Archived Story

Boating Tips: Retrieving a secured anchor

Published 8:57pm Monday, June 23, 2014

No need to work hard to retrieve your anchor. First, position a person wearing a life jacket on the bow and slowly idle the boat forward as the person takes in the anchor rode. Don’t over run the anchor line, fowling the props. Stop when the boat is over the anchor and the line vertical.

Note: If you have a winch, do not use the winch to pull the boat over the anchor. Idle slowly to let the winch take in the slack line.

Usually, the person on the bow can simply pulls straight upon the anchor line, which will free the anchor from the bottom.

If the anchor doesn’t come free after several pulls, have the person cleat the anchor line. Idle the boat forward using its weight to pull upward freeing the anchor from the bottom.

Note: If you have a winch, never use the winch to secure the line when using the boat to free an anchor. Always cleat the line. A manufacturer-installed winch will have heavy backing to spread the load. Still, it is not as secure as the cleat backing. However, there is always that one person who does not cleat the line while powering the boat to free the anchor. Unfortunately, they leave their anchor and the winch on the bottom along with a hole in the deck. Cleat the anchor line!

I saw one situation where a boater in powering the anchor free bent the flukes wedged between rock layers. In water not too deep, most of us have seen someone dive on the anchor to free it. I’ve also seen an anchor bring up a buried cable.

There is light Danforth anchor with a mechanism that releases the stem from the flukes. This permits pulling the anchor backwards, freeing it. A down side of this anchor is unintentional tripping causing the anchor to become free – at the most importune time.

Some Bruce, Spade and Danforth anchors have an eye in the opposite end of the stem from the anchor. This eye is for securely attaching a retrieval line. When weighing anchor use this line because it pulls the anchor backward from the bottom versus upward with the anchor line.

I’ve also watched boaters attach a small fender to this line to mark their anchor. The white fender helps other boaters see the anchor line and prevent fowling a prop or cutting the line.

Before hauling the anchor into the boat, clean off debris and dirt by plunging it up and down in the water. If necessary, manually remove debris. Do the same for any debris on the line.

The devil is in the details; coil and secure the line for easy, untangled deployment at the next anchorage. Store the line where it can dry. Secure the anchor in or to the boat because an unsecured anchor is a danger to the boat and its occupants.

If you found my previous articles on trailering your boat of interest, the Pamlico Sail & Power Squadron is offering a free Trailering Seminar on July 19 from 9 a.m. to noon at Park Boat Company. To register for this seminar, email to We also invite you to go to our website for more local information on boating safety and education.

Biff Matthews is a member of Pamlico Sail & Power Squadron.

Editor's Picks

Pay raise proposal leaves too many questions

On April 5, Gov. Pat McCrory announced his proposal for an average 5-percent pay raise for teachers, as well as larger bonuses across the board, ... Read more

Higher expectations required

It’s time to vote again. Today represents a monumental day in which all citizens can exercise their right to vote. Many don’t. Primaries often have ... Read more