Anchor carefully for a stable underwater environment


Whether you are stopping for lunch or sheltering from challenging weather conditions, anchoring is an inevitable part of boating. Unfortunately there is evidence that boaters can damage sensitive seafloor plants and animals, particularly seagrass.

There are several steps you can take to protect the seabed and avoid damage to your boat. The RYA and The Green Blue, its joint environmental awareness programme with British Marine, has worked with nature conservation organisations to develop tips for boaters.

Four steps to eco-friendly anchoring

  1. Choose an anchorage away from the most sensitive areas wherever possible�(away from seagrass, reefs, shellfish beds etc).
  2. Avoid dragging your anchor by using the appropriate length of chain and warp. The correct length can help to reduce scouring of the seabed. If your anchor is dragging, raise it and re-anchor and if it continues to drag, choose a different anchorage.
  3. Even if you think the anchor is holding well, check it periodically to make sure it is not dragging.
  4. Raise your anchor correctly when leaving by checking to see how the boat is lying. If the boat is pulling back away from the anchor, you may need to slowly motor towards it as the crew pulls in the slack and raises the anchor. Bring the anchor and line on-board, and stow it away ready for immediate redeployment.

What else can boaters do to help?

It is also important to plan your approach with care.

  1. Know your depth and draft - smaller craft can reach shallower areas.
  2. Check the tides - if in doubt slow down and use extra caution when boating on a low tide.
  3. If you run into a seagrass flat, you will leave a sediment trail behind your boat, making the water murky and probably cutting seagrass fronds or roots. Stop immediately and lift your engine. Paddle away until clear. Never use your engine to force your way through, it will damage the seagrass and your engine.
  4. If you run aground on seagrass, wait for the tide to lift you off again. Excessive use of the throttle will cause significant damage to the seagrass.

For more environmental good practice for boat users, clubs, centres and marine businesses visit or contact

What are eco moorings?

Mooring systems that can be described as �eco-friendly� are those that minimise the level of detrimental interaction with the seafloor and therefore the potential for damage to sensitive habitats. .

Find out more

The RYA has been involved with a range of projects to improve our understanding of the efficacy of eco-mooring systems to make sure we can have an educated view.

Phil Horton, RYA Environment and Sustainability Manager, says:

�The RYA is keen to learn more about developing technologies that could help to minimise the impact boating could have on the marine environment. While the safety of recreational boaters remains our primary concern, the protection of the marine environment is important to many of our members and it is essential that we can provide information to allow boaters to make educated choices.

"We are actively encouraging the boating community to contribute further input on eco-mooring experiences and trials, and any documentation, reports or papers. Visit for more information and to take part."