Retrieve anchor

Retrieve anchor with line

Problem: Your anchor is hanging in a different anchor harness.

In this case, the maneuvers required to get it clear again are a few facets richer.

  • because of the high power consumption of the windlass, increase the engine speed to 1,500 to 1,800 rpm at idle.
  • Haul in the chain until you can determine whose anchor harness your iron is in.
  • Inform its crew about it and encourage the skipper to put enough chain.
  • Get the anchor together with the chain hung in it as high as possible.
  • The chain “intercepted” with a leash. Apply several strokes to the short end of the line on one foreship cleat (tip: no head strokes, because they could jam!), and the long end on the other.
  • Fold your own anchor chain and release the anchor from the chain underneath, possibly with the help of the boat hook.
  • Retrieve and secure anchor using the bow roller.
  • Inform crew of other boat, then release short end of line and pull off.
Graphic: Clearing anchor with the help of an underhook line.
If your anchor hangs in a foreign chain: first winch up the anchor together with the foreign chain and support the chain with a line. If you now lower the anchor, it should free itself, you can get it over the bow roller and secure it.

Retrieve anchor in anchor

Problem: Your iron is stuck in the anchor of the other ship. This maneuver is a little more demanding.

  • Put 1 experienced crew member at the helm who can hold position.
  • Underpin the foreign anchor with a line so that it can be easily pulled off.
  • Free your own anchor and release it from the anchor underneath. If there is no danger of the foreign anchor getting caught again, release the short end of the line and let it fall. Inform crew of the other ship immediately.
  • Retrieve and secure own anchor.
If your anchor is caught in a foreign anchor, winch both anchors up and under the foreign one with a line. By freeing your own anchor, it should come off.

Retrieve anchor with boat hook

Problem: The anchor cannot be brought up high enough.

  • In this case, knot an eye in the line with which you want to intercept the anchor. Freeze it and try to pull the eye under the chain using the boat hook (possibly lying on the foredeck). Do not lay the line (short end!) with the eye over the cleat, but open the knot and cover it with several strokes.
If your anchor together with the foreign chain can not be brought up high enough, you can pull the eye of a line under the chain with the help of the boat hook. So you can fix the chain and free your own anchor by freeing.

Clear anchor with dinghy

Problem: The chain or anchor cannot be brought up to the waterline. This can happen if the other anchor harness is too heavy for your winch or not enough chain can be put in. You then have two options:

  • Knot an eye in the line and have a crew member lower it to appropriate depth. Then either get out the snorkel and goggles and pull the line under the chain, or bring the dinghy to the water and try to pull the eye under the chain using the boat hook. You will soon realize that this is not easy. In both cases, you then pass one end to the crew member on the foredeck using the boat hook.
  • For the second option you will also need the dinghy (without outboard motor because of the line) and a crew member to row you. Underpin the chain still above the waterline with a line weighted with a weight and pull it along the chain to that point where it hangs in your anchor. Then pass the short end and the long end to the crew member on the foredeck using the boat hook.
Graphic: Clearing anchor with boat hook or dinghy
If the line in which the anchor is caught cannot be brought up high enough, the boat hook or dinghy must be used to help. For the variant on the right, a crew member should stand on the foredeck, the line must be weighted with a weight.


Problem: The anchor is stuck at the bottom.

If the chain points up and down and your anchor still won’t move an inch, it’s usually stuck in a heavy foreign anchor, mooring blocks or chains that the harbor master doesn’t always warn you about with a “foul ground” notice. If this is the case, you can not avoid a dive in the harbor broth.

  • Post a crew member on the forecastle with a long line with an oversized carabiner or chain with carabiner pulled through an eye attached to the end, if possible. If this is not possible, you should quickly practice the bowline a few more times.
  • Secure the line and haul hand over hand down along your anchor chain to the anchor. Do not forget to equalize the pressure!
  • Attach the line to the front end of your anchor (drawing 6) and check which way the anchor needs to be pulled to get free.
  • Go back on board and put all the chain you have.
  • Give about three times as much line as the water depth; occupy the line on the foreship cleat.
  • Motors over the stern (so you don’t get the line in the screw!) in the direction you previously pointed until the line tightens (drawing 6b).
  • When the anchor is free, winch it onto the bow roller with the chain; the line must be retrieved by hand.
Graphic: Clear anchor over diver
If the anchor is stuck on the bottom, a crew member – assuming suitable water depth – should dive down and attach a bowline or carabiner to the forward end of the…
Graphic: Clear anchor with diver.
…attach a leash. Then as much chain as possible should be put and given about as much line as three times the depth of the water. Cover line; over the stern now motor in the direction that the diver has determined as the pull direction to get the anchor free.