The anchoring issue of Good Old Boat (May/June 2021) was full of great tips. In it, technical editor Drew Frye showed us how to make a kellet—weight added to anchor rode itself, to decrease the angle between the rode and the bottom to improve holding and decrease boat movement–using a short length of chain. Great idea, but I’ve been using my own “hack” for a kellet for many years quite successfully using a small mushroom anchor, and the mushroom has various other uses, as well.

Aboard our 1989 MacGregor 26D, Thebote, we carry a Delta with 25-feet of chain and 150-feet of ⅜-inch, 3-strand rode in the bow, a hefty Danforth in the lazarette with six-feet of chain and 100-feet of 3-strand rode, a 10-pound mushroom on approximately 50 feet of inexpensive nylon rode, and another 150-feet of 3-strand anchor line used to tie up to things on shore that I call our “Mississippi River Anchor.” On that great river, one often “anchors” with his or her bow resting lightly on the beach.

Our MacGregor has a retractable rudder and daggerboard. We have 16-inches of draft amidship with all that up. Since most of our exploring is in freshwater lakes and rivers, we most often end up anchoring in tiny coves and creeks. Because our draft is so low, many times we’re able to back up to a beach and then step off the swim ladder. When we do this, we drop the Delta off the bow and then motor back until we can throw the mushroom ashore to pull us in. Once the boat has been pulled back to the desired spot, we’ll take up the slack in the Delta’s rode. The mushroom has little holding power unless buried deeply ashore, or wrapped around a big log, tree or rock. If we are staying in that spot for the night, we’ll let out line astern and pull some in on the bow to move away from the shore.

The mushroom anchor deployed from the stern is good for a quick “picnic” or swim stop in light air. Not to be used if dragging is going to be an issue. But it is easier to deal with than the bigger anchors, and the boat rarely yaws when anchored by the stern.

On the occasion in which we’ve anchored in deep water in a crowded anchorage, and we’re leery of moving differently than our neighbors (most of whom have far more chain), we use the mushroom anchor as a kellet. This is how we do it: We tie a bowline in the mushroom anchor rode next to the mushroom itself, through which passes the main anchor rode. Using the free end of the mushroom anchor line, we can then control its depth as we slide it down the main anchor rode. It also makes retrieving the mushroom anchor relatively simple.

Thebote, anchored traditionally, tends to want to “sail.” As Drew points out in his story on reducing a boat’s tendency to sail on anchor (“Twisting in the Wind,” May/June), underwater resistance is key. We often only have a foot of daggerboard down while on the hook, so we use a stern anchor (the Danforth or the line ashore) to hold us in place, as our primary concern is usually keeping the bow into the swell. We’ve had as many as five lines to hold us in place in a tiny rock-filled cove, but it was well worth it. We prefer solitude versus a full anchorage. An ordinary blue plastic tarp, rigged on the backstay, has also proven itself as a makeshift riding sail. (This is probably not a hack that’s appreciated in every anchorage, so use with discretion.) 

Aboard Thebote, we always keep a small mushroom anchor close by. It makes stopping for a lunch break or a swim a breeze, and, used in combination with our main anchor tackle, has proven itself to be just the catalyst to ensure a restful night on the hook.