Having spent many nights at anchor in various bays, we have had endless entertainment watching newcomers anchoring and probably have provided plenty ourselves. Once you get to the Caribbean anchoring becomes very important and many people have spent their previous cruising lives in marinas or using lazy lines, so the art of anchoring really is a myth.
It seems that cruisers of different nationalities have their own methods of anchoring. The French for instance come straight into the anchorage at high speed, head for a spot much too close to neighbouring boats, they are usually single handed or the wife is sitting in the cockpit reading and making no attempt to move. The skipper then saunters onto the bow smoking a roll-up, nonchalantly throws the anchor overboard, waits until a large pile of chain is on the seabed, flicks his cigarette overboard and goes below for the night. All the boats surrounding him then spend the night wondering where he will end up.
The British do everything by the book, slowly come into the bay, circling around to check the depths and how other boats are lying. Often the wife is on the bow, using hand signals to indicate the best spot, they stop the boat, lower the anchor to the sea bed and slowly pay the chain out whilst motoring very slowly astern. They let out chain to the length of 4 times the expected depth of water and once the boat is settled into position they go hard astern to dig the anchor in. They then put the anchor ball up and stay in the cockpit to take bearings and keep watch for ages.
The Canadians do much the same but seem to let out 5 to 6 times the length of chain, so you need to bear that in mind when anchoring next to them. The Americans make a lot of noise, shout and argue about the best position, don’t seem to dig the anchor in but once they finally think all is well, they go around the boat congratulating one another giving high 5s. Not sure what the Germans do as they pick a spot miles from everyone else.
Some British do let the side down, most often with a bumptious skipper who either can’t trust his crew or hasn’t trained them and tries to do everything himself. We watched one boat come in to pick up a mooring buoy and the skipper went far too fast at it, giving his wife no hope of holding it, so he ran up to berate her before trying to grab it on the side of the boat, doing a 360 degree spin but not letting go.
Novice bareboat charterers are a law unto themselves. They like to take a spot upwind of everybody, have at least 5 people crowded around the bow, often nobody at the helm and put out just enough chain so the anchor touches the bottom but whilst still motoring at 4 knots. They stop the boat, retire for the rum punches and then realise they are dragging through the anchorage and try again. Eventually they do learn but it pays to expect the worst if they anchor near you.