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Old 27-08-2010, 08:22   #1
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Anchor Retrieval Systems ?

I am in the process of updating my ground tackle system. I have a 20kg (44lb) Rocna with a 45ft chain/250ft rope rode for coastal cruising, and we plan to go all-chain within the next couple of years for when we start cruising farther afield. However, I have not yet installed a new windlass and that project isn't on the to-do list / in the budget for another year. In the meantime, retrieving the anchor manually is quite exhausting - do-able, but a definite workout and not something you'd want to try in an emergency. We typically anchor in about 25-30 ft of water, so the final retrieval has 30 ft of chain plus the anchor itself, totalling about 75 lbs.

I've been looking for alternatives in the meantime and came across this product:
Anchor Puller | AnchorLift | AnchorLift Pro

I have never seen such a thing in practice and intuitively it seems that it relies on the speed of the boat to create enough drag on the buoy to draw the anchor up from the bottom. Again, intuitively, it seems that this is less likely to work with a heavier anchor, resulting in the buoy just racing along behind the stern and the anchor skipping along the bottom.

I could not find any videos or reviews on the interwebs... Has anyone tried such a system, or something similar? Does it work?
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Old 27-08-2010, 08:49   #2
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Well that system states it is for use on rope only, with minimal chain. If you're using even 45' of chain it's not going to be helping unless you're anchoring in > 45' depth, and then only marginally. Even otherwise, I don't like the idea of dragging the floating and anchor rode around (backward?) in a crowded anchorage.

You can try other techniques. Run the rode to a winch somehow and bring it up to the chain at least. Or use a buoyed retrieval line so you can winch up the anchor too.
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Old 27-08-2010, 09:14   #3
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This looks pretty "iffy" but if you do get one post your results.
Looking ahead for when you get all chain rode, the windlass will at some time fail and you will be back to (temporarily) hoisting it all by hand. My old electric windlass failed by age and use and the new one failed when a pawl broke ($1 part and a lot of misery until I could get a new pawl) - sooo, you should have Plan B in mind already.
What saved me from even more misery was that the gypsy didn't rotate - this made it quite handy as a place to park the chain in between hand pulls and not have all the chain run out again. This was with a 60# CQR and 3/8 chain (the good news is they weigh less in the water ;-) Suggest you look for something of a similar function - just being able to stand up and take a breather made a huge difference.
Either way, if you have to leave an anchorage because of weather and the weather is already there - you won't be leaving, or you will be leaving without the rode...

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Old 27-08-2010, 09:34   #4
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WM have a similar thing - they indicate you motor at an angle, which forces the float down the rode to the anchor where it breaks it free and floats it to the top. T-H MARINE Anchor Retrieving System at West Marine

They sell the ring alone for about $13 if you want to add a fender and a snap hook.

Sorry don't know if it works, but would like to hear your experience.
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Old 27-08-2010, 09:37   #5
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while watching others anchor, i found the population of folks who dragged nearly 100 percent of the time had buoys attached to their anchors to catch on the stern of the boat while swinging the normal swing at anchor.
until i owned a boat with a windlass, and cruised boats with windlasses, my anchor retrieval was hand over hand after overdriving anchor with shortened rode. now i have electric windlass and covet a simpson lawrence manual. one... sea witch would be nice--i like those. but now i can stand on bow and put my foot on the deck and haul anchor as if i had money!!!! no buoys on my rodes for the reason i stated above. the gps will show you where you have your anchor now. the marking of your anchor with a buoy in an anchorage is actually the best way to drag anchor.
i havent found the need for using a device to raise my anchors--even the heavy ones-they all come out of the mud when you overdrive them and make the rode be directly straight up and down. the bouncing of the boat in the wakes of other boats is enough to break that anchor free so it can be raised without as much effort as when ye try to haul it out of the mud manually! i show i do the raising of my anchor when i would single hand my ericson, as well as smaller boats i owned and sailed..when it was really hard to get anchor up, i would walk the rode back to the cockpit and use a winch to raise the mess. worked well on 25-30 ft boats.
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Old 27-08-2010, 10:01   #6
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The commercial fisherman setting fishpots on the deep banks (100ft +) to the south of Bermuda needed long float lines to allow for current pull.
They would snap on a large float, like an A5 size, and steam in a circle.
The drag from the float would certainly lift the pot off the bottom, the bloating of the groupers would help as it came up.
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Old 27-08-2010, 10:41   #7
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We tried using a similar system to pull anchors when gillneting for herring. It was not very time efficient for us so we did not keep using it but what I do recall was that you had to be able to get significant acceleration other wise the line would not slip past the float.
Intuitive physics would seem to indicate an explanation that the lateral resistance of dragging the float though the water would have to be greater than weight of the rode and anchor.
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Old 27-08-2010, 10:50   #8
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I believe for many years fishermen have used this technique for anchoring to fish deep bottom structure (150' to 1,000' depths)

The technique is discussed and illustrated in "The Cruiser's Handbook of Fishing" first published in the 50's.
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Old 27-08-2010, 12:08   #9
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I still use the hand over hand method, but some mornings I covet a windlass. My solution is to use a 10# Fortress, although with the 30+ ft of chain it is still chore.
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Old 27-08-2010, 12:30   #10
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From the head of the anchor run a long loop of line, both ends on the boat, one on a fat buoy or fender. When you want to haul anchor throw the 'float' in the water and haul on the loose end. A cheap self tailing capstan winch would be perfect. The float will help in the heavy hoist and you should get some leverage from your pull and the floats efforts. At least the anchors weight is off while you haul in the slack chain. Just as many pounds to lift eventually, but not the full dead weight of the anchor plus chain. And lifting the nose end will get it out of pretty much whatever it stuck in.
Theory only, but an injury could make this method a slow but sure anchor recovery method.
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