May 27, 2008


No other single piece of equipment is so well discussed (and debated) by all pleasure boaters as anchors. On a given weekend, while working on deck, I have often heard somebody come by and make a comment about anchors on boats – I had a Delta 55# as my primary anchor on a 26,000# Ingrid 38 Ketch which stood out as a heavy anchor. Power boaters and sailors alike debate design, size, usage and holding power of anchors. An anchor can allow you to sleep well or it can destroy a trip or vessel. No other single piece of equipment will put a vessel in as immediate danger as when you are counting on your anchor; and your anchor fails to hold. A proper anchor will hold you to the bottom when you are drifting without a motor, while sleeping the night in a cove or weathering out a storm off a wave washed shore. An anchor also allows you to explore and overnight in places with no docks, mooring buoys; off the beaten path.

Kedge, Dabforth, Plow and mushroom anchors

Anchor History

1300 – 1800 BC

Early anchors are thought to be rocks tied to rope and there is archaeological evidence dating from the Bronze Age to support this. For over 3000 years, anchors consisted of using a great mass to hold a vessel at anchor. In 1637, the “Sovereign of the Seas,”  at 1600 tons, carried 12 anchors of 4000 pounds each! It was during the 1600’s that two goals were combined to make anchors what they are today, a penetrating point (from the hook) and a reasonable mass.

1846 – Kedge Anchor

Kedge, fisherman, traditional anchors at Go2marine

The fisherman, yachtsman, or kedge, anchor works well in sand and mud, and is better in hard bottoms and grass than other anchors. The design is a non-burying type, with one arm penetrating the seabed and the other arm standing proud. The kedge anchor is popular as the ultimate storm anchor. It has stood the test of time and is still built today, in a virtually unchanged form.

1933 – Plow Anchor

Plow anchors at Go2marine

Popular cruising anchors, the plow anchors include the old cruising standard CQR ‘secure’ – “Coastal Quick Release” and the modern Delta. They get their name from the plow shape witch digs in well and this anchor will reset itself if a change in pull trips it. Although it may not bury in hard bottoms, this anchor is more effective in grass than other lightweight anchors. This anchor is hard to stow, except on a bow roller.

1943 – Fluke Design

fluke anchors at Go2marine

The Danforth is lightweight compared to its holding power, the Danforth is superb in sand and mud, and its flat configuration makes it easy to carry aboard. The Danforth doesn’t set well in hard bottoms, and sea grass can keep it from reaching the bottom. There are many similar lightweight fluke anchors on the market, including the Fortress, which is aluminum. In a strong current, the broad flukes of the Danforth and similar fluke anchors can make them sail through the water rather than sink to the bottom.

1970’s – Claw Anchors

Claw Anchors at Go2marine

Claw and Manta anchors are originally based on the Bruce anchor; the anchor designed to keep North Sea Rigs in their place. The Claw style anchor will reset itself if tripped. However, it doesn’t do well in hard bottoms, and the shape of the flukes makes it vulnerable to fouling in heavy grass. A fixed shank anchor that is harder to stow.

 Since the 1970’s, private pleasure boats have driven the popularity and design of modern anchors for small to medium sized vessels. Aluminum versions of Fluke Anchors, modern fixed shank plows like the Delta and Claw are all anchors that have received and furthered designs of older proven anchors.

You will need more than one Anchor abour a boat that spends any time away from the dock.

A 34 foot cruising sailboat might carry 4 anchors; a 35# Plow anchor (main), a 33# Claw (backup), a 50# Fisherman or 40# Fluke anchor (storm) and a 8.8# grapnel (lunch hook, dingy, dredging).

For a 34 foot weekender sailboat, you could carry one 45# plow – the Delta as a main anchor and a 40# fluke as a backup anchor.

A 35 foot power boat might carry 3 anchors; a 33# stainless steel Claw (main), a 40# Fluke (backup, storm) and a small grapple or fluke anchor (lunch hook, dingy, dredging).

Careful out there!

How do you choose from the wide array of windlasses on the market?

Important criteria to be considered in selecting the correct anchor windlass include the vessel size, displacement, windage, anchor size and rode selection. Practicalities such as locker space and depth of fall for the rode also play a part in deciding which windlass is ideal for you. Your windlass choice will likely be based on the following questions;

What size windlass will suit my boat?
What is your power source for the windlass?
Choosing the windlass design
I want to use chain and rope rode for anchoring, what do I need to consider?
What else do I have to consider?

The world of windlasses is changing. Electric windlasses have made manual windlasses nearly obsolete. The reliability of electric windlasses is now so high as to be considered for long distance cruising and nightly anchoring. Go2marine has the answers to the above questions to help you select the windlass that is right for you and your vessel.