What we need as an anchor

By Abhi in Daily Musings
Updated 17:03 IST Jun 04, 2022

Views » 488 | 5 min read

Imagine holding a child’s hand. In an outstretched manner. The child would want to happily circle around you, while you swivel around your own position. If you were to pull the child closer to you, the swing circle would now be a bit smaller, while the child continues to circle around you. And vice-versa.

This is exactly what an anchor and its chain does to a ship.

For a ship at anchor, normally (and without getting too technical), the flukes of the anchor are embedded into the sea bed. The anchor is attached to a huge chain of links which in turn provides as a link between the anchor and the ship. There’s about 250-400 meters of chain attached to an Anchor depending on the size of the ship. This chain can be paid out, or hauled in, according to the conditions prevailing at the time.

“I’m the Anchor to his/her life!” I’m sure most of us have come across this phrase more than a few times, given the social media driven world that we`re living in. What does it really mean to be an anchor to someone else?! And is the other person just supposed to go on operating just because he/she is now “anchored”?

Contrary to the very popular belief of the ship staying in its position because the anchor is on the seabed, it is the weight of the chain (or known as the “cable”) that is holding onto the ship, and consequently giving it direction. And not the anchor on its own. If this cable is too short, or too tight, the anchor will barely be rooted on/into the sea bed. This will cause the anchor to drag, and consequently, the ship to move away from its intended position. If the Anchor cable is too long, the circle would drastically increase (like in the child’s case), thereby increasing the risk of coming very close to the other ships anchored in the vicinity.

Another noteworthy fact is that “tides” at sea cause something called as tidal currents. To put it simply, High tide is when the water level will rise, and low tide is when the water level will fall. This vertical movement of water gives rise to water movement along the surface. This is called tidal currents. Current is the direction of the flow of water. A ship at Anchor will normally head into the current. This means, that when the flow of water in a sea area is from the north to the south, the ships head will be north. 

There is a brief period in time when the high water (or high tide) ends and the low water is just about to begin (but has not yet begun). This time period is said not to have any tide, or, as mariners would refer to it, “slack tide”. During slack tide, there is absolutely no weight on the anchor cable of a ship at anchor. When the tide changes, the ship will start to swing and head into another direction. (into the current). When the tide is at its maximum, the cable is tight, having a lot of weight on it. But long enough to hold on to both, the anchor as well as the ship. This becomes even more difficult when the wind picks up at the same time. But, if all this is anticipated beforehand, and enough cable is paid out, the cable will still be strong enough to hold on to the anchor.

THIS moment right here, when the weather deteriorates, currents are heavy, and there are other ships in close vicinity, is the true purpose of the cable more than the anchor of the ship. And yet, the cable, tight as ever, manages to hold onto ships with heavy weights on them. Sometimes with ships rolling to either side because of the movement of water, the cable remains outstretched, never letting go. During slack tide, and almost no winds, when everything appears calm, the cable and the Anchor play very little role in positioning.  This, quite literally, is applicable to ALL ships. Regardless of their age, size, or condition.


When we assume the role of being an “anchor” in another person’s life, it would be safe to pay attention to the cable, more than us (assuming the role of an Anchor). A very short cable could mean dominance perhaps. A bit like putting someone on a tight leash! Here, the ship will eventually drag in difficult times. Because, well, the “anchor” itself has dragged! A very loose and unnecessarily long cable could mean more room for tolerance.

Letting go when difficult times arise, is not serving the purpose of us being an anchor to the other person. Could we then, pay out some more cable to hold on stronger? Could we then pull the ship closer once the deterioration subsides? Could we pay out enough “cable” for the other person to show minimum dominance and just the right amount of tolerance? And as the ship is also able to use its engine at times to haul the cable in, or to adjust the length of the cable, can we at either end of the cable take a small step to adjust the weight on the cable?

No matter what we see ourselves as, anchors perhaps for someone else, or ships in dire need of an anchor. We really do need to pay more attention to the cable. For the cable is the only link which will bear the burden, give direction, and help hold on to as long as the ship operates!



It is the cable that is holding onto the ship at anchor.

It is the cable that gives direction to a ship at anchor.

It is the cable that decides how the ship will behave at anchor.

It is the cable that will shelter the ship at anchor.

The trick, perhaps, lies in paying all attention to the cable!


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Kalamwali 04-Jun-2022 22:55

Such a profound learning from such specific observations. Phenomenal anecdote!

Abhi 04-Jun-2022 23:17

Kind words! Thank you!

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