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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
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
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.