Don’t Forget the Dinghy Anchor!

Whenever you go ANYWHERE in the dinghy, PLEASE be SURE to take a dinghy anchor. It’s a necessary safety addition, just as important as a handheld VHF or life jackets.  I’ve posted about the importance of dinghy anchors before, but a recent experience revealed that maybe a few boaters failed to read my original post!  🙂

Trusty dinghy anchor, chain and rode.

Trusty rusty, well used, dinghy anchor, chain and rode.

In our last anchorage aboard s/v Winterlude, a boat anchored next to us went to friends for the evening and never returned.  We just figured they decided to stay all night.  Turns out their outboard quit and they couldn’t get back until friends towed them back the next day.  Thank goodness they were close to their friends when it happened, otherwise they could have been out Tampa Bay before anyone knew they were gone. Calling SeaTow is an option in only in the US, not in other countries.

David working on our trusty Tohatsu in the Exumas. Whew, close call!

David working on our trusty Tohatsu in the Exumas. Whew, close call!

If the outboard suddenly quits and the current is ripping out, you could be in a lot of trouble in an instant.  One time in the Exumas, our trusty but very old Tohatsu decided to stop running.  The current was quickly carrying us out to sea.  Luckily, we had the dinghy anchor.  Even more luckily someone on a boat in the anchorage happened to be watching with binoculars – we were too far away to be seen easily – and came out in his dinghy to check on us.  Just about that time David diagnosed and fixed the problem and the Tohatsu fired easily.

The dinghy waits patiently as we explore.

The dinghy waits patiently as we explore.

Ours has about six feet of chain and 30 feet of nylon anchor rode.  Many people (including West Marine’s dinghy anchor packages) forget to add chain to the end toward the anchor.  But chain on the dinghy anchor performs just the same as it does on the big boat.  And if you’ll be snorkeling anywhere around coral, chain protects the rode on the bottom in case the dinghy swings over a loose piece of sharp coral while you’re away.

Please, don’t leave the boat without a dinghy anchor and enough rode to anchor it wherever you might be!  Anyone with other dinghy anchor stories, please leave a comment and share!  Cheers!  Jan




  1. Bill Hajek S/V Winterlude says:

    For those of us who have had to row a dinghy, especially when loaded with a 15hp motor and 4 people, with no anchor aboard. The security of having one handy when the manpower to row is 1 kn and the current is 2 kn.
    Thanks Jan.
    I will post you separately with Winterlude status update.

  2. We even carry two on our dinghy, which is a 14 ft. 1928 Doug Hylan design built in Huon Pine – one in the bow, one at the stern, just in case (I am a bit anal about safety at sea since I nearly drowned in a 6 metre freak wave on Seychelles – swimming in calm seas, and suddenly this thing came out of nowhere). Bill’s safety tip is absolutely correct; throwing the anchor out sufficiently early in strong currents prevents you from burning out and being swept away; once the current has subsided you can continue to your ship. And we never tow our dinghy, but keep it in a cradle on deck – looks nice and doesn’t flip over :-). Cheers everyone, Florian

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