A kedge anchor is the secondary anchor onboard a yacht. The primary anchor is usually located on the bow on a bow roller or, alternatively, in the anchor locker.
Kedge anchors are usually one size down from the yacht’s primary anchor and as such they are generally easier to use and recover. Of course, for the same reason, their holding capacity is less than the primary.
Kedge anchors can be used for a variety of reasons. One of the more popular is probably when you are anchoring for a short time (lunch perhaps) and conditions are benign. Hauling up a kedge anchor is likely to involve a lot less pulling as most kedge anchors are lighter and have perhaps only 5 - 7 metres of chain before warp. That’s assuming you don’t have an electric windlass. If racing, a tactical deployment of a kedge when punching foul tide in light airs might be an inspired and effective decision.
When cruising, the next most likely time to use a kedge anchor will be when you have wind and tide coming from different directions. In this event, using a kedge anchor off your midships cleat might help you angle your boat into the waves rather than sitting to the wind off just your bow anchor and rocking side to side all evening as the waves roll in abeam!
And if things go wrong and you end up aground, you can always set an anchor away from the boat and then use a winch to haul yourself off. If nothing else, setting an anchor quickly up tide can ensure that you don’t go further aground whilst waiting for the tide to come back!
In tight spots using a kedge from the beam or from astern can keep you from swinging over obstructions or reinforce holding by setting two anchors forwards at an angle of say 45 degrees. If you aren’t swinging, make sure that others using just one anchor are not going to swing onto you.
Kedge anchors should be easily accessed and easily deployed. Flatter anchors such as Danforth or Fortress. Chain should be attached to it for several metres so as to reduce chafe and improve holding and then multiplait nylon warp.