Section 20 - Anchoring
First and foremost, know where you are dropping your anchor. Do not drop your anchor on coral or other marine life. The small size of the kayak anchor is no exception. I strongly advise against leaving your anchor down with the intention of pulling it up after you surface. If it gets caught you run the risk of having to "bounce dive" to retrieve it or having to cut the line and sacrifice your anchor. The folding anchor is no exception as it can snag even when folded up. Unlike a motorized vessel, it will be near impossible to paddle and stay on the up-current side of the anchor in a strong current in order to free it.
|There are two basic methods to dive from the kayak:|
|1. Anchoring (see methods 1 and 2 below)|
|2. Not Anchoring (descending with line)|
Anchoring - Method #1
Make a loop in the anchor line approximately 15 to 20 feet up from the anchor then chose one of the following options:
Option A - Clip the dive sausage, goody bag, lift bag rolled up, and anything else you don't want to descend with in your hands or BCD pockets to it . Put air in the dive sausage to keep it and the accessories off the bottom. The greater the depth the more air in the sausage as it will compress as it descends. Carefully drop your anchor and accessories. This method is preferred if you are carrying camera gear as it leaves your hands free to deal with the camera.
Option B - Drop the anchor without the accessories and bring them down with you then attach them to the loop in the line. There is less risk of the accessories dragging or tangling on the bottom as well as making it easier, if for any reason, you chose to abort the dive at this point. All you would have to retrieve is the anchor. If the current is strong there is a better chance of the anchor holding with this option.
Photo below shows the dive sausage, goody bag and lift bag (rolled up) approximately 15 to 20 feet up the line from the anchor. A small amount of air in the sausage keeps the gear off the bottom.
Let out at least twice as much more line as your depth. Make a loop in the line, then attach the kayak leash clip to the loop (Photo 1 below). Use a caribiner to connect the winder to the end of the kayak leash (Photo 1 below). It is important to let out at least twice as much scope as your depth if you are using a lift bag to send your anchor to the surface. You will need the scope to be able to hold onto the line without being pulled up with the lift bag. If you use Option B above make another loop in the line about 15 feet from the kayak leash clip connection and attach the slightly inflated sausage and accessories you will descend with (Photo 2 below). Do this prior to attaching the kayak leash and winder. When diving at deeper depths consider adding a small float (Photo 3 below) to the line at the halfway point. Be sure the float has a swivel on it or the line will twist. Make a loop in the line right after the anchor hits bottom and attach the float before letting out the scope. This will create a looping effect in the line (Photo 4 below) when the lift bag surfaces reducing any chance of the line snagging the bottom should the lift bag drift in next to the kayak.
Anchoring - Method #2 (for strong current situations)
|1. Drop the anchor (without the accessories as described in Option B above).|
|2. Let out a generous amount of scope on the line. The more scope you let out the better the anchor is likely to hold. A length of anchor chain is commonly used between the anchor and the line on most vessels but I feel it is too much extra weight to carry on a kayak, as well as not needed. If a deep dive, use the float at the halfway point in the line.|
|3. Make a loop in the line and attach the accessories (uninflated sausage this time, lift bag etc.)|
|4. Make another loop in the line about 15 feet from the accessory loop to connect the kayak leash clip to when ready.|
|5. Let out another 3 to 4 feet of line and tie off the lifejacket then clip the winder to the lifejacket with the caribiner.|
|6. Let the whole thing float and observe the current. Check and see how quickly you move away from the lifejacket. The current won't pull the anchor off target with just the lifejacket and accessories on it. This gives you an idea of what you are dealing with as far as the anchor holding.|
If their is little or no current, attach the kayak bow leash to the loop (underwater) in the anchor line. If the current appears strong, tying the kayak off to the anchor line may cause it to drag the anchor off your dive site. Paddle up-current from the floating lifejacket and gear up as much as possible at a fast, but safe, pace. Put the tank in the water and get into the BCD in time to drift or swim up on the lifejacket (a yellow one is an easy target here). Immediately connect the kayak leash to the loop you made in the anchor line (underwater), unhook your dive sausage and accessories (not shown), then drop down quickly before the kayak can drag the anchor off the site. Set the anchor securely when you reach the bottom.
This technique has worked for me every time. If you have a second kayak diver with you, have them connect their kayak to the back of your kayak when you start your descent. This is where the floating ring connection system comes in real handy (see "Anchor Connections" section). Your buddy should not be more than a few minutes behind you and therefore won't affect your bottom times by that much. As you pass the dive sausage on your descent put a tiny amount of air in it to keep it upright. This will give you a better fix on the anchor location as well as keeping the lift bag and goody bag off the bottom.
Regardless of the anchoring method you choose, the below photo depicts the sequence of loops and accessories on the anchor line when completely anchored.
The photo below shows the kayak being towed by a diver holding the anchor. The dive sausage and lift bag are placed on a slightly higher loop on the anchor line than the other accessories. The dive sausage is inflated enough to keep the accessories off the bottom. The lift bag is rolled up to prevent additional drag while towing the kayak. This "double loop" method makes the lift bag easier to get at and prevents it from getting tangled up amongst the other accessories. Always remember to deflate the dive sausage before sending up the lift bag. The dive sausage may explode from pressure depending on the depth. The lift bag needs so little air to make it ascend that there is plenty of room in it for expansion.
Drift while you are gearing up, then drop down carrying the winder with you, giving you control over the amount of line you let out. This method is okay for drift diving with no specific dive site. Use a caribiner or other large clip to connect the winder to your BCD or weight belt to keep your hands free. Roll the line up as you surface.
Surfacing from Methods 1 and 2
Just before surfacing deflate you BCD completely and unroll and inflate the lift bag just enough to start lifting the anchor. Hold the line as the anchor ascends without allowing it to pull you up with it. Pull the kayak towards you if possible. This is where a lot of line scope comes into play. After the lift bag reaches the surface re-inflate your BCD to your preference and ascend to the surface. Sending the anchor and accessories up this way allows you to have your hands free for a camera, speargun, or any emergency, as well as not becoming tangled in the anchor line while carrying it up with you. If you have speared fish, you can also send them up with the lift bag. It keeps those fish far away from you in the event something big and mean comes looking for them!
The anchor, goody bag, dive sausage and lift bag are shown here on the surface. Be sure the sausage is almost deflated before inflating the lift bag at deeper depths. The dive sausage in this photo self inflated as a result of ascending from a depth of 75 feet.
NOTE: Using your dive sausage on the anchor will require a second one to keep on your person in the event you become separated from your kayak and need rescuing.