Anchoring With Two Anchors – The Bahamian Moor

The Bahamian Moor, is not some kind of Arab living it up joyfully in the Bahamas…

It is a method of securing your boat by laying to 2 anchors, in such a way that your swinging circle is dramatically reduced. Technically this is called mooring. It is extremely useful if you are anchored in narrow tidal gutways, as it lessens the chance of you being deposited on the mud as the tide turns and your boat swings while at anchor.

The manoeuvre is commenced by dropping one anchor in the usual manner. The boat is nudged forward into the tide, the anchor is let go, and the boat falls back, driven by the tide. The usual amount of scope is let out and the anchor allowed to bite in the normal way.

Further scope is then paid out and the boat allowed to fall much further back than usual from her first anchor. The amount of extra scope paid out needs to match the amount of scope the second anchor you are deploying will require.

For example, the maximum depth of water you expect to encounter is 5 m… you drop your main anchor with chain and let out 15 m (3*5)…. at this point you dig in your main anchor. The second anchor you are using has 3 m of chain followed by rope. Therefore this will need a minimum of 25 m scope (5*5).

You pay out at least another 25 m of chain, (maybe more), and let the boat settle back on this. Next you deploy your second anchor (Best flung as far as possible from the stern of the boat), and start winding in on your main anchor. Alternatively you can motor forward slowly pulling in your main anchor chain as you go, and releasing warp for your second anchor at the same time (being very careful not to get it fouled around your propellor). The warp for the second anchor can be deployed from the cockpit if required.

If you keep some tension on the warp for the second anchor as you move forwards (into the tide) it will eventually dig in and set.

Once you are certain both anchors have dug in, it is a matter of centralising yourself up between the two, remembering to leave extra scope for the anchor with the rope, and less scope required for the all chain anchor.

It is normal to have both anchors secured at the bows, so the boat can turn to face whatever forces are acting on it.

When the tide turns you will lay to anchor number two, and when it turns again to anchor number one. Your swinging circle is limited by how tightly you have pulled up the scopes of your two anchors. The more slack you allow the larger the circle. On the other hand at high water there must always be some slack allowed, thus at low water there will be somewhat more slack.

When it’s time to go the anchor doing the work is always the last to be retrieved. More scope is paid out on this working anchor until the non working anchor can be retrieved. The working anchor is recovered in the usual fashion.

Uses for the Bahamian Moor:

Anchoring in narrow tidal gutways, where you need to keep centralised to remain afloat. A good example is maybe within Newtown Creek, Isle of Wight.

Anchoring in very tight crowded conditions, where there is not enough room to swing properly… for example near moorings.

Certain boats have a bad habit of sailing around at anchor, trying to tug themselves out, first on one tack and then on the other. The Bahamian Moor soon tames these naughty little puppies…. whichever way they tug they can’t go far and are just digging your anchors in deeper.

One of the greatest advantages is that the strain on the anchors never changes by more than 90 degrees or so, thus one of the greatest problems connected with anchoring is eliminated…. that dodgy time where the strain on the anchor changes 180 degrees and it can often be ripped out and have to reset itself (hopefully).

Problems with the Bahamian Moor:

More trouble to set up than simply anchoring.

When the tide turns and the boat swings, the two anchor rodes always twist up together. This need to constantly be kept on top of or you will end up with a complete tangle.

Others come and anchor too close, not realising you only have a very small swinging circle. If you’re on board this can often be remedied by paying out more scope on one or other of the anchors.

When a strong force eg. a good blow, arrives from the side as opposed to fore or aft it can put unfair strain on your anchors. Providing you have plenty of deepwater behind you this can be turned to your advantage by paying out more and more cable on both of your anchors. Eventually there will come a point where both anchors are ahead of your boat, with the angle between them being less than 45 degrees or so. You will have far more holding power than just one anchor, and you can increase this holding power by paying out more scope on both anchors until the angle between them reduces to 25 degrees. At this point, their holding power will be at its maximum. This is a proven method of storm force anchoring, and providing you have enough chain and rope the Bahamian Moor can be morphed very successfully and quickly into a storm mooring.


For those who live on their boats and prefer not to frequent marinas, the Bahamian Moor is definitely worth perfecting. It means you can leave your boat without so much worry, knowing it’s hanging on two anchors (we’re talking hours rather than days here). For those with a third anchor on board (plus chain and rope), the Bahamian Moor can easily be converted into a 3 point mooring, but will probably need quite a bit more work to avoid a dreadful tangle …. (lowering cables to the seabed, a swivel, and a riser chain). It all depends how long you are likely to remain in the one spot…


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