How To Anchor A Jet Ski In Deep Water

As an avid jet ski or personal watercraft (PWC) owner, you will be familiar with the rush of adrenaline as you open up the throttle in open water.

However, what happens if you get tired and feel the need to take a break? Or perhaps you just want to fish, or simply go for a snorkel or take a swim.

Anchoring in deep water is a skill, just like any other part of owning a jet ski, and it is best not left to chance. 

In this article, I will explain how to anchor your jet ski in deep water and give suggestions about the best anchor to use. 

What depth of water does a jet ski need?

Before we get into the discussion about anchoring, let us confirm what depth of water a jet ski needs to operate.

According to the experts, you should be operating your jet ski in a minimum depth of 36 inches or 3 feet. If you operate your jet ski in shallower water than this, then you are in danger of picking up debris and damaging your engine.

So how much is this depth in real terms? Waist deep is a good indicator.

In addition, make sure you know the waterway where you are operating your PWC.

Weather and water conditions all play a part. If you are using your PWC on the ocean, you must take into consideration any tidal differences.

Reasons for anchoring a jet ski in deep water

So why would you want to anchor your jet ski in deep water?  More than likely, you have a picture in your mind of jet skis zooming around on the water in a sun-drenched paradise.

We rarely picture them standing still or anchored to a dock. However, there may be times when you want or need to anchor in deep water. Some examples of these times include the following:


Fishing from a jet ski has become a sport in its own right. Many people have come to realize  that you can launch a jet ski much faster than a small boat, plus you do not need to take on any crew!

By fishing from your PWC rather than a boat,  you can get closer to the action. There are many, many methods and types of fishing, including freshwater, saltwater, shore, boat and from kayaks (source.) Fishing from jet skis is growing trend.

A PWC is also much smaller than a boat allowing you to take it closer into shore. Manufacturers have responded to growth in this segment by offering models specifically equipped for fishing, and accessories to make it easier some of which we list in that post.

An idyllic picnic in a secluded bay?

One of the advantages of owning a PWC is that you can access places that the crowds cannot.

Think of you and your loved one jetting off to a secluded location for an idyllic afternoon of picnicking, spending the afternoon leisurely swimming, and relaxing on a private beach.

There is no convenient launchpad or mooring

Often the coolest spots do not have a convenient launchpad or mooring buoy.

Or maybe your launchpad is busy with other jet skis and small boats launching or landing. Securely anchoring while you wait may be your only option.

To avoid having to beach your jet ski 

While you can land your PWC on the beach, most manufacturers do not recommend doing so.

Repeatedly landing your jet ski on a beach will eventually wear out the gel coat, and that is if you do not hit anything more substantial than the sand!

Shallow water also poses a threat that you will pick up sand or debris that will clog your impeller. 

If you want to learn more, read our article ‘How to Beach Your Jet Ski‘.

What is the best anchor for a jet ski?

It makes sense that your fellow boat owners are knowledgeable when it comes to anchors and going to them for advice is a good idea.

However, they may not be the best source of information. Boats are bigger than PWCs, and anchoring requirements are not the same. 

There is an abundance of different anchors for traditional boat owners to choose from. You will find that there are as many opinions as options regarding the most effective anchor.

Researching your options will enable you to make an informed decision to choose what anchor is best for you. 

With a PWC, things are slightly different than a boat. The confined storage space dictates that options for an anchor are more limited. But choosing the right anchor for your PWC can still be confusing. 

The anchor you choose will primarily depend on the type of water and the conditions in which you will be riding your PWC.

There are a few considerations to keep in mind before making a purchase. 

How big is your storage compartment? 

Storage capacity varies among the manufacturers as well as the different models. Some offer rear accessories to increase storage as well.

Whether you own a Sea-Doo, Yamaha, or Suzuki, make sure you know the size of your model’s storage compartment before you decide which anchor to buy. 

Your anchor needs to be lightweight

The weight of the anchor may seem obvious. After all, you do not want to slow down your jet ski by carrying unnecessary weight.

