Tip #3 - Marine Anchor Trip Line Secrets - Five Easy Steps

How many times have you had a tough time pulling your marine anchor

aboard? Perhaps it snagged on a rock, coral head, cable, or

worse--another anchor? Avoid these headaches with a simple,

easy-to-use trip-line.

One end of the trip line attaches to the anchor and the other end

has a float--like a plastic jug or styrofoam buoy. When you're ready

to pull in your anchor, you grab the float, pull on it and the

anchor lifts off the bottom.

When will you want to use a trip line?

1. Crowded harbors where you might snag another boat's anchor.

2. Poor bottoms like rock or coral where your anchor might get stuck.

3. To mark your anchor so that boats don't run over your anchor rode.

4. If you might need to retrieve your anchor fast in an emergency.

How to Make a Trip Line

Use small diameter polypropylene line. It floats, comes in bright

colors for good visibility, and stands up well to abrasion.

Attach one end of your trip line to the anchor crown on lightweight

anchors like the Danforth or Fortress. On stockless anchors like

the Bruce or Delta, attach the trip line to the small hole near the

crown. On a CQR anchor, attach the line to the rear horizontal bar.

Tie the other end of the trip line to your float. Form a large

eye-splice in this end to make recovery with a boat hook easier.

Five Easy Steps to Use a Trip Line

1. Calculate Trip line Length

Determine the depth of water at the highest of the high tides

for your length of stay (see example). Add three feet to your

calculation for safety.


You arrive at your anchorage at low tide (mean lower low water),

with a depth of 18 feet. You will anchor for two days. The tide

tables indicate the consecutive high tides over those two days as 5

feet, 7 feet, 6.5 feet and 9 feet above low tide. How much trip

line do you need?

18 feet (low tide) + 9 feet (highest tide) + 3 feet (safety factor)

= 30 feet of trip line.

2. Setup

Coil the trip line. Start nearest the anchor and coil clockwise

toward the float. Pass the coil under and back over the bow pulpit

or rail so that it goes over without snagging. Break the coil in

half with your dominant hand holding that half closest to the float.

3. Deployment

Wait for the boat to stop over the anchorage spot. Heave the

trip-line float over the bow and allow the coiled line to stream

all the way. Next, lower the anchor in the normal way. Use this

sequence to keep the trip line and marine anchor from wrapping

around one another.

4. Retrieval

Pull on the anchor rode, or use the boat diesel to nudge up near

the trip line. Use a boat hook to retrieve the float. First, try to

retrieve your anchor without using the trip line. If it's fouled

pull on the trip line to try and capsize the anchor. Take the trip

line to a halyard or sheet winch for more pulling power.

5. Care and Stowage Tips

Remove the trip line from your anchor crown after you have your

anchor aboard. Rinse the trip line in clean water, dry it well,

then coil and stow it in your anchor locker.

Your marine anchor trip line does double duty by marking your

anchor position and helping you retrieve a stubborn anchor. Follow

these five fast, easy steps to make your life on the hook

easier, safer, and less stressful!


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