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rayncyn51 02-18-2009 10:34 AM

Anchor Trip Line 101, Please
AS an inexperienced sailor, I read to gain knowledge. I have read in many places about using a trip line on the anchor to help free the anchor shold it become stuck. I am seeing this described two ways: One, as a line attached to the anchor with a float on the other end, the line being of a length which is slightly more than the depth of the anchor. Two, a line the length of the rode attached to the anchor and run back to the boat. Often the second option speaks of the trip line being attached to the rode. Never having used either option, I have questions about both.

When attached to a float, how do I keep from running over the line while I'm moving over the anchor while hauling it aboard? Seems to me to be a fouled prop waiting to happen.

As a line attached to the rode... Why? If it is so attached, would not any pull on the trip line be equivilent to a pull on the rode? If it is a paralell but seperate line, how do I stowe both it and the rode while I pulling up the anchor so as not to get the two lines hopelessly tangled? And if I pull up one line at a time, how do I keep the second line out of the prop?

BTW: 30' production coastal cruiser, Chesapeake Bay, Bruce style anchor, mostly doublehanded.

Thank you in advance for any information that you can give me.

soulesailor 02-18-2009 10:43 AM

I've never heard of a trip-line running back to the boat or attached to the anchor rode in any way. That sounds like danger waiting to happen.

My trip line is longer than the water is deep at high tide so it won't pull on the anchor at all. I run the line up to the float and through a shackle and then put a little weight on the end of the line. The weight pulls the slack out of the trip-line and keeps it floating plumb at all stages of tide.

Remember to attach the trip-line to the other end of the anchor so if you need to use it you are pulling the anchor out backwards (which is how you get it unstuck).

erps 02-18-2009 10:59 AM

We use a trip line in a couple of anchorages with known fouling problems and had to use it once to recover our anchor. We tie it off to a small styrofoam fishing cork marked "anchor". It helps other boats know where our anchor is as well. That said, you would be amazed at how often your boat sits right over top of your anchor on calm days with that darn little float knocking against the hull in the middle of the night. And then when you go to pull up anchor after several days, the trip line is wrapped around the anchor rode several times, making anchor retrieval even more fun. Unless you're willing to free dive down and attach a line if you get stuck, they are sometimes a necessary evil IMO.

sailingdog 02-18-2009 11:04 AM

I've seen a trip line attached to the rode using small clips or light seizings that allowed it to be pulled free when the anchor needed to be tripped. I've also seen float-rigged trip lines similar to what soulesailor describes.

I'm not a fan of anchoring and needing to use a trip line. I'd rather anchor in a place the trip line wasn't a necessity.

JohnRPollard 02-18-2009 11:08 AM


Originally Posted by rayncyn51 (Post 450353)

BTW: 30' production coastal cruiser, Chesapeake Bay, Bruce style anchor, mostly doublehanded.

Thank you in advance for any information that you can give me.


I'll let other folks offer advice on the trip line mechanics, but I did want to mention that I've never found a trip line necessary nor desirable anywhere on the Chesapeake. Your bruce anchor should hold well, and should release easily from the mud once you get the rode more-or-less vertical.

That's not to say you won't ever need to know how to use a trip line, but I don't think you'll have much use for it on the Chesapeake. And if you end up in a crowded or busy anchorage, it would be a real liability.

xort 02-18-2009 11:28 AM

recently read an account by Labatt where they put out a trip line & bouy. Another boat came along after dark and snagged the trip line and started dragging them.

I've read other people thinking the bouy was a mooring bouy and tied to it!

I like the suggestion that you put a piece of poly rope on the anchor but set the rope so it floats 5' to 6' below the surface. If you need to trip your anchor, you can get another line down to it with a boat hook or just swim down to the line. This method keeps the line out of virtually all props and out of the reach of others.

rayncyn51 02-18-2009 11:37 AM

Thanks to all. I like the shackle/weight idea. That solves another point I was pondering, keeing the float over the anchor at low tide.

AdamLein 02-18-2009 11:55 AM

I read about a great trick in The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring, a book I would recommend.

You can use the rode itself as a trip line. You need an eye on the crown of the anchor. Instead of shackling to the end of the arm, you shackle to the crown, and then seize the rode onto the end of the arm with a line that can break under sufficient pressure. If the anchor doesn't get stuck, same as anchoring without a trip line. If it does, then when you weigh, the seizing breaks and now the rode pulls the anchor out backwards.

I forget what it's called. I think it was often used on traditional stock anchors, but I don't see why it couldn't be used on a modern anchor with sufficient modifications.

noelex77 02-18-2009 12:01 PM

About 6 months ago my boat snagged my anchor buoy and we ended up dragging (in about 10K wind). Since then I have used some 15lb mono filament to act as weak link in the system. (make sure the full strength rope is still long enough to reach to surface or close to it) Its a bit to early to tell if it has been successful, as I use a anchor buoy rarely.
One thing I always use is a short 6 foot anchor buoy that always stays underwater. If the anchor does snag its much easier to locate snorkeling than a buried anchor. It also reduces the free diving depth to attach a line if the anchor snags.

erps 02-18-2009 12:07 PM

That's a good idea. I've gone down to check my anchor from time to time up here in the PNW and when it's set, it's invisible.

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