QUICK GUIDE TO CHOOSING A BOAT ANCHOR
Equipping your boat with the right anchor and being able to effectively use it out on the water is the difference between sitting nicely where you intended and drifting endlessly out to sea. But I am still always surprised by how often boaters don’t know how to effectively set their anchor.
MATCH YOUR USE TO YOUR ANCHOR
Like everything, there are several types of anchor, each fit for their own purpose. A diver or fisho who is constantly on the move will not need the same anchor as the yacht that only drops anchor overnight.
One of the most common types of anchor is the fisherman’s anchor. It is a non-burying anchor and its two-arm design makes it perfectly suited for gripping rock and kelp, but its holding power on a soft bed is not as good as other types. Another issue is that fisherman’s anchors are notoriously difficult to stow. It either requires a specifically designed foredeck and rail, or it must be folded up and placed on deck, which makes deployment slower as the anchor must be assembled.
On the other hand, fluke anchors are excellent in soft seabeds and can handle shifting wind directions and the boat moving over the top of them. They are also much more lightweight than their fisherman counterparts. CQR and Plough anchors are the go-to, versatile anchors. They perform well in most seabeds but do not excel in any. It also doesn’t have a good weight to strength ratio. It is worth investigating what kind of seabed you usually anchor to, and investing in an anchor that will perform in the conditions you most commonly use it in.
For permanent moorings, a mushroom anchor is well-suited. But the mushroom anchor is not suited for any kind of mooring where you will frequently be moving and may want to supplement it with an additional anchor. If you are moving constantly, a grapnel anchor is for you, but this is not suitable for permanent mooring.
KNOW THE INDIVIDUAL CAPABILITIES OF YOUR ANCHOR
Whichever anchor you go for, make sure you know its capabilities. If you have a fisherman anchor and the tide or wind changes, you will likely become un-hooked. Similarly, if you have a fluke anchor, the shape means the best way to set it is by dropping it while stationary, then pulling back a little to set the anchor. Knowing the individual requirements and capabilities of each anchor is essential.
Anchors usually come in three choices of materials, galvanised steel, stainless steel, and aluminium. Galvanized steel is the cheapest but will wear down over time. Both stainless steel and aluminium are more expensive, with stainless steel being the most durable.
Like anything, anchors come in a range of products and quality. But a word of warning, the market has recently become full of cheap Chinese imitations. They are usually copies of trusted brands anchors. I would avoid them at all costs. You get what you pay for, and a cheap anchor will be of inferior quality. The thing that holds your boat in place is not worth skimping on, or you may find it goes for adventures of its own when you aren’t around.
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