Releasing a Stuck Anchor

Use these tips to break your anchor free.

August 30, 2012

You’ve anchored for a while to relax, but when it comes time to pull up, the anchor won’t budge. Don’t stress over that stuck anchor. Try these tips for using the boat to break a stuck anchor free. You’ll save your back and your anchor.

Short Haul
Pull up line so you’re directly above the anchor. “Tail it off” on the cleat, taking a turn around the base and holding taut — don’t cleat it off — as the boat dips into a trough. Watch your fingers if it’s rough. On the crest of the next wave, the rise of the boat may free the hook. By tailing the line, you can let it slip to prevent the bow being pulled under.

Ring Ding
Snap an anchor-retrieval ring and buoy around the anchor line and drive past the anchor at about 45 degrees. The float and ring, which serve as a pulley, will move down the rode. The ball’s buoyancy combined with the boat’s pull can free a stubborn anchor. Keep driving until you see the anchor ball break the surface astern. At this point, it can easily be pulled in. Note that if the anchor is truly stuck fast, even this technique might not free it. Always use caution when motoring while tethered to an anchor rode.


Get Stern
Motoring forward while the boat is connected to a stretchy anchor line at the bow is dangerous. Cleat the line at the stern before trying anything more than idle rpm. Never allow the stern to swing into the waves or a strong current.

Cut and Run
Sometimes the anchor simply won’t budge. Neptune’s dues. If the anchor won’t come out, either buoy the line and come back later, or cut it short with a sharp serrated knife so that other boaters don’t foul their props in the rode.


More How To