Whether setting up at the local sandbar or dropping the hook at your favorite reef, anchoring is a fundamental task that all mariners must be able to accomplish safely and effectively. And while setting anchor isn’t difficult, retrieving an anchor by hand is backbreaking work that requires strength and stamina.
Although some choose to outfit their vessel with a windlass that automatically lowers and raises ground tackle to eliminate the manual handling of anchor, chain and rode, these power driven systems are costly and not even an option on smaller vessels with space limitations. Fortunately, for those without a winch in the bow there’s a great alternative that’s equally effective.
Complete Situational Awareness
…if you fish a lot of chain with a larger anchor and have the storage room for a larger ball, then it’s wise to step up in size.
Before we continue it must be noted that prior to heaving the anchor overboard you must first make sure you are in an area with appropriate bottom characteristics for your anchor and that anchoring isn’t prohibited. You should never anchor over live reef or within a channel, and you must always be aware of currents, tides and winds. It’s also critical you provide adequate scope for the depth in which you desire to hold bottom.
Once you’ve had your fun and it is time to move on, anglers in the know utilize a round buoy to facilitate the easy surfacing of the heavy anchor and chain. You’ll need to first purchase a round buoy with a buoyancy capacity adequate to lift the combined weight of your anchor and chain. A standard 11-inch polyball provides about 30 pounds of buoyancy, while a 15.5-inch ball provides about 68 pounds. Most center console operators can get away with the smaller ball, but if you fish a lot of chain with a larger anchor and have the storage room for a larger ball, then it’s wise to step up in size.
Once you’ve purchased a buoy, attach it to a stainless steel shackle with 30 inches of yellow polypropylene line. The last item you need is a 6-inch steel anchor ring. Complete systems can be purchased through your favorite boating accessory retailer. When you are ready to float the anchor simply place the ring over the anchor line and fasten the two eyes on the anchor ring closed with the shackle. Toss the buoy overboard and motor forward at about five knots at a 30 degree angle to the anchor line. Keep a close eye on the buoy as it parallels the side of the boat and continues down the rode. Expect the buoy to disappear from sight as it is pulled under from the momentum of the boat moving forward and weight of the ground tackle. When the anchor finally pulls free it will float to the surface under the ball and all that’s left to do is shift into neutral and pull the ground tackle in without fighting the weight of the anchor and chain. It’s really that easy.