Anchoring; The gear 

The anchor is also a great defensive strategy should you get into difficulty, as it can be chucked over the side near shore to reduce or stop your drift in case of power failure.


Scope is the amount of chain or warp let into the water. The amount of scope depends on the depth of water and whether chain or warp is used. Chain or warp is often referred to as cable.


Check the depth and tidal range. Use a scope of anchor cable of at least 4 x the depth for chain and 6 x for rope/chain combinations.

If warp is used, ensure 5-10m of chain is connected between anchor and warp. The chain acts as a cushion, helping to reduce the action of the boat pulling the anchor free.

An anchor works best when the pull from the boat is closest to horizontal, so that the pull is digging the anchor in. The golden rule of anchoring is; if in doubt, let more cable out.

Anchoring kit


Good holding to weight ratio – self stows on some bow roller systems. Can be awkward to stow in small anchor lockers.


Good holding to weight ratio – self-launches and self stows. Awkward to stow in small locker.


Good holding to weight ratio in straight-line pull, however may break out and not relocate if pulled from another direction. Can be difficult to handle because of moving parts. Stows flat.


Good holding to weight ratio – relocates well. If stowed on bow, moving parts may need securing.


Good holding in rock and weed but poor holding in sand and mud. Require 30% heavier fisherman's type anchor than other anchor types.

How it's connected

The cable is usually shackled to the anchor at one end and then connected by rope to an eye in the boat so that if the anchor is inadvertently let drop, the whole cable will not simply run-out and drop over the side. The permanent connection to the boat should be a knot that can be easily undone under pressure, just in case you need to ditch the anchor and cable quickly in an emergency.

Some boats have an electric windlass that can lower or raise the anchor. Electric windlasses take a lot of power and should only be operated when the engine is running. Check that the circuit breaker and a power switch is switched on.

Foot switches on the bow or up/down switches at the helm station operate the windlass.

Foot switches

When there is no windlass, the cable may need to be pulled out of the anchor locker and flaked on the deck so that it will not snag when dropping the anchor. Ensure the cable is cleated-off before the anchor is lowered. Take care to check that the chain leading to the anchor locker is on top of the cleat so that it can be undone under load.

Bow roller
Optional tripping

Compiled and edited by Simon Jinks - RYA Yachtmaster™ Examiner and Journalist

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Article Published: January 26, 2011 13:54

Article Updated: August 15, 2013 12:20


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