Truth be told it’s pretty easy to anchor your boat. You drop the anchor to the bottom, secure the line, and the anchor does all the rest of the work… right? Not so fast—there are a few items you should know about, before anchoring a boat. Here’s a simple, straightforward run-down of the basics.


Let’s recap the major points:

  1. Start by heading the bow of the boat into the wind.

  2. Lower, do NOT throw, the anchor to the bottom.

  3. Let out a scope (extra line) of approximately 5:1 for regular conditions. In rough conditions 7:1 or even 9:1 may be necessary.

  4. When needed, give the boat a bump in reverse to help set the anchor.

  5. Obviously, if you have the wrong type of anchor for the bottom type you’ll have trouble getting it set. Read Choosing the Right Anchor to be sure you make the right pick.

BONUS TIP: A length of chain between the anchor and the rode helps your anchor grab and hold bottom. And adding more (or larger, heavier) chain reduces the amount of scope needed to hold bottom in any given situation.

DOUBLE-BONUS TIP: In strong winds your boat may drift so quickly the anchor planes through the water, without dragging bottom long enough to set. In this case, try bumping the boat in and out of gear with the bow facing directly into the wind, just enough to slow the drift and allow the anchor to drag bottom.

Want to gain more anchor and anchoring savvy? Read:

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.