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Learning to Set and Retrieve an Anchor Is an Important Safe Boating Skill

Follow these easy tips to avoid common anchoring mistakes.
Boating Safety

5. Weighing Anchor
Once you’ve set the anchor, pulling it up or “weighing anchor” should be easy.   Still, proceed with care and wear your life jacket during any anchoring evolution. The combination of anchor pull, current and weight can sometimes swamp a small boat. Lift the anchor as vertically as possible and be careful that it doesn’t hit the side of the boat. Wash the anchor of mud and debris as you lift it.

Know which anchor you’ll need…

There are anchors for every type of bottom and purpose: for rocks and heavy grasses, sand and mud, and for permanent moorings.  When deciding which is right for your boat, consider the type and weight of your vessel, the average depth of the water, the strength of the wind and/or current, the diameter of the anchor line and, most important, the bottom characteristics in the area you are boating.


Common Types of Anchors:  The Danforth anchor (A) is lightweight and holds well in mud and sand, as well as rocky bottoms, if set carefully.  Many recreational boaters prefer the Plow anchor (B) because it demonstrates superior holding on most bottoms, including grass and weeds.  The Plow does not hold well on rocky bottoms, however. The Mushroom anchor (C) buries well and holds best in sand or mud, but may be difficult to retrieve. It is often used for anchoring mooring buoys. The Bruce or claw anchor (D) was developed originally for offshore oil and gas drilling rigs.  It’s a good burying type and holds well in sandy bottoms and mud. The Navy or Admiralty type (E) is an old reliable and familiar to most people, but can be awkward to stow on board.  The Grapnel (F) is small and easy to stow, which makes it a frequent choice for small vessels and open boats.  The flukes are not particularly strong, however. 

….and how much line

boating safety

Calculate the amount of anchor line you will need to let out. The general rule is five to seven times as much line as the depth of water plus the distance from the surface of the water to where the anchor will attach to the bow.

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The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include: wearing a life jacket at all times and requiring passengers to do the same; never boating under the influence (BUI); successfully completing a boating safety course; and getting a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons(r), or your state boating agency's Vessel Examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to "Boat Responsibly!" For more tips on boating safety, visit

Dano (not verified)
Feb 2, 2012

How do people anchor in deep water. Like 100 feet or more? Seems like at the 7 to 10 ratio that would be a lot of rope.

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