Anchor Terminology

Anchor A-Cockbill

The term Anchor A-Cockbill is used when a anchor hangs vertically from the hawse pipe, with its flukes turned towards the ships side and will not stow correctly in the hawse pipe in this position.

Anchor Aweigh

The anchor is said to be 'A-Weigh' when it breaks out of the ground and clear of the sea bed.

Anchor Buoy

Anchor buoy is used to indicate the position of the ship's anchor when on the bottom.

Anchor Coming Home

When the anchor is being drawn towards the ship in the operation of heaving away, by means of the windlass or cable holder/capstan, the anchor is said to be coming home. Instead of the ship being drawn towards the anchor, the reverse is happening.

Anchor Dragging

The anchor is said to be dragging when it is not held in the sea bed. It is said to bite well when it has a good hold in the ground. The vessel is 'dragging her anchor' if she moves her position while dragging the anchor over the sea bed./p>

Anchor Warp

The term used to a hawser or rope when it is attached to the anchor and used as a temporary cable.

Brought Up

A vessel is said to be brought up when her way has stopped and she is riding to her anchor, with the anchor holding. The terms 'come to' and 'got her cable' are sometimes used to mean the same thing. The officer in charge of an anchor party will know when the vessel is brought up, by the cable rising up from the surface towards the hawse pipe when the brake is holding it. The vessel should then move towards the anchor, causing the cable to drop back and make a catenary.

Cable Clench

A strong steel forged fitting in the cable locker which is used for securing the 'bitter end' of the cable

Cable Jack

A device used for lifting the cable clear of the deck

Cat the Anchor

The anchor is said to be catted when hung off, from what used to be called the clump cathead. More modern vessels will be fitted with a pipe lead set back from the line of the hawse pipe and used for the purpose of 'hanging off an anchor'. Found in practice when mooring to buoys by means of mooring shackles with the cable.

Chain Hook

A long iron hook used for the manhandling of cable links


Occurs when the cables are fouled as in foul hawse, when the ship has swung through 180° a cross being formed with the two cables

Drop an Anchor Under Foot

Letting an anchor go to the bottom, then holding on to the brake. This is sometimes done to steady the ship's head and prevent her yawing about when lying to a single anchor. Care must be taken in this operation that the second anchor is let go when the riding cable is growing right ahead, and not when it leads off the bow.


Occurs when the cables are fouled as in 'foul hawse'. When the ship has swung through 360°, an elbow is formed in the anchor cables

Foul Anchor

The term used to describe the anchor when it has become caught on an underwater obstruction. The flukes of the anchor often become fouled by an old hawser or cable, obstructing its normal use.

Foul Hawse

This term is used to describe the crossing of the anchor cables, when both cables are being used at the same time, as with a running, standing or open moor, owing to the uncontrolled swinging of the vessel when anchored with both anchors (moored).


The cable is said to grow when the exposed part of the chain above the surface, is seen to expand towards the anchor.


The vertical wheel on the windlass which the cable passes over. The cable is held in the segments of the wheel known as the ‘snug'. The gypsy is held by the clutch plate (when in gear) or by the brake (when about to be let go).

Hawse Pipes

The two pipes on either bow which accommodate the bow anchors. Some vessels may be equipped with a stern anchor. The term hawse pipe is in general use for the stowage space for the anchors of a vessel.

Hove in Sight

When the anchor is hove home, it is 'sighted and clear' at the point when the anchor crown shackle breaks the surface of the water. A prudent officer would not consider that the anchor is clear until he sees that the flukes are clear. On the same basis an officer in charge of an anchor party tends not to ring anchor aweigh until he sees the anchor is hove in sight and clear.

Joggle Shackle

May be described as a long bent shackle, used for hauling cable round the bow . Sometimes encountered when clearing a foul hawse or other similar operation in moving of cable.


Moving a vessel by means of small anchors and anchor warps.

Long Stay

The term applicable when the cable is leading down to the water close to the horizontal, with weight on it. A good length of the cable is exposed.


A vessel is said to be moored when she has two anchors down to the sea bed.

Ream a Shackle

To clean away any residual lead left inside the lug of a shackle after the lead pellet and spile pin have been removed, by use of a reaming tool.

Render Cable

To apply the brake lightly so that when weight comes on the cable it will run out slowly.

Round Turn

Occurs when the cables are fouled as in 'foul hawse', when the ship has swung through 720° or twice round.


Is the name given to the amount of anchor cable payed out from the hawse pipe to the anchor crown 'D' shackle.


When applied to a vessel at anchor, sheer is an angular movement of the vessel about the hawse pipe point, it can be deliberately caused by applied helm to port or starboard.

Sheet Anchor

An additional anchor carried by larger vessels, a practice largely discontinued (not to be confused with the spare anchor carried by the majority of vessels).

Shorten Cable

To heave in a portion of the cable, so reducing the scope.

Short Stay

The cable is said to be at short stay when the anchor is hove in close to the ship's side and not over-extended. The cable is not up and down in this position.


To snub the cable is to stop the cable running out by applying the brake. A vessel is said to snub round on her anchor when she checks the paying out of the cable by applying the brake on the windlass, so causing the cable to act as a spring, turning the bow smartly in the direction of the cable.

Spurling Pipes

Also termed as 'navel pipes' in the Royal Navy, the cable passes through these pipes from the windlass or cable holder to the cable locker.


To allow the cable or hawser to run out under its own weight. The term is often used when handling mooring ropes on drum ends. (You should not surge on man-made fibre ropes, because of the possibility of heat/ friction causing the yarns/strands to fuse.)

Tide Rode

A vessel is said to be tide rode when she is riding at anchor head to tide.

Up and Down

The cable is said to be up and down when the angle the cable makes with the water surface is 90°, usually just before anchor aweigh.

Veer Cable

To pay out cable under power, by walking back the gypsy of the windlass.

Walk Back the Anchor

To lower the anchor under power.

Wind Rode

A vessel is said to be wind rode when she is riding at anchor head to wind.


A vessel is said to 'yaw' when at anchor when she moves to port and starboard of the anchor position under the influence of wind and/or tide. Yawing should not be confused with sheering.


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