How to Anchor from Your Cockpit

We always love tips on ways to maneuver our boats when we’re missing those extra sets of hands, and Captain John from provides us with these helpful pointers on anchoring from the cockpit.

If you are anything like me, you’re always looking to make short-handed sailing easier and more efficient. How many times have you found anchoring to be a handful for you and your sailing crew? Once you try cockpit anchoring, you’ll be hooked for sure!

Cruising sailboats with small, easy-to-handle marine anchors can take advantage of this quick and easy technique. Follow these five simple steps to set up your cockpit for short-handed anchoring.

1. Prepare the Stern Pulpit Mount

Measure across the flukes of your anchor. Cut a piece of PVC a bit wider than your measurement. Split the tube and clamp it onto the stern rail.

2. Mount the Anchor

Drape your anchor over the PVC tube so that the flukes face inboard. Keep the shank outboard. Lash the anchor down with easy-to-remove bungee chord.

3. Attach the Anchor Chain

Remove the chafing chain from the lower part of your anchor rode. Take it back to the cockpit and bend it (attach it) to the anchor. Lead the chain outside of the stern pulpit and back into the cockpit.

4. Fairlead the Anchor Rode

Pull a length of rope anchor rode from your anchor locker equal to your boat length and cleat the line. Coil the remaining line toward the bitter end.

Lead the coil through the bow chock and feed it out as you walk back to the cockpit. Stay outside of all stanchions, rails, and shrouds. Attach the rope bitter end to the chain bitter end.

5. Launch Your Cockpit Anchor

Sail onto a close reach or run. Remove the bungee. Just before you drop the anchor, angle the bow toward the launch side. This protects your hull from dings as the ground tackle feeds over the side.

If you choose to approach on a run, keep your speed to the absolute minimum at which you still have positive rudder control (called “bare steerageway”).

Use just the headsail or sail in under bare poles. When you drop the anchor, the boat will pivot 180 degrees into the wind (see illustration).

There are many ways to rig a cockpit anchor, but this method will give you a 2:1 or 3:1 scope in shallow water anchorages. Once the anchor sets, increase the scope to 7:1 or more for overnight anchoring.


Use these five simple steps to get your marine anchor ready to launch from the cockpit. This will make boat anchoring easier and less stressful for you and your short-handed sailing crew.

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