Can anyone I.D. these lines?

I have never seen these on any of the training ships, certainly never on the TSES and never on any ship I have ever sailed on… but they appear in many old photographs of vessels flying all flags. It looks like a tag line or wire on the aft fluke of the anchors leading up onto the deck. Was this to check the swing of the anchor once cleared from the hawse? Anyone know why we don’t see these much anymore?

Could it be a buoy to mark the anchor position? I’ve read about it somewhere but never seen it done.

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Probably to flip it around if it came backwards? That’s how I’d flip it around today if it came to it. Perhaps it was more common then?


I think it was less common then when a wooden mockup was made to check the anchor would run out and stow correctly. I have never rigged one.

I was in deck department on a carrier in the Navy and we had a few buoys and some line up in the foc’sle that was for marking the anchor’s position. I don’t remember that we ever rigged it, however. My guess is that is what it could be in the picture. But then again why rig it to the fluke.

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We did it all the time in the USCG. It is more a military thing.

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I did it in the Coast Guard also. We used our anchors a lot on a old single screw ship. We would drag it into a dock and heave on it to pull us off the dock.


I had to do it on 270’s in GITMO. No money for tugs and 40 kt on the dock wind. It worked well and having a buoy on the anchor so we knew its location helped.

I seen anchor buoys & vessels with goofed up anchors which resulted in the necessity of a line on them to help them settle correctly in the hawspipe. If the line in the picture was used for an anchor buoy its odd they would tie it around the fluke?

The picture is not finely grained; strongly magnifying it, around the anchor fluke, cannot show the exact passage of the line.
It is possible that the slack line just hangs over the fluke, and then goes into the hawse pipe…

i’ve seen it used sparsely on commercial fishing vessels in AK. Idea being that if it is lost it would be easier to retrieve.