Many boaters never give much thought to that anchor on the bow. In fact I would venture a guess that there are many boats out there whose anchor has never kissed the water. To all those I would caution … "When the day comes that you need an anchor; you are probably going to Really, Really, need an Anchor!"
Identifying the Perfect Anchor
To start let’s clear the air about the "Perfect Anchor"
There is No Such Thing!
No single anchor design works under every conceivable condition of bottom type, wind and current changes, and in every weather condition.
To be fair though, there are a couple of designs out there that do come close.
So What Purpose Does an Anchor Serve?
In general terms, the goal is to secure your vessel to the bottom of the body of water that you are on.
The bottom line is, (if you will allow me the humor), there is only one acceptable outcome to successful anchoring and it doesn’t matter whether you are anchored in a quite lagoon or off a lee shore during a Force 7 blow: "When all is said and done… Your boat will remain in the same place where you anchored it." Something that you might want to keep in mind when beginning your search for your next "Perfect Anchor!"
Anchors - How They Work
Anchors typically work in one of two ways:
- Weight - Like using a 2000# mushroom anchor that makes use of its weight alone to keep your 18 foot Center Cockpit fishing boat in the exact spot that you want it.
- Bottom Penetration & Burying - Like most modern anchor designs, this is an anchor that penetrates the bottom and buries itself with little regard to its weight. (Really? That’s where your mind went? And I thought I was perverted!)
So what does the Perfect Anchor look like?
- Penetrate the seabed and set quickly in all bottom conditions: sand, mud, grass, coral, rocks, etc…
- Reset quickly when wind, waves, or tidal currents change and cause the anchor to break out.
- Provide maximum holding power on steady or varying loads.
- Be easy to breakout when you are getting underway.
- Have easy storage either on deck, storage locker, or an anchor roller platform.
- Be of high strength and durable construction.
Good luck finding one of those and if you do, be sure to let me know; I want one too!
As Important as the Perfect Anchor
On the offhand chance that you do happen upon the perfect anchor, you will soon learn that it is worthless unless used properly. Make sure you know what is required and how to maximize your anchor’s use by using proper anchoring techniques.
If There is no Perfect Anchor;
What is the Best Solution?
For the boater whose normal cruising range is limited to a small area with a relatively consistent bottom type, a single anchor may be all that is required, but choose carefully. The prudent mariner may also want to consider having a storm anchor nonetheless.
For those that cruise extensively and often anchor under many different conditions, it is probably good practice to carry at least (2) anchors of differing styles plus an additional storm anchor. This allows for the use of the most effective anchor for different bottom types encountered. Just as important though, is that in the event of worsening weather a second anchor can be set and in the event of seriously foul weather, a storm anchor can be used to provide additional security.
Before you rush out to find and buy your next anchor, there is an important point to be made. While the anchor you choose is important, it is only one part of the total system that you have to rely on.
This total system, commonly referred to as "Ground Tackle", is comprised of the anchor, anchor swivel or swivel shot, shackles, the anchor line or chain, often referred to as the "rode." And just who came up with that term, "rode?" It kind of reminds me of how I feel leaving Sloppy Joes or the Hog’s Breath at 2 A.M. (Like in "Rode Hard and Put … Sorry, I digress. Then there is the windless if so equipped, some form of a snubber or stopper if using a windless, and finally the attachment points for all of this equipment aboard your vessel. All of these items must work together to provide you with a good night’s sleep.
Since most readers are primarily interested knowing which anchor is best for them, we will continue with a discussion on the various types of anchor designs along with their pros and cons.
There are basically (4) categories of anchor designs found on pleasure boats today. They include: Lightweight (Fluke) Anchors, Plow Anchors, Scoop Anchors, and Claw Anchors. Within these categories, you will find a wide selection of designs and manufacturers. Some of these designs are based on modifications for special applications, some are design improvements on the original, and many are just cheap knock offs made in china and designed to attract the buyer with price savings (Caveat Emptor).