Here’s a simple trick I’ve used many times to clear a rope anchor rode caught on a keel. First, I get out my 15lb mushroom dinghy anchor and attach it to the snap shackle at the bottom of the big snatch block that I normally use as a sheet lead for my genoa. I then mouse the shackle with a light piece of line so it can’t pop open unexpectedly and attach a 40-foot retrieval line by tying a bowline to the top of the snatch block.
To clear the rode I pop open the snatch block, attach it to the rode, and then gently lower the block and mushroom anchor into the water until I feel the mushroom anchor bump into the keel. Then I pull the anchor about two feet aft. I loosely coil about 8 feet of retrieval line in my hand and secure the bitter end of the line to a lifeline. Meanwhile, a crew member takes about 15 feet of anchor rode out of the anchor well and loosely coils it on the deck. On my mark the crew takes the rode off the cleat and drops the coiled rode in front of the boat while I simultaneously drop the extra retrieval line in the water. The slack in the two lines allows the weighted rode to slide off the keel; the retrieval line can then be used to pull the snatch block and mushroom anchor up to the bow of the boat.
To do this singlehanded, depending on the conditions, I figure you would have to work the mushroom anchor back to the keel and drop considerably more anchor rode off the bow of the boat to allow more time to release the retrieval line.
Photo by David Emsellem