Anchor & Docking
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Anchor & Docking
Which style or category of anchor?
Choose between the two most common anchor styles,
the fluke and the plow, or if your boating is in a small
boat, on protected inland waters, the inland type.
The most popular type of anchor is the
, also called the Lightweight or Danforth, which
includes the West Marine Traditional and Perfor-
mance2 anchors and is often the only anchor on
many smaller boats. Light and easy to weigh, it
stows flat and holds well in mud or sand. Its excel-
lent holding power-to-weight ratio means you can
use a lighter anchor compared to other types, but
it doesn't hold well in grassy or rocky surfaces. Its
flukes and stock (the wide crossbar at the top) are
more prone to foul on rocks or the anchor rode.
Plow and Scoop anchors
, the "single point" style
represented by the Manson Supreme, Rocna, CQR,
Delta and Claw have the best all-around holding abil-
ity in varying bottom conditions. They generally reset
themselves easily if the wind or current changes direc-
tion. The newest "scoop" designs, like the Manson and
Rocna anchors, include round "roll bars" that self-right
the anchor, automatically turning it right side up.
Plow/scoop anchors hold more effectively than light-
weight fluke anchors in grass, mud and sand. They
do not have projecting flukes that foul easily, but their
shape makes stowing them awkward (a bow-roller or
bowsprit is the best solution). Heavier powerboats and
cruising sailboats often use plows as primary anchors.
Use two anchors of different styles
Most boating experts agree that, for greatest an-
choring security, you should carry two anchors-of
different styles-one each of the Danforth style and
the plow/scoop variety. The type of bottom-mud,
grass, sand, coral or rock-will dictate different
choices of anchors, as will the size and windage
of the boat, the wind conditions and the seastate.
Some anchoring situations also call for more than
one anchor to be used simultaneously.
You sometimes need to set two anchors in a crowded
anchorage, with anchors at the bow and stern of the
boat to limit its ability to swing. Two anchors set from
the bow at a 60 angle are another good way to im-
prove security against swinging and dragging, and
they allow you to shorten the rodes and use less scope.
In heavy weather conditions, where one anchor may
not have enough holding power, setting a second an-
chor may be critical to staying put. Remember that as
the wind speed doubles the force on the boat (and the
ground tackle system) increases by four times.
What size anchor fits my boat?
Choose an anchor that's the right size for your boat
and the locations and weather where you anchor.
Take the anchor manufacturer's suggested sizes
into account and consider your boating style. Do you
typically anchor for two hours or for two weeks, in a
lake or in the Atlantic Ocean? The recommended
anchor sizes from our Annual Catalog will work well
for most boaters, under most conditions.
Sizing an anchor for your boat reinforces, with some
limits, the "bigger is better" idea. If your engine fails
and you are drifting toward a lee shore, having a
properly sized anchor ready could save your boat.
But raising the anchor by hand, with no electric pow-
ered windlass, calls for light and efficient ground
tackle (and a strong back).
Weight is important, but what you're looking for when
buying an anchor is holding power, which may have
little relation to the anchor's size and weight. When
an anchor penetrates the surface of the seabed,
suction created by the bottom material, plus the
weight of the material above the anchor, creates
resistance. In rocky or coral bottoms anchors can't
dig in, but rather snag on protrusions and hold pre-
cariously. The holding power of modern anchors is
remarkable, varying between 10 and 200 times the
anchor's weight. This means that some anchors that
weigh only 5lb. can hold in excess of 1,000 pounds!
For a detailed look at holding power, see the West
Advisor article titled Anchor Testing on our web site,
where you can download Bill Springer's writeup
on our tests from the October 2006 issue of
. Although the data is now a few years old,
the technology is virtually unchanged.
What are the typical bottom conditions?
Anchors need to develop enough resistance in the
seabed to withstand the environmental forces on the
boat-the wind and the waves. An anchor's ability to
develop resistance is entirely dependent on its abil-
ity to engage and penetrate the seabed. In all of our
anchor tests, there always seems to be one undeni-
able conclusion: the selection of a suitable bottom
for anchoring is a much more critical factor than the
design of the anchor. So how do you choose the
right anchor design? You must take expected bot-
tom conditions into account. Here are some potential
options, based on the seabed:
fine-grained sand is relatively easy for an-
chors to penetrate and offers consistently high hold-
ing power and repeatable results. Most anchors will
hold the greatest tension in hard sand. Pivoting-fluke
anchors and non-hinged scoop anchors are the best
types in sand. The Manson Supreme and Rocna
performed excellently in our anchor tests in sand.
mud has low shear strength, and requires an-
chor designs with a broader shank-fluke angle and
greater fluke area. This allows the anchor to pen-
etrate deeply to where the mud has greater density.
Mud is frequently only a thin layer over some other
material, so anchors that can penetrate through the
mud to the underlying material will hold more. For-
tress anchors have greater holding power in mud
because they can be adjusted from their standard
32 to a broad 45 fluke angle.
Rock and coral:
holding power is most dependent on
where you happen to drop the hook, rather than the
type of anchor. Plow-shaped or grapnel-type anchors,
with high structural strength to sustain the high point-
loads, generally work the best. These anchors include
the Claw, CQR, Delta, Rocna and Supreme.
Shale, clay and grassy bottoms:
tough bottoms for
all anchor designs, with the weight of the anchor,
more than the design the most important factor in
penetration and holding power. CQR, Delta, Rocna
and Supreme anchors are thought to be good due to
their ability to penetrate vegetation. However, these
conditions have a high probability of false setting,
due to the anchor catching on roots and protrusions,
rather than something solid.
What different materials to choose from?
You have three options: galvanized steel, Grade 316
stainless steel or lightweight aluminum/magnesium.
Most boaters choose a galvanized anchor for cost rea-
sons, with the added advantage of the highest tensile
strength. Stainless anchors resemble works of sculp-
ture to dress up the bow of your vessel. Boaters who
care greatly about weight in the bow (owners of ultra-
light sailboats, sailboat racers) can choose the highly
respected aluminum-magnesium Fortress anchor, the
inexpensive Guardian or the Manson Racer.
Storage in rollers, lockers
Plow and scoop anchors have curved shanks that
self-launch much more easily on your bow roller,
and are the most common choice if you're using a
windlass and want remote-control operation.
What different materials
to choose from?
Typical bottom conditions?
"What is the best kind of anchor and rode for my
boat?" We get asked that question a lot, and the
answer is often "more than one anchor, of different
types." While it might sound like we are just trying
to sell a few more anchors, most experts agree with
this viewpoint. The type of bottom-mud, grass,
sand, coral or rock-will dictate different choices of
anchors, as will the size and windage of the boat,
the wind conditions and the seastate.
Which style or category?
Selecting the Right Anchor
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-2015-2016 Master Catalog
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