Retrieve a stuck anchor
You can leave the anchor retriever components rigged on your main anchor permanently. We’ve rigged ours on a Lewmar claw anchor, which seems to be the best all-around anchor that doesn’t require a second mortgage to buy, but you can rig this up on any kind of anchor.
In Photo 1 (below), you can see a chain shackled between the ends of the anchor. The chain is snug but not tight.
Photo 2 shows a stainless ring that slides along the chain. You shackle the anchor chain to this ring.
You pull the anchor as you normally would. But if the anchor gets stuck, you can let out 15 or so feet of line (not too much; you don’t want to foul your prop) and go forward.
The ring will slide to the other end of the anchor, and the pull will come from the other direction.
Then, when the anchor comes up, the ring slides back since the heavy end of the anchor turns down, and the anchor comes into the roller.
Use an anchor puller to save your back
The second trick is to use an anchor puller to help you raise the anchor without breaking your back.
Photo 3 shows the components: a ball fender, a stainless carabiner, and a specially designed stainless ring. There is a second clip in the photo, (which is not part of the system), that we use to disconnect the ball for use as a fender.
Here’s how it works. When you’re anchored, slide the opened ring onto (Photo 4) the anchor line and close the ring with the carabiner (Photo 5).
The ring connects the ball to the anchor line, so throw the whole thing overboard. When you want to pull the anchor, check the anchor’s direction and head away from it at about 45 degrees with a lot of speed. The ball will move down the line and pull the anchor. When that happens, the ball will pop up, but keep going until the anchor has been pulled up to the ring.
At that point, turn your bow toward the ball and pull the anchor, now floating on the ball, to you. Throughout this process, but especially after the ball pops to the surface, be careful not to foul your prop. Make sure the ball is large enough to provide enough buoyancy to allow the line to be pulled through the ring at the surface. –Rick Lavoie
This article first appeared in Conch Skipper, the newsletter of Key West Sail & Power Squadron/8.