How to set a boat anchor in 3 simple steps

Published Date: October 25 2021

Boat moored with anchor

Credit: Lewmar


So you are looking to stop off for a few hours to relax and enjoy your boat, maybe to bask in the sunshine or take a dip in the sea, or perhaps even for an overnight stay? It’s important to anchor your boat correctly, especially when you are not able to regularly check that you're not drifting in the night. There’s a big difference in dropping the hook for a lunchtime stop and anchoring for an overnight stay.


Step 1: Choosing your location


The most important things to keep in mind before deciding where to anchor your boat are wind, current and water depth.

It’s important to make sure that you are far enough away from shallow waters and any potential hazards that your boat could drift into while anchored. You also need to make sure that there are no hazards in the entire turning circle of the boat.

Once you are happy with your boat’s location then it’s time to drop the anchor.

Step 2: Dropping the anchor

An easy mistake to make is to just throw your anchor and line over the side. This can cause issues with the anchor getting tangled in the line or chain and not laying correctly on the ocean floor.


Anchor on the seabed


You should carefully drop your anchor straight down and feed the line until you see or feel the anchor hit the bottom.

Once the anchor is resting correctly on the bottom, it’s time to set the anchor.

Step 3: Setting the anchor

To set the anchor, give out some scope (surplus anchor line) and then hold the line on a cleat and let the anchor start biting on the seabed as the boat drifts back on the current. Gradually continue to pay out more scope until you feel the anchor bite and hold.


Anchor set in the seabed

Your anchor should embed itself in the ocean floor, give it a hard tug to ensure that it is set. An anchor being set means it’s completely stuck.

Once you’re happy that the anchor is set, tie the anchor line off on a cleat and you’re ready to enjoy the waters!

How much scope should I let out?


  • For anchor chain, you want to ideally have 3 times the depth of water for the chain
    • So in 5 metres of water, you will want 15 metres of scope.
  • For rope lines, a good rule of thumb is 5 times the depth of water.
    • So for 5 meters of water, you will want 25 metres of scope.

      Check your mooring position

      Traditionally, the way sailors have ensured they are anchored correctly is by using transits, visual environmental landmarks such as landmasses, other boats or buoys. Transits allow you to quickly perform a visual check of where you are in relation to a few of these landmarks. Remember, you may be swinging around a bit within your boat’s turning circle, and that doesn’t mean you are drifting. If you believe you are drifting then raise and reset the anchor.

      If you’re anchoring at night, don’t forget your anchor lights to let other sailors know where you are.

      We have a large range of anchors for all boat types at If you have any questions about anchors and anchoring, please contact us at To check out our range of anchors available from Upffront, click the link below:
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