How to Properly Anchor Your Boat

If you'd like your fishing boat or any other boat to stay in a specific position, you must learn how to properly anchor your boat. Without the right anchoring technique, you may think you'll stay still until you find out you've moved quite a bit. Here are the steps you need to properly anchor your boat.

Understanding How Your Anchor Works

The anchor used to keep your boat in one spot will penetrate the surface of the seabed and create resistance. When the boat pulls on the anchor, the anchor will actually dig deeper to ensure you stay still. However, when the anchor finds a rocky bottom or coral bottom, it cannot dig in and may snag onto something.

boat anchor

Setting the Anchor

The key to properly anchoring your boat is setting the anchor. You want to ensure it sets well by applying tension to the rode to ensure the anchor will penetrate the bottom. You will need to apply a small amount of power in reverse to ensure the anchor sets. If your boat is still moving, you will need to reset the anchor and try again.

It's not uncommon for boaters to only half-heartedly attempt to set the anchor, by only reversing the boat for a few seconds. A reasonable amount of strain must be put on the rode for a reasonable amount of time to ensure the anchor sets. If the boat surges forward when you back off the power, it means you've set the anchor properly.


The scope used will make a difference when anchoring. The scope is the ratio of water depth to the length of the anchor line. Don’t forget to include the distance from the bow to the water in the depth.  Once you know this ratio, you want to choose how much rode to use. While experience is the best teacher, a 7 or 8 to 1 ratio is the common recommendation.

If you have an oversized boat anchor you may be able to use a 5 to one scope, but if the wind or current is strong, you may need a 10 to 1 scope.

It is possible to set the anchor and reduce the scope once it's set. Usually, the tension will remain the same if you choose to shorten the scope a little once you have the anchor set.

Resetting After Becoming Dislodged

If an anchor alarm goes off and you need to reset the anchor. This happens when the wind takes you away from the original spot you chose or the anchor becomes dislodged from the seabed. You will want to follow the same techniques you originally used to reset the anchor.

Using Two Anchors

You may choose to deploy two anchors if there's a significant current or you want to make sure you don't move much from your spot. You can anchor at bow and stern or with two anchors off the bow. It all depends on the conditions and what your goal is with the anchoring.

Anchoring your boat is important and you should practice the technique to ensure you know how to anchor properly. Make sure you have the right equipment and learn as much as you can about the sea beds in the area where you plan to boat.