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Thread: Capstan versus Using Anchor Retrieval Ball or Boat Winch?

  1. #1

    Default Capstan versus Using Anchor Retrieval Ball or Boat Winch?

    Just recently a boat was sunk on the Kansas River while using an anchor ball. Apparently, the gentleman released the anchor ball into the water in order to chase down a trophy catfish. Upon returning to the anchor ball / anchor, their prop got tangled in the anchor line. Actually, I believe it was the "tag" end, or line that was coming off the anchor ball. Apparently, the anchor ball didn't slide all the way to the end of the rope. Regardless, a lot of guys here in the Midwest (Kansas River, Missouri River and Mississippi) are reconsidering use of a Capstan versus an anchor retrieval ball. If the gentleman would of tied another ball or small buoy to the end of the line, most likely they could of seen the end. Although, from the reports it may have been part in between the ball and anchor that got caught in the propeller. Anyway, the discussion has gone into several directions regarding its safety, etc....

    So, I wanted to ask those on this site if they've had any experience with use of a capstan and how you like it? I know the use of an anchor retrieval buoy is great in a lake or ocean with minimal current, but on fast flowing rivers, there is a slight risk, as more and more people are reporting 'scary' experiences. Myself being one of them.

    I haven't made the change yet, but I was considering a Capstan versus a Boat Winch. I have a 22' SR ET, and no locker for the rope, so I was thinking of something that would be adaptable for my purpose.

    Any ideas, or experiences, recommendations is appreciated to keep myself safe on the river! Every time I go to retrieve my anchor, I get the 'pucker' factor, which is not fun because you don't know what to expect. I personally think the Anchor ball is a great item, but if I get another bad experience, I may have to switch over to a Capstan or Power Boat Winch.

  2. #2
    Member akjeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007


    Thanks for posting, this is great information.

    From your post it seems that boat didn't sink while retrieving the anchor. It sank returning to the anchor set after chasing a big fish. Using a capstan would not have changed a thing. Unless the plan is to pull anchor every time a big hook-up happens. Extreme caution and due diligence are always required when anchoring especially in current, be it a river or a tidal rip. My bet is they were not attached to the end of the rode and upon hooking up with the fish they tied the buoy on and let the rest of the rode run out into the water. Leaving an untold length drifting in the current. The current of a river will keep non-floating anchor rode, attached to a buoy, up near the surface. Unfortunately it was probably not the boat owner who was working the anchor, but a non-experienced friend or guest.

    Lets all be safe out there. Watch those buoys, keep an eye out for floating shrimp lines and keep a very sharp/serrated knife handy. Also think twice about attaching anything to your stern.

  3. #3
    Member russiarulez's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006


    Yeah I'm not seeing how a different anchor-pulling device would make any difference in this situation if you have to lose the anchor quickly.
    This is similar to what we experience up here in AK with regards to shrimp pots and floating rope. I always try to figure out which way the current/wind is moving when close to those buoys and look for floating rope.
    This sounds to me like more of an issue with the captain of the boat, rather than the buoy.


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