All about anchors
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Sun Jan 28, 2018 at 3:15pm

A short guide to anchors on Narrowboats

Never go on a river or commercial waterway without a sufficiently heavy anchor attached and ready for immediate use. A strong anchor chain or rope (or combination) should be attached. The length of the anchor and chain should be at least five times as long as the deepest part of the river.  Make sure the cable is secured firmly to a strong anchorage point. If the engine fails, you will need to anchor your boat to prevent it from possibly being swept away.

Which Anchor to use.

The most popular type of anchor for inland waterways is the Danforth.

This type of anchor is designed to lie naturally on the river bed so the flukes face downwards so the pulling force makes the anchor bed in and bury itself in the mud/sandy bottom.The pulling force needs to be at a shallow angle so it does not lift too much the securing arm too high thus lifting the anchor off the river bed.

For this reason a heavy chain with additional rope needs to be attached. The amount of rope you should put out is circa 5 times the depth of water. It is a good idea to have a very sharp knife available close to the point where the rope is secured to the boat, just in case of an emergency and you have to cut loose the anchor. You don't have to take it for granted that the anchor has to be thrown in from the bow, in an emergency it can be beneficial to deploy the anchor from the stern, as this will stop the vessel much quicker than a bow launch. As this stern launch will save time and distance as the boat will not turn 180 degrees.

Other types and patterns of anchors.


To raise the anchor

This requires the forward motion of the boat towards the anchor bringing the anchor rope in as the vessel travels forward. When the boat is vertical to the anchor the anchor can easily by pulled up.

Size of anchor and chain.

Narrowboat Length (ft)        Anchor Weight (kg)                Chain/warp (mm)

30                                                    7 -10                                         8 - 12 

45                                                    8 - 12                                        8 - 14

60                                                   12 - 16                                      10 -18

70                                                   14 - 18                                      10 -20


Common Anchoring Mistakes:

  • Letting the anchor go without securing the line to the boat.
  • Letting the anchor go with your foot wrapped in the anchor line.
  • Poor communication between the captain and person in the bow.


Hope this short guide and insight gives you an indication on anchoring your vessel.

Happy cruising from all at Venetian Marina.

Other Recent Posts


Willie | Tue Jan 30, 2018 at 8:38am
Good information, were thinking about getting one for later on for crusing further afield, this gives us information we require to get it right first time.
Steve | Wed Oct 3, 2018 at 10:22pm
Good information.....I would however question your comment about where to deploy your anchor from.......if heading downstream tbe stern is correct, but heading up current from the bow is better ....(or the boat will swing thought 180 degrees)
David | Tue Feb 25, 2020 at 9:53am
Am I reading your anchor info correctly?We have a 43ft steel narrowboat about to travel on the Nene and Great Ouse. Would the following anchor be appropriate? Danforth anchor 10kg with 4m of 10mm chain and 20m of rope?Please suggest correct details if the above are not right.Thank you. David
Jason Walton | Sun Dec 20, 2020 at 10:30pm
Hello, thank you for your helpful page on anchors. Do you sell anchors? If so what would you recommend for my widebeam please? She is a 70ft x 12ft Elton Moss, about 40 tonnes (thick hull + a wheelhouse). I plan to move her to the non-tidal Thames (near Windsor) and currently don’t have an anchor. Obviously I also need to consider what I can deploy, weight-wise. Many thanks, Jason
glenn heaton | Sat Jan 2, 2021 at 10:08pm
what about using rond anchors for canal- side mooring?

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