You may have attended a kite festival and seen kites flying freely in the sky but without a person holding on to them. Don’t worry, it’s called anchoring a kite!
To anchor a kite, you will need to know how much space you have, wind strength or speeds, how stable these wind speeds are, and the type and size of kite(s) that you plan to fly while anchored.
Anchoring a kite can be as simple as tying down the kite line to a heavy object, or it can be a more complicated system of 2 stakes driven into the ground, and kite line tied to them.
Why should you anchor a kite? Large kites can launch extremely quickly and unexpectedly, especially in fresh winds. This can hurt your hands if you are holding on to the kite line. If you are by yourself, anchoring a kite before launching it can give you better control of the kite. Finally, organizers of kite festivals may require you to anchor your kite as it can be dangerous to run around in crowded spaces with a kite line.
Factors to Consider
Space / Location
When you want to anchor your kite, consider your location, as this will have different ground types which will affect how you anchor or tie down your kite.
If you are at the beach, consider using sand anchors or bags of sand to anchor your kite.
Sand anchors work by using the ever-present sand at beaches in a container as a weight. This ‘container’ is usually a piece of square fabric that sits in a hole. It is usually connected to your kite line with straps and a carabiner.
If you are at a park with grass turf, use stakes with a loop on one of the ends to anchor your kite. The size of your stake(s) will depend on the size of your kite, which affects how much it will pull.
The stakes in the image above can be easily bought from hardware stores or a pet shop.
You can also use garden stakes like the image above. Keep in mind that these can be easily pulled out of the ground if winds are strong.
Depending on how much space you have available, anchoring your kite might be a wise option. While kite festivals are usually held at large, open, flat spaces, organizers can request that kite fliers anchor their kites.
Anchoring a kite prevents running to either launch or keep a kite in the air. It is dangerous to run in a crowded area with a length of kite line and a kite behind you as someone can get tangled in your kite line or kite. You could also end up tangled in someone else’s kite line or kite if you’re not careful.
Wind Speeds and Stability
A constant wind is required to keep your kite in the sky. Sudden changes in wind speed can either cause your kite to pull harder, or crash to the ground. Either way, it is cause to check your kite and anchor often.
With a sudden gust, your anchor could be pulled free from the ground and drag along the ground. This can cause injuries if your anchor hits someone, or someone can get tangled up in your kite line and get dragged along.
Wind direction is also an important factor to keep your eye on. A sudden change in wind direction can also pull your anchor free from the ground, or worse, snap your kite line if it’s not rated for the amount of pull being generated.
Types and Sizes of Kite(s)
With a larger kite, you will require a heavier anchor, along with kite line with suitable breaking strain. The type of kite will also affect how much it pulls – for example, box kites and sled kites pull much more strongly and at a higher angle of attack than a diamond or delta kite.
Heavier anchors can include heavy duty stakes, which are usually thicker. Sand anchors can be bigger squares with heavy material.
A kite line’s strength is also important in anchoring a kite. It is also known as the ‘breaking strain’. A breaking strain is the amount of force which can cause something to break. Various materials, such as lines and ropes, have a specified breaking strain.
Your local kite shop or kite flying group will be able to advise you on the breaking strain on various types of kite lines, however, a good rule of thumb is 3 lbs of breaking strain for every square foot of sail area of kite.
If you are using simple cotton string, keep in mind that it can fray or break if wet; it can also wear out quickly if not kept well. Always check your kite line for any frays or weak points before launching your kite.
Regardless of how you decide to anchor your kite, make sure that you keep an eye on your kite especially when there is a change in wind direction or speed, as any changes can cause your kite to crash or pull hard. If the wind picks up, it can lead to your anchor being lifted into the air, or your kite line snapping and potentially injuring someone.
How to Anchor a Kite
If you fly your kite(s) regularly at a sandy beach, it will be worth investing in sand anchors. Sand anchors usually have a square of fabric with straps on its 4 corners that can be held together with a carabiner. Your kite line is then attached to the carabiner.
Equipment that you will need:
- Sand anchor with straps
- Carabiner at least 500 pounds (or more if you know how big your kite is)
The following are steps to use a sand anchor:
- Find a large empty area on the beach away from obstructions such as trees and structures.
- Dig a hole in the sand, making sure to dig the downwind edge of the hole as steeply as possible.
- Lay the sand anchor in the hole with straps on the bottom. This allows the fabric square to bear the load instead of the straps.
- Shovel sand back into the hole on top of the fabric square. Heavier kites will require more sand. If you are running out of sand, you can always wet the sand for extra weight.
- Connect the straps together with a carabiner – larger kites will require stronger carabiners, so always check with the company or store that you are buying them from.
- Connect your kite line to the carabiner.
- Test the sturdiness of your setup by tugging on the straps – it shouldn’t move the anchor – before launching your kite
If your kite is moving the sand anchor slightly, you can use more sand to weigh it down. Alternatively, you can use a second sand anchor to ensure that your kite stays anchored. If you are finding that you need a 3rd sand anchor (i.e. both sand anchors are moving with your kite in the air), you should bring your kite down as quickly and safely as possible as the wind might be too strong to fly your kite safely.
Stakes are much better in parks where there is grass or packed down soil. This is because sand is movable and will move around a stake, which reduces its efficiency as an anchor.
We recommend stakes with a loop on one end so that if you secure your kite line to it with a simple knot, it is much more difficult for your kite line to come free.
Equipment that you will need:
- Dog stake or safety stake, preferably with a loop on one end, and a corkscrew end that goes into the ground
- Optional: Carabiner rated at least 500 pounds (or more if you know how big your kite is)
The following are steps to use a stake as an anchor:
- Find a patch of grass turf or packed down dirt/soil, with little obstructions (i.e. trees, structures, power lines) around.
- Pointing the corkscrew end into the ground, twist the dog stake continuously to anchor it in the ground.
- Attach your kite line either to the stake directly, or to a carabiner that is attached to the stake. You can use a larkshead knot to secure your kite line to either the stake or carabiner.
In the video below, a figure-of-8 ring is used as well, which can be a bit more advanced for beginners to anchoring. However, the basic concept of anchoring with a stake is explored and I encourage you to watch the video if you are unsure.
If you have a light or small kite, you can use a bucket or a container filled with dirt or sand or even water as an anchor for your kite. If your container has a handle, you can tie your kite line to the handle. If you are at the beach, you can always put your kite reel underneath the filled container, and then pack the sides down with more sand!
Alternatively, if you are unable to find a container to pile sand in, a heavy rock can be handy as well. You can put a few turns of kite line around it, making sure that the edges of the rock does not cut your kite line or cause it to fray.
At a park, it may not be easy to find a rock to anchor your kite if you don’t have any stakes. If you are near a tree or pole, you could also wind your kite line multiple times around a branch or the pole as a temporary anchor. I say temporary as you don’t want your kite to suddenly crash into the very same tree or pole that you’ve anchored it to; if the branch snaps off due to a sudden gust, you may be looking at a very dangerous missile.
We hope that you will have as much fun flying an anchored kite as we have writing this article for you. We want you and those around you to be safe while flying a kite, so here are some safety reminders if you choose to anchor a kite.
- Check your anchor frequently.
- Always set up your anchor before flying.
- If you are a beginner, always ask for help if you are unsure about something.
- Be sure your flying and launching area is clear of people and obstructions.
- Double check your anchor before launching your kite.
- Be sure your flying line (and carabiner, if you’re using them) is sufficient for the load it is carrying.
- Be sure that you have the ability to retrieve your kite after it is launched.