Procedure for Weighing a Stuck Anchor

Classic Parker Boat Forum

Help Support Classic Parker Boat Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Gimme Shelter

Active member
Mar 25, 2006
Reaction score
Palm Harbor, FL
Interesting that there's not a lot of info on a google search for this topic..

I went fishing yesterday all over the Gulf of Mexico and caught one keeper add "insult to injury" my anchor got stuck at the last spot.

We tried running the boat in the opposite direction ( stressing the pulpit ) and running the boat in circles to no avail. I was really concerned about the stress on the pulpit and strongly considering cutting the line.

I told the crew we would try one more thing before bringing out the knife>

I took the line from outside the pulpit roller/boat and ran to the rear port cleat. I let out enough line to turn the bow in the opposite direction and gave it slow throttle..the anchor came loose but not without a lot of stress that the cleat would break or damage the boat.

This is a long story to a short question...what do you do when the anchor is stuck? I've heard of trip lines attached to line at all times but was hoping there are other alternatives.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions..

The easiest remedy I know of is an anchor retriever. They are an inflated round fender buoy attached to a snap ring (4" - 6" diameter) by a short line - maybe 18" long. Run or snap the anchor line through the ring, toss the retriever overboard, and idle in a circle out near the end of the anchor rode...The retriever will submerge, and apparently get a different angle of attack on the stuck anchor and loosen it, then will float it to the surface for easy retrieval. Everyone I know who has tried one swears by them and everyone I know who hasn't, doesn't believe they can possibly work. I was one of the latter but now I'm one of the former and I won't go out bottom fishing without one.

There are other methods, like permanently attaching the anchor line to the base of the anchor and then using a break-away line of some sort on the end of the anchor shaft, so with a moderate amount of pressure the break-away line is parted and you are pulling the anchor backwards out of the obstruction by the flukes rather than into it, but for all purposes I like the retriever best.
The article below will give you an idea for rigging your anchor as well as launching and retrieving it.


Anchors Away

By Captain Ed Noll

Setting and retrieving an anchor can be a real chore--even a hazardous one--but many types of fishing require it. Moving up to the bow of a small boat with a cuddy cabin to drop or retrieve and anchor can be a challenge on a calm day, but in a chop, it can be plain dangerous.

Most gunwale walkways are narrow and obstructed with radio, loran and GPS antennas. I've watched dozens of near mishaps and a number of wet fishermen return to the safety and protection of the cockpit. I fish by myself and have no desire to walk the plank to the bow, especially at night.

Anchors that are hung on a hidden rock, wreck or obstruction can be hazardous, or at the least, costly. I've seen engines churn, pulpits crack, bows dip deep and tempers flare. I've lost my share of anchors and enough line to fill even the largest anchor locker. But there's an easy way to rig your boat and your anchor to make setting and retrieving it a safe and simple operation.

Rigging Your Anchor

On a standard danforth or fortress type anchor, drill a hole in the blade end of the anchor shank and attach a screw anchor shackle. On other types of anchors, find a suitable means to attach the shackle below the anchor blades. Splice the bitter end of the anchor line to the shackle using a rope thimble.

Next, lay the line along the length of the anchor shank and chain and measure off about 18 inches of line above the point where the chain ends. Tie a simple overhand knot in the anchor line and attach a screw anchor shackle.

Tie the end of the anchor chain to the shackle with a couple of lengths of cod line or similar material with a high enough pound test to hold your boat, but still weak enough to break away if you power the boat against a set anchor. I use four lengths of 40-pound cod line (160 pounds total breaking strength) for my six-ton Brendon Express. It breaks easily when the boat is under power, but it's never broken under the strain of normal wind and tide.

From the drawing you can see that with the anchor set and the breakaway cord intact, the anchor line runs from the boat to the anchor chain. If the anchor were hung up on some obstruction or in the rocks, it can be freed by motoring up current with sufficient power to break the cord between the anchor line and the chain. The line then runs from the boat to the anchor foot and is easily retrieved by pulling it out backwards.

