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Safe Reef Anchoring

Updated on June 23, 2011
Image courtesy of
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This small tip on reef anchoring may save you time and heartache when you are fishing or mooring on the reef. Ive been stuck on the reef via my reef pick anchor before and it can be quite stressful as you wonder if you have enough cover on your boat insurance. I ended up cutting the anchor rope and losing my anchor, chain and 30 meters (100 foot) of anchor rope.

If you follow these simple ideas below you should spend less time worrying about your boat and more time trying new locations for fishing.


Firstly grab yourself a bow shackle and cable tie. I use a cable tie but you could use twine or string. Attach your bow shackle around the neck of your reef pick and then attach your anchor rope chain to the pin of the bow shackle. Next attach the chain to the loop of the reef pick with the cable tie, as shown in the photo below.

I also cut a small nick into the cable tie to assist breaking it.

When you drive back over your mooring point, your anchor will either pull off the reef if its not hooked up hard or the cable tie will break and the chain will swing back, thus pulling the reef pick off from behind.

Other safe reef anchoring pointers are:

  • Never attach your anchor rope to the stern of your boat in order to try to pull it off the reef.
  • Always drive slowly back over your mooring point, against the current.
  • Never throw your anchor and chain into the water in one motion, but lower your anchor down first.
  • Try to purchase a smaller reef pick than you think you need. The smaller the reef pick tynes the easier they will bend to assist you getting off the reef.
  • I find there is no need to have a huge length of heavy chain, I heard a rule of thumb that the length of chain should be your length of boat. But for me I'd half this. With longer heavier chain it has more chance itself of wrapping around the reef and getting you stuck.

Final Note... 

There have been situations when where I have had to cut the anchor rope, even after adopting the anchor modifications shown above. I have been stuck fast to the reef and no matter how hard I have tried I still cannot get my anchor off the bottom. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, “Is it safe to continue to try and break off the bottom by accelerating into the opposite direction of anchorage or should I just cut the anchor rope?” In these situations you do have to weigh up your options and the conditions.

The principles that I have stated in this article show generally how to safely anchor to a reef structure but they won’t cover all situations.

Hope this has been helpful and happy boating!


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    • Waren E profile image

      Waren E 8 years ago from HAS LEFT THE BUILDING............

      Good knowledge there,thanks for sharing Leon!