Safety update

April 1999 Anchor watches on fishing vessels

This safety update is for owners and skippers of fishing vessels. It is issued to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining a continuous anchor watch. It provides safe practice tips for how best to reduce the risks involved and to alert people to the risk to safety associated with anchor watches.


Two recent accidents, one of which led to the death of three persons, highlight the need for skippers of fishing vessels to ensure that they choose a safe anchorage and maintain proper anchor watches.

Safe practice tips

When selecting a place to anchor the skipper should take the following factors into account:

  • The nature of the sea bed.
  • The shelter that it gives from the prevailing wind.
  • The forecast weather for the period the vessel will lie at anchor, which may leave the vessel on a lee shore.
  • The proximity to dangers. e.g. other vessels, submerged rocks, wrecks, etc.

Maritime New Zealand reminds owners and skippers of the need to maintain a continuous anchor watch. To accomplish this it is suggested that all crew members are trained in the operation of navigational equipment so that they can check the position of the vessel at regular intervals while at anchor. Use should be made of the proximity alarms on radar, GPS, track plotter and echo sounder units, to assist crew members to ensure the vessel is maintaining position.

In addition skippers should ensure that crew members are aware of the action they should take if it appears the vessel is not maintaining the anchorage position.

Original source content - Boat Notice 011999, April: Anchor watches on fishing vessels.

Email updates

Get an email notification when a safety update is available online.


Contact us for more help

If you have any questions about this safety bulletin, please contact our Wellington office.


New Zealand (toll free):
0508 225 522

Call Maritime New Zealand now

Tell us what you need help with and remember to include your contact details (email address and phone numbers).