Sailing ABC A is for Anchor – Anchoring XI

Under the U.S. Inland Navigation Rule 20 [c] and 20 [d] anchored vessels more than 23 ft. in length are required to display appropriate lights and shapes where they can best be seen to avoid collisions.

From sunset to sunrise, or in restricted visibility, they must display a white light that is visible in all directions. During the day they must display a black ball day shape, unless anchored in a designated “Special Anchorage Area”.

My friend Salty Clay says that the white anchor light on top of the mast is a common sight in an anchorage. But how many mariners hoist their black ball day shape in anchorages or mooring fields? Not that many.

He also points out that a “Special Anchorage Area” is not just the spot shown on the chart labeled “Anchorage”. It is an area specifically designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security. Not many such special places exist. They can be looked up in The Code of Federal Regulations. Title 33 “Navigation and Navigable Waters.” Part 110. “Anchorage Regulations” at



This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sailing ABC A is for Anchor – Anchoring XI

  1. Peter Detwiler says:

    Marianne: Thanks for another good anchoring tip. Can you ask your pal “Salty Clay” if there are any designated Special Anchorage Areas around San Francisco Bay? San Pablo Bay? Knowing them will help TSWC skippers. Grateful! Peter Detwiler

    • Marianne Wheeler says:

      Thanks for the inquiry, Peter.

      Salty says, he can only find one entry in the Special Anchorages Areas in the CFR’s for San Francisco Bay. It is Paragraph 11o.126a
      “Richardson Bay Anchorage. That portion of Richardson Bay, north of a line bearing 257 degrees from Peninsula Point to the shore at Sausalito, except for federally-maintained channels, and all channels approved for private use therein.
      Note: Mariners anchoring in the special anchorage area should consult applicable ordinances of the Richardson Bay Regional Agency and the County of Marin . . .”

      Again, the site is Code of Fed. Reg, Title 33 Navigation and Navigable Waters Part 110 Anchorage Regulations.

      And, to be safe, it is better to be seen, than not, in restricted visibility with the anchor light on.

      Hope this helps, happy anchoring,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *