How to Use an Anchor Riding Sail


Have you been sailing at anchor? This oxymoronic phrase refers to the swinging back and forth that can happen if the wind picks up at an anchorage. Not only does this phenomenon lead to an uncomfortable nights sleep, it puts you at risk of swinging into a nearby boat and weakens your anchor’s grip. An effective and easy fix for this problem is to use an anchor riding sail.

Why do you swing at all? Well, for most boats, the center of windage on the topsides and rigging is forward from the underwater center of gravity. This means you can easily drift backwards in a gust and have your aft end carried 30 or 40 degrees to one side. The anchor riding sail is a small mizzen that is rigged on the backstay. With this sail rigged, when the wind blows the sail catches the air and acts as resistance to keep the boat head to wind.

The key to an anchor riding sail solving your swinging problem is proper rigging. First, the sail should be hoisted on the backstay. If your backstay is split, hoist the sail on either side. The sail will work even if your backstay is at an angle. A common mistake is to sheet the sail too straight. You actually want to go forward to one side of the boat. This will sail the boat to one side of the anchor rode, but once to the side it will hold its position steady.

If you’re more visual, here’s a video demonstration of how to rig an anchor riding sail.


An anchor riding sail just might do the trick to stop your boat from sailing at anchor. Finished sails are available from the Sailrite Loft or you can make your own! Complete kits to make your own anchor riding sail and a video to walk you through the process are available at

Do you use an anchor riding sail to prevent swinging? Do you have another method? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: