How To Anchor A Pontoon Boat

How To Anchor A Pontoon Boat | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

December 16, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Anchor ropes should be five times the depth of the water you wish to anchor in.
  • A winch can help keep the rode line unkinked and straight.
  • Never toss an anchor overboard.
  • Always anchor with the front of the boat pointing into the wind or current.

Being on the water in a pontoon boat can be a great way to spend an afternoon, but what if you want to drop anchor? How do you anchor a pontoon boat?

Anchoring a pontoon boat is relatively easy, but it is essential to remember a few things.

  • Decide where you want to anchor and pull up to the spot.
  • Turning off the ignition, use a depth finder to determine how much cable is needed.
  • Tie the rode to the mooring and lower the anchor slowly
  • Check to ensure the anchor is holding.
  • Retrieve the anchor slowly so the side of the boat won’t get scraped.

While the versatility of a pontoon boat allows for a lot of different activities on the water, there are times when you will want to park the boat in a spot and sit there. Whether it is anchoring the boat in a favorite fishing spot or just putting down an anchor in a cove to rest and relax for the evening, you need to know how to keep your boat from drifting. The last thing you want is to encounter difficulty on the water because you didn’t take the time to learn a few basics about anchoring your new pontoon boat.


Table of contents

What Kinds of Equipment do You Need to Anchor a Pontoon Boat?

Several things are beneficial in successfully anchoring a pontoon boat. The following list of equipment can make dropping an anchor much more manageable.

Anchor and an Anchor Rode

You will need an anchor and a rode (the line that runs from the boat to the anchor). Most pontoon boats will come with an anchor from the manufacturer, but these anchors may need to be more robust to keep your boat from drifting in a strong wind. (Although, you should think twice about boating in a strong wind with a pontoon boat anyway).

The type of anchor you need for your situation will depend on what kind of lake, river, or sea bottom you are dealing with. Consult with your manufacturer or local marine dealer for specific recommendations.

The rode needs to be five to seven times the depth of the water. (Most boat owners have 150 to 200 feet of anchor line just to be safe).  Anchoring in open water is much more complicated than in a cove or next to a dock, so choose the length of your rope wisely.

Depth Finder

This is a beautiful tool for calculating how much cable or rope you need to anchor your boat. A depth finder bounces sound waves off the lake or river bed and then uses that to calculate the depth. This information can give you the specific details you need to decide where it is best to drop anchor.

Secondary Anchor

Many pontoon boat owners will install a secondary anchor and winch on the opposite side of the factory-installed unit. This dual anchor system helps should the first one not hold or in strong winds than might affect anchoring.

Electric Winch

Having your anchor and rode attached to a winch is always a good idea. A winch helps lower the anchor at a certain speed and keeps the rope from getting tangled.

Should a winch not be possible, be sure to store the rode in a place where people won’t trip over it as they walk around the deck.

Where is the Anchor Located?

Most pontoon boats with mechanical winch anchors have them at the rear of the boat near the location of the battery.

How Do You Anchor A Pontoon Boat?

Here are some simple steps to perform when anchoring a pontoon boat.

Decide Where You Want To Anchor.

Choose the spot that you want to anchor before you get to the spot. Be sure to stay clear of rock formations or the shoreline unless you intend to anchor there. It is a good idea to point your boat in the direction of the wind or current.

Pull Up to the Spot and Use the Depth Finder

Pull your boat up to the spot you wish to anchor and check the depth finder information, so you will know how much rope or chain you need to drop. If the depth is too great or you discover that the spot isn’t what you had first thought about, choose a different spot.

Pull Up to the Spot and Turn Off Your Boat’s Engine

You will want to turn the engine off so your boat will only move as much as it needs to. The pontoon will drift slightly as you lower the anchor, but it shouldn’t move too far away from the chosen spot. Some boat owners leave their boat idling, just in case something happens and they need to choose a different spot.

Tie the Rode to the Pontoon Boat

Many pontoon boats have moorings on the sides, which can tie to docks and piers. If your boat does not come with an electric-powered anchor, you will need to tie the end of the anchor rope to one of the built-in tie-downs. Make sure that knot is secure.

Lower the Anchor Slowly

You should never toss your anchor over into the water, but instead, lower the anchor slowly. Tossing the anchor can tip the boat unexpectedly for guests and even get the line caught on something.  A gentle, slower approach helps keep the line unkinked and makes the operation less fearful for everyone involved.

Make Sure the Anchor Takes Hold

Let the anchor drift to the bottom of the lake or riverbed. Make sure the anchor has settled onto the bottom and is performing adequately. (Picking a landmark in the distance and seeing if the boat drifts away. Periodically check this reference point to ensure the anchor is holding.

How Do You Pull An Anchor Up from the Water?

The procedure for retrieving an anchor from the bottom of the lake or river bed should be done in much the same way as it was lower. Let the winch do the work slowly so that the anchor does not scrape the side of your boat as it raises.

What Happens if the Anchor Doesn’t Seem to Work?

You can choose another spot or drop a second anchor if the anchor isn't holding.

Try to determine why the anchor isn’t working as it should so that you can make the appropriate adjustments. (For example, if the wind is too strong, then you might want to choose a more secluded spot).

How Much of an Anchor Do I Need?

Generally, a pontoon boat will need an anchor of 90 - 125 pounds of holding power to hold a position in moderate winds (20 mph or less). It will take less holding power to anchor in a quiet cove than out in the open lake in an emergency. Many pontoon boats carry two different size anchors, one for soft holds in coves and secluded calm waters and another for more robust, overnight, or open water anchoring.

How To Anchor A Pontoon Boat
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

Read more articles

by this author

Home /

How To Anchor A Pontoon Boat

How To Anchor A Pontoon Boat
7 Best Places To Liveaboard A Sailboat >>Can You Live On A Sailboat Year Round? >>

Most Recent

Important Legal Info

Similar Posts

Popular Posts

Get The Best Sailing Content

Welcome aboard! Check your email...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

(866) 342-SAIL

© 2024 Life of Sailing
Address: 11816 Inwood Rd #3024 Dallas, TX 75244
DisclaimerPrivacy Policy