Rigging Your Boat

Make a spring line by splicing a loop in both ends of a line that's long enough to go from your bow cleat through the bow chock to your cockpit. Add about three feet to allow room to work the line in your cockpit. However, keep the line short enough so it can't reach your engine's propeller. Load your anchor and anchor line, breakaway rigged as described above, in a suitable container and stow it in the cockpit or cabin where it's easily and readily accessible.

Setting Your Anchor

When you're ready to drop the anchor, position the boat so it will drift at about a 45-degree angle to the current. Drop the anchor from your cockpit over the up current side. You can either hold the line until the anchor sets and then throw out a few extra feet, or just feed out what you need for a good scope.

With the anchor line still slack, tie it off on the spring line with two overhand knots. Continue to feed out the anchor line until the spring line is holding the anchor from the bow cleat. Secure the cockpit end of the anchor line to a cleat you can reach from the cockpit.

Retrieving Your Anchor

To retrieve the anchor, just motor the boat forward while pulling in the anchor line. When the point where the anchor line is tied to the spring line is reached, untie it and continue to recover the anchor. At this point, I clip on a recovery ball to complete the recovery. I continue to motor to a position ahead of where the anchor is hung and lift it off the bottom with the recovery ball. If the anchor is hung up on the bottom, the breakaway line will part and the anchor will be retrieved backwards.

Closing Thoughts

If you feel uncomfortable on the bow of your boat or are tired of fighting the sea floor for your anchor, you can avoid both by using the spring line and an anchor rigged to break away. "Anchor up."


  • Anchor.JPG
    7.7 KB · Views: 192
Drill a hole in the flat plate at bottom of anchor and add a shackle. Secure your anchor chain to bottom of anchor at shackle. Leave a little slack in chain and use a couple of 1/4" wire ties and tie chain off at top of anchor as intended by manufacturer.

If anchor hangs, ties will break and anchor pulls up from bottom. You can experiment with different sizes of ties and #'s for your wind, current and boat sizes.

This also works on my reef anchor.
Thanks for the replies....I have rigged a smaller danforth anchor like described and it did work...I should have mentioned that I have a delta anchor (2520 Parker) that I'm sure could be rigged the same way; however, I was uncertain on the strength of the ties along the shank... My smaller anchor ties would break at the most inconvenient times or not break when i increased the strength of the ties.

I like both ideas and I do have a round fender that I could rig the way kingfish described.

There have been a couple of boats sunk around here trying to retrieve an anchor!

All of the above ideas are likely to work in some fashion.
Can't say I'm fond of trip lines and breakaways. We use a Chene in foul bottoms; got ours at Walmart. I wouldn't trust it overnight during a tide change...

This is the method we used to break out a fouled anchor while we were living aboard our sailboat:
Make a circle of chain around the rode that will easily slip over the shank of the foul anchor. Tie a stout line to the circle of chain.
Bouy the fouled rode as tight as possible (tie a float on the rode so it's vertical down to the anchor). Let the circle of chain slide down the rode to the anchor - and hopefully down the shank to the fluke(s). Attach the stout line to the stern of the boat and pull in the opposite direction that was used to set the anchor.

If you must leave the anchor, but might return later, consider bouying the line rather than just cutting it.

Another thought while we're on the subject.
Some folks like to tie the bitter end of their anchor line something in the anchor locker so they don't lose it if they let out too much scope. I've spliced 50' of light poly line to the end of my anchor line, and leave the bitter end untied. This way if the anchor gets away I can just retrieve the floating poly line and pull it back up.

What's the advantage?
There can be times when you WANT to turn the anchor's fouled, it's dragging, there's someone dragging down on you in the middle of the night in a storm...and it can be almost impossible to untie a knot or undo a shackle with your head in the anchor locker, at night, in the cold, with waves breaking over the bow.
jeffnick":1uxw7sc6 said:
What's the advantage?

There can be times when you WANT to turn the anchor's fouled, it's dragging, there's someone dragging down on you in the middle of the night in a storm...and it can be almost impossible to untie a knot or undo a shackle with your head in the anchor locker, at night, in the cold, with waves breaking over the bow.
Great points and tips!