# anchors, great.  Place the 44's to the outside, farthest away from the houseboat, pointing the shank to the REAR cleat of the houseboat.  Use the lighter 22# anchors next, unless you have more 44# units.

 

The above is the MINIMUM you should bury the anchor.  With stakes on the anchor ears this can work, but it's really not good enough. We highly suggest you work more and dig a deeper hole to bury the anchor properly. 

Below is how your anchors should look.  The anchor shank should be pointing to the target cleat on the houseboat.  Alignment of the shank toward the cleat is important, make sure it's set correctly BEFORE it's buried with sand.  Once buried, then drive in the backup stakes, preferably car axles.

 

If you can find a beach with big bushes, GREAT.  They work awesome for anchors.  Nothing holds better than a big pucker bush onshore to hold a houseboat.  Use the technique below to secure your shoreline.  DO NOT depend on the bush alone to hold the houseboat, make sure you still bury the anchor and use backup stakes, as depicted.