Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kayak Anchoring System

I have been working on the rigging of my new Trident 13 for several months now. I am finished and am going to start a series of post on what I did and how I did it. I plan on finishing with a monster overview post, showing all of my customization. This is the tenth post in the series.

1st post: Installing a Fish Finder 
2nd post: Upgrading a Plano Dry Box
3rd post: How To Install SuperNova Fishing Lights On Your Kayak
4th post: Install Scotty Flush Mounts on a Kayak
5th post: YackAttack GearTrack GT90 Install and Review
6th post: The Ultimate DIY Kayak Crate - Part 1
7th post: The Ultimate DIY Kayak Crate - Part 2
8th post: Silent Traction System Install
9th post: A Few Little Improvements To The Trident 13

I have put this post off because it has been done a hundred times. And yet, it is one of the most asked questions on kayak forums. "How do you use an anchor on a kayak?"

It is an important question because A) Most kayak anglers will need to use an anchor and B)  anchoring a kayak is dangerous.

When I say dangerous, I mean it can kill you if done improperly. If a strong current or large wave hits you while anchored incorrectly you will capsize. If you get tangled in a caught anchor when overboard,  you can drown. In some situations, even while wearing a PFD. Sometimes you have to move NOW to get out of the way of a boat or position yourself to take a wave. An anchor will prevent you from doing this.

So, what are the considerations when using an anchor in a kayak?

First, the anchor needs to be attached to your bow or stern. This will allow you to ride out a wave or current. If it is attached to the side of your boat, a wave or strong current can flip your kayak very easily. This creates a challenge as most kayakers do not have easy access to their bow or stern while paddling.  There are a couple ways to combat this, but I believe the best way is with an anchor trolley.

An anchor trolley is a loop of rope attached at one end to either or bow or stern and the other end to the side of your boat where you can reach it. The loop of rope has a ring tied on it. You attach your anchor line to this ring and then by pulling on the loop of rope, run the ring to the front (or rear) of you kayak.  It is confusing to explain, but actually quite simple.

There are a lot of fancy anchor trolley designs out there. You can even buy a pre-made kit like this one.  A lot of them use pulleys. I prefer to keep things simple, pulleys bind at the most inopportune times and complex things are hard to repair in the field.

My anchor trolley is simply made of Paracord , a two Stainless Steel Rings , a Pad Eye , three Carabiners , and a Cutting Board .

I actually put two anchor trolleys on my Trindent 13, one for the stern and one for the bow. This way I can point myself in any direction I want.

I started out by adding a pad eye to the bow of my kayak and running a carabiner through it. Then I attached one end of my trolley rope to the carabiner.

At the other end, right where my elbow is when I an sitting, I added another carabiner. I was able to attach it to existing hardware on my boat. You may need to add a pad eye here. Again, I ran the trolley rope through the carabiner. Here is another picture of this:

Yes, my kayak is always this dirty. 
The rear anchor trolley is very similar except instead of adding a pad eye to the rear, I made a mount out of a cheap peace of cutting board and attached it to the rudder mount.

This allows me to get the anchor all the way to the back.

This solves the problem of keeping our anchor to the bow or stern, but how do we keep from getting caught up in our anchor?

We have to create a quick disconnect. This is vitally important. There will come a time when you will need to dump your anchor. You will either need to get out of the way of something FAST, or you will hook a big fish and want to go for a sleigh ride (one of the most exciting parts of kayak fishing).

This is how I do it: (Warning: it is slightly complex.)

That is the big picture, lets zoom into the important part.

Take your anchor line and create a loop. Run that loop though your trolley ring, position your anchor trolley to the stern or bow, and cleat it off. Now, if you need to dump your anchor, you just have to un-cleat it. The loop will pull itself out of the ring.

The cleat I currently have installed is a Zig-Zag Cleat .

This is not the best. It is much faster to disconnect a Cam Cleat . I will be making this upgrade soon.

As for the anchor itself, I use a homemade one.

I just used some scrap metal I had laying around and welded it up. It works as well as those collapsible anchors and is lighter. A kayak anchor does not have to be heavy, it just has to be able to grip the sea floor. This is why makeshift anchors like bum-bells do not work well.

Notice how the anchor rope is tied to the front of the anchor and then attached to the end of the anchor with a piece of 20 pound mono. This is so that if my anchor gets caught, I can pull hard and break the 20 pound mono. This will reverse where the anchor is being pulled and release it.

Also notice that instead of threading the anchor rope through the Float , I attached the float with a carabiner. This prevents the float from knocking against my hull when the anchor is out. You need a Float so that you can recover you anchor if you ever need to dump it.

The anchor rope itself is simple nylon rope . Do not use rope sold as "anchor rope" in stores. This is usually floating rope which is very dangerous to a kayaker. If you flip you kayak, all of that floating rope will be floating around you, making it easy to get tangled up.

Remember, you need three times the depth you are anchoring in rope to get a good hold. So if you are anchoring in 10 feet of water, you need 30 feet of rope out. I keep 50' of rope always attached to my anchor. If I need more, I simply tie on another 50' with a strong knot.

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