But lightweight anchors are easier to handle, and they will not bang around and damage your storage compartment.

However, bear in mind that lightweight anchors should only be used in light conditions or protected areas.

The conditions you can expect for the anchor holding.

It is essential for you to know the area where you are going to use your PWC.

Different anchors work in different conditions. Some anchors only work in shallow water, and others are more suited for deeper waters. Is the bottom going to be sand, rocks, or weed? 

Again different anchors have different characteristics. Remember to always research the expected conditions before you head out to be sure if you anchor it will hold.

The size and weight of your jet ski

Every jet ski model has different dimensions and different weights.

You will need to consider the weight of your PWC to make sure the anchor you choose will not only secure your PWC but also deal with any wind and waves.


When choosing an anchor, it is essential to keep in mind anchors are available in different sizes and weights (from lightweight to very heavy). 

The following types of anchors are the most common for your jet ski or PWC:

Sandbag anchor

A sandbag anchor is quite literally what it says – a bag that you fill with sand. Sandbag anchors are the most popular type of anchor for a PWC, but they are quite limited.

They are perfect for calm conditions in a protected area but are not recommended for choppy or rough conditions. 

They are popular as the empty bag does not take up too much space on your jet ski.

You simply fill it with sand and rocks from the beach to maximize the weight. When you are finished at the beach and ready to ride again, you just empty it back into the water!

Pro’s: It is lightweight and does not take up space.

Cons: You have to fill it with sand (source).

Fluke anchor

A fluke anchor is more commonly known as a Danforth anchor in boating circles.

This anchor is what most people will think of when we talk about anchors. It works well in both sand and muddy bottoms but maybe a bit overkill for your average recreational jet skier. 

You will need to add a generous amount of rope for deep water anchoring, so this system will take up valuable storage space and add weight to your jet ski. This anchor is best used by divers or your more serious fishermen.

Pro’s: They give good holding in open water.

Cons: They’re bulky and difficult to store (source).

Mushroom PWC anchor

A mushroom anchor is a lightweight anchor that is best used in a fine sandy or silt bed.

The mushroom anchor gets its name due to being shaped like an upside-down mushroom.

It works by burying itself into the seabed to the point where it has displaced its own weight, which significantly increases its holding power.

Go for the vinyl-coated variety, so that it does not damage your PWC when it is in the storage compartment. 

Pro’s: Lightweight and works well in fine sand.

Cons: Bulky to store and only works in light conditions.

Screw anchor

A screw anchor is like a giant corkscrew, which you literally have to screw into the bottom.

It is only efficient in shallow water or on land as you have to screw it manually into the ground. It does hold well, so if you need to leave your jet ski for a couple of hours, this system is recommended.

Pro’s: It is lightweight and easily stored.

Cons: It can only be used on land or in shallow water.

Folding anchor

Folding anchors are popular with PWC owners as they come in different sizes. As they are collapsible they are effortless to store in a small space.

They can be used in a variety of different bottom conditions like sand, mud, or even a rocky bottom and have good holding power.

Pro’s:  It is lightweight and very easy to store.

Cons: Because of their excellent holding power they can be difficult to recover.

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Popular brands of anchors

The following are among the top-rated available anchors of 2020 according to the MSN Lifestyle reviews. Click on the images for latest prices on Amazon.

Extreme Max 3006.6548 BoatTector Complete Grapnel Anchor Kit

This lightweight anchor kit is ideal for PWC’s, and will not take up too much space in your storage compartment.

This anchor holds well in coral, rocky, or weedy bottoms and is good for short term anchoring.

Gradient Fitness Marine Anchor, 3.5 Lb Folding Anchor, Grapnel Anchor Kit

This lightweight folding anchor kit is easy to use and easy to store away. It is suitable for most environments, including sandy, weedy, muddy, or rocky ground.

Extreme Max 3006.6628 BoatTector Sand Anchor Kit 

This sandbag anchor system is great for anchoring your PWC in shallow water.

The heavy-duty anchor bag can be filled with up to 35lbs of sand and rocks for good holding. 

