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How Much Anchor Chain Do You Really Need To Cruise

Hauling Your Anchor Without a Windlass
By Len Thibodeau
Posted: 2023-05-31T18:57:13Z

So, you don’t have a windlass.

You have your anchor down in 30ft of water and the wind blew all night so it’s really set well. Here are some tips to help get the anchor up with as little stress and strain as possible.


First, try to leave in the morning when and the wind is usually lighter.


You’re of course familiar with how to set your scope given your location and the objects around you. When you scouted a suitable location to drop the anchor yesterday you took all that into account. So there is room to drift once the anchor is off the bottom and while you’re getting it secured on the bow roller.


I find it is helps immensely to have a short line with a snubber hook on it. The hook on mine reaches midway over the open anchor locker so I can pull the boat up to the anchor while sitting on the foredeck with my feet in the open anchor locker. Set the snubber as often as needed to secure the chain. I often take a break to wash the mud from the chain before pulling it over the bow roller.


If you’re not single handed you have the luxury of having your partner on the helm. You can give hand (or verbal instructions using Bluetooth headsets) to power slowly, forward, port or starboard so you can take up the slackening rode and chain. Not too fast, the anchor rode/chain should never go under the bow.

If you’re single handed you can make use of a phenomena we’ve all noticed. While a boat is anchored the rode is not always taught. As the boat swings the rode goes slack for a short period of time. That’s the time to take up the slack. Eventually you will get right up to the anchor so the chain is nearly straight down.

Use your short snubber to secure the chain and let the bobbing motion of the boat work the anchor loose. Patiently watch the chain and the way the boat is pointing.

When the anchor begins to come loose the boat will start swinging broadside to the wind so you can begin raising the anchor. This is the time when you’ll appreciate having lots of room to drift.


If your partner is on the helm all is well and the boat can be maneuvered safely, but slowly until you get the anchor on the roller.


Hope this has been helpful. If you see a C&C40 named Breakaway along the New England coast stop by and say ahoy.