How To Retrieve An Anchor


On most sailing trips, anchoring a sailboat is necessary. You could anchor your sailboat to do some fishing, explore an island, or improve sailing safety by avoiding sailing at night. As you have probably guessed, to resume sailing, you will have to retrieve the anchor.

If you aren’t careful when pulling up the anchor, the whole process can get quite complicated. In some instances, you could end up in real danger. To ensure that this does not happen, we will show you how to pull up anchor.

Things to Consider Before You Pull Up Anchor

Things to Consider Before You Pull Up Anchor

To avoid being in danger of making the process of retrieving the sailing anchor more complicated than it is supposed to be, consider the following:


If you have been wearing your sailing jacket for a while now, you probably already know that the wind is capable of blowing your sailboat off the course when retrieving the anchor. On top of reducing your sailboat’s stableness, it could put you in danger of colliding with other sailboats and obstacles.


Currents, similar to winds, can push the sailboat off the course. If you intend to retrieve anchor in an area featuring strong currents, you need to be precise. This can help reduce the chances of colliding with obstacles and other sailboats.

How Close the Other Sailboats and Obstacles Are

Taking your time to figure out how close other sailboats are can help you avoid colliding with them once you pull up anchor. You should also consider whether there are any obstacles close to where your sailboat is anchored.

The obstacles could include structures such as docks and even rocks. Colliding with the obstacles could cause serious damage to your sailboat’s hull.

How to Retrieve Anchor Under Power

Once you are done with wearing your sailing shoes and using the boat steering wheel, the first thing you will need to do is weigh down your anchor. Weighing own the anchor involves making sure that the anchor rode is taut enough.

To do this, you will want to pull in an anchor rode the length and belay it. Continue doing this until you determine the rode is pulled straight up and down or tight. After figuring out that the rode is taut, you can belay it again before standing clear of the anchor.

If someone is helping you pull up anchor, request them to run the engine at the slowest possible speed. This allows you to trip the anchor. Once the anchor breaks free off the water, stop the forward motion and then pull it up.

It is not uncommon for new sailors to have issues with tripping the anchor. If this happens to you, try motoring a tight circle around your anchor. You need to be cautious when doing this. If you move too abruptly or quickly, you could damage your anchor.

How to Pull Up Anchor Under Sail

While it is much easier to retrieve anchor under power, you could be using a sailboat that does not have an engine. Additionally, your engine could fail when you need to pull up the anchor.

Before you initiate retrieving the anchor, you should improve the boating safety by ensuring that you have a clear path to sail through once your sailing anchor breaks free. While it is a good idea to raise the sail, you should avoid securing the sail before you retrieve the anchor completely. Keeping the sails free helps reduce the chances of getting drawn as you pull up anchor.

Retrieving the Anchor While Sailing Alone

If you grabbed your sailing bag and boarded the sailboat alone, you may have a hard time retrieving the anchor. This, however, does not mean that you won’t be able to pull up anchor.

What you will need to do is retrieve the anchor as quickly as possible, before the sailboat begins moving off course. To make sure that you do not end up in problems, avoid leaving the sailboat engine in gear while going to retrieve the anchor.

If you find that the current is swift or the wind is high, you should consider quickly cleating the rode and attending to the engine control to shift direction. This should help keep the sailboat in position while you try to finish retrieving the anchor.

Basic Rules to Keep in Mind


Keep the Boat Directly Over the Anchor

Before you break the anchor free, you must ensure the sailboat stays directly over the anchor. To put the boat in this position, simply motor towards the anchor slowly.

Make sure that the crew is on the sailboat’s bow bringing the rode up. Also, make sure that the sailboat is staying downwind.

Keep Your Boat in the Same Position When Retrieving the Anchor

After positioning your sailboat above the anchor, the anchor will break loose. Ensure that the sailboat stays in one position while your crew works on pulling the anchor all the way up. Dragging the anchor behind the sailboat can be dangerous.

If your sailboat is under sail, more effort may be necessary to keep the boat from moving before you pull up anchor. If the boat is facing the wind, you should only back the mainsail or jib once the anchor is secure inside the sailboat.

Dealing with a Fouled Anchor

The term “fouled anchor” refers to an anchor that has become hooked on an impediment on the seabed. This makes breaking free and retrieving the anchor tougher.

The best thing to do is to take measures to reduce the chances of the anchor becoming fouled. One prevention technique you could use is rigging the sailboat anchor trip line or deploying devices that can help pull the flukes of the anchor out and backward from the crown.

If your anchor has already fouled, you can try using the boat’s buoyancy to yank your anchor up. To do this, you should cleat the rode down and then let the waves push the vessel up and down. This should create enough momentum to pull the anchor up.

Globo Surf Overview

To reduce the chances of dealing with difficulties when retrieving an anchor, you should take your time to ensure that the sailboat is properly positioned before anchoring. If there are no obstacles nearby, pulling up the anchor should be much easier.

A fouled anchor can make anchor retrieval much harder. Taking measures to reduce the chances of fouling is always a great idea.

More Sail Reviews:


  1. Step-by-Step Anchoring: Preparing, Retrieving, and Wind Direction,
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!