Choosing an anchor for your boat
Anchoring success starts with choosing the right anchor. However, no one anchor is best; each type has its own strengths and weaknesses. When choosing an anchor for your boat, you need to consider several factors:
- boat size and weight
- boat type
- types of seabed you’ll encounter
- anticipated wind and current
If you’re anchoring in a new area, start by asking local marine supply stores and fellow boaters what type of anchor they recommend.
Types of anchors for your boat
Anchors almost always hold by digging into the bottom, and design strongly influences an anchor’s burying ability.
Known by the names of their manufacturers, most modern anchors have outstanding holding power for their weight when used to anchor to a particular type of bottom.
Anchors are typically designed so that a horizontal pull will cause it to dig itself firmly into the bottom, and an upward pull should dislodge it easily. Most recreational boats use one of two basic types: Danforth- and plow-type anchors.
Lightweight or Danforth-type anchors
Popular for small boats, the versatile Danforth anchor has twin flukes and is easy to stow. This often-copied design comes in a variety of brand names.
Danforth-type anchors share several common characteristics:
- are lightweight relative to their holding power
- stow flat with twin movable flukes
- have long, narrow twin flukes that engage the bottom quickly
- tend to bury themselves in sand and mud when under heavy horizontal strain
- offer limited penetration in grass, rocks or clay; may slide
A traditional design, the plow anchor has its fluke already deployed and ready to dig in. Plow anchors come in several different types:
- The CQR has a hinged shank and remains buried over moderate changes in direction of pull due to current or wind changes
- The Delta has a solid shank and is designed to reset with shifts in rode direction
- The Bruce has a solid shank and is designed to right itself no matter how it lands on the bottom; claims to resist breaking out through 360-degree changes in direction of pull
Plow-type anchors share some basic characteristics:
- have a single, three-dimensional fluke, shaped like a plowshare that digs itself deeper under heavy horizontal strain
- can be stowed on an anchor chock or roller on the bow
- have excellent digging and holding capability under heavy horizontal strain
- penetrate weeds, sand, and grass, and hook into rocks
- have limited holding power in deep mud
Other useful anchors
Many offshore boaters also carry a storm anchor to deploy in extreme seas and weather. For temporary anchoring in calm conditions, you might consider carrying a small picnic or lunch hook.
Remember that the larger or heavier the anchor, the more difficult it is to deploy, recover and store. The anchor’s size and storage location may affect how your boat handles underway.
You may need more than one
To handle different bottom types in multiple cruising areas, you may want to carry more than one type of anchor. If you do, attach anchor lines to all your anchors so they’ll be ready when you need them.
To learn more, take our Anchoring With Assurance seminar.
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