How to Set Up a River Anchor

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River anchors are lightweight mushroom anchors. The procedure for setting a river anchor is essentially the same as for setting an anchor on any other body of water. The hazard involved in setting up a river anchor properly is that the anchor may snag on trash at the bottom, leaving you anchored to a washing machine or a rusting car hulk instead of the river bottom. Using proper anchoring techniques will help you overcome this problem and give you an afternoon or evening of ease while "hanging on the hook."

Things You'll Need

  • River anchor
  • Anchor line
  • Boat
  • Move up-current to the point where you wish to anchor. Moving into the current gives you more control over your vessel's speed and maneuvering while anchoring.

  • Lower your anchor. Do not drop it or throw it; it won't dig into the river bottom properly. Further, if you simply drop the anchor, it's more likely to become entangled in refuse on the bottom of the river, rather than sink into the river bed. While a washing machine on the bottom may hold you for a time, the motion of your boat in the current is likely to worry the anchor free.

  • Tie the anchor off to a cleat or other fitting on your boat. The scope---the amount of anchor line you let out---will depend on the speed of the current, how close you are to obstructions and how choppy the water is. The faster the current and the larger the chop, the more line you let out. Your proximity to obstructions, like bridge piers and other boats in the area, is less flexible: don't hit the other boats or the bridge piers.

  • Set the anchor by allowing the current to pull your boat backward against the anchor line, then apply power astern for a moment. If the anchor line tightens up and your boat stays in position, your anchor is set. The anchor is equipped with a part called a tripping palm, which will turn the anchor on its side and allow its flukes to dig into the river bottom. If the anchor line doesn't tighten up, you can try backing up to see if the anchor will dig in. If the anchor line still doesn't tighten up, you'll need to pull forward, recover the anchor and lower it again.

  • To recover the anchor, pull forward, recovering anchor line as you go. When the anchor line is almost straight up and down, tie the anchor line off and continue pulling forward slowly to dislodge it from the bottom. Pull the anchor up, coil your line and stow line and anchor.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you're sailing single-handed, tie off by the stern (the back) of the boat initially. You can shift your anchor line after the anchor is set.
  • Do not tie off to any point on your boat except the bow or the stern. Tying off amidships (in the middle) can cause your boat to capsize.

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