Best Marine Kayak Anchor With 40ft Rope

This high quality galvanized folding iron anchor is 100% resistant to rust, which means no ugly marks in your storage compartment! It works best with a rocky or weedy bottom.

Sand Shark 18” sand anchor

This sand and beach anchor requires a little work to screw into the sand. But once you get it set, you can rest assured that your ski isn’t going anywhere. It comes both without and with anchor line and a convenient carrying bag.

Sand Shark Premium Bungee Dock And Anchor Line 

The Sand Shark Dock and Anchor line can be used as your bow anchor line for when you want to anchor your PWC in deep water.

Kwik Tek A-1 PWC Sand Anchor

The Kwik Tek sand anchor is another good option for when you want to anchor in shallow water

Seachoice 41160 PWC Fluke Anchor Kit

The Seachoice fluke anchor kit is a very convenient and portable anchoring solution for your PWC. It comes with 25 feet of rope, which gives enough line to anchor comfortably in 5 feet of water (source).

What is the maximum depth of water a PWC can be anchored in?

The maximum depth of water a PWC can be anchored in will depend on your type of anchor and how much rope you can carry.

Generally, you will need to apply the 5:1 ratio for the amount of rope (or scope) you need to securely anchor. The 5:1 ratio means that if you anchor in 3 feet of water, you should let out at least 15 feet of rope (or scope).

The scope is the amount of rope you let out in relation to the depth of the water. 

You must never just drop anchor and use the same amount of rope as the depth of water. Unless conditions are completely calm, you will almost certainly lose your jet ski or watch it slowly drift away.

The 5:1 rule is the minimum amount of rope to use to anchor your PWC safely. 

What do you have to do differently to anchor a jet ski in deep water? 

To safely and comfortably anchor your jet ski in deep water, you will need to come up with a system where your bow or the front of the jet ski always faces into the wind and the waves.

To do this, you will need to attach a rope or tether to the tow hook on the bow or front of your PWC to which you can attach your anchor line.

Try to put a system in place that enables you to drop anchor without having to be in the water. Use a float on your rope or tether so that you can easily retrieve it if you do happen to drop it in the water. 

Always be aware of your surroundings. Use a landmark as a marker to make sure you are not dragging your anchor or drifting. And always be mindful of the conditions and weather, including the wind direction, which can change at any time.

If the conditions change, be prepared to change your anchoring position (source).

Additional Considerations

While your choice of an anchor is relatively limited with a jet ski, it is still important to choose the right one for the job.

As we have already discussed, the water, weather, and bottom conditions of where you operate your jet ski will all play a part in your decision.  

The amount of storage space you have will play a significant role in your choice of an anchor. Although your storage space will be limited, you will need to take into consideration what else you need to take with you.

A lot of practical info for solo rider anchor management

What other safety equipment does your recreational boating authority require you to carry? 

You should always carry your cell phone, jet ski operater’s license, and registration. Emergencies occur and are unforeseen. Always be prepared.

An excellent way to carry all that you need is a ‘dry bag.’ This bag will safely store your phone and paperwork, keeping it dry. You may prefer to carry your phone and paperwork in a phone case around your neck.

However, the mobile phone case needs to be large enough and waterproof. Having it around your neck could also prove to be uncomfortable. And it will still sink to the bottom if dropped.

A ‘dry bag’ can be stored in any available compartment, safe and out of the way.

Other items you may consider bringing include a paddle, fishing gear, a cool box, freshwater and snorkeling gear. These items will need to find a place!

Final Thoughts

Once you know where you will be using your PWC, (saltwater or freshwater, lake or open ocean) and you have checked the size of your storage compartment, it should be fairly easy to choose the right anchor.

If you find that you are still unsure about which type of anchor to buy, you could always try a combination.

For instance, a sandbag anchor can also double up as a storage bag to use in conjunction with another type of anchor. 

Remember, you have already made the most difficult decision, which personal watercraft to purchase.

After that buying the right anchor should be a piece of cake! 

Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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