Tips for Choosing and Using the Right Anchor
By Andrei Loskoutov
Boat Anchor Myths and Facts:
Myth: The heavier the anchor, the better...
Fact: Modern designs and state-of-the-art engineering have made anchors not only better, but lighter, too! In several real world tests, including one conducted by the U.S. Navy, the best holding anchors were actually among the lightest! Anchor design has more effect on holding power than weight.
Myth: Steel is the strongest material for anchors...
Fact: Not anymore! Many materials are now stronger than steel. For example, high-tensile aluminum-magnesium alloy is well suited for anchors and is, pound-for-pound, more than twice as strong as steel.
Myth: All anchors perform the same way...
Fact: Not so! Different designs and different materials make anchors perform very differently. When you consider the value of the boat an anchor is protecting, (your boat!) an anchor is no place to economize. It pays to get the best performing anchor you can.
Myth: Anchors that look alike, are alike...
Fact: Looks can be deceiving. Technical designs, manufacturing processes and metal alloys go through varying degrees of quality control and some are just plain better. Be sure to look for independent testing of holding power and approval from standards organizations, indicated by "ABS Type Certification" (ABS is the American Bureau of Shipping) or similar.
Myth: Just toss an anchor overboard, and you are anchored...
Fact: It's not so simple. Your anchor is just one part of a total anchoring system. It's made up of the anchor, chain, rope, shackles, deck gear, and... your own anchoring skill and knowledge!
1. Determine Your Holding Requirements.
Be sure that your anchor can give the performance you need.
A “Lunch Hook” should be able to hold your boat in a 15 knot breeze. A main, or “Working Anchor” should hold up to 30 knots of wind. A “Storm Anchor” is for winds up to 42 knots.
Remember that as the wind speed doubles, the holding requirement quadruples!
2. Use Adequate Scope.
Scope is the length of anchor line relative to the distance from your boat’s deck to the sea bottom. We recommend at least 5:1 scope.At 10:1 the holding power will double, and at less than 3:1 you will give up a significant amount of holding power and may experience problems setting the anchor.
3. “Power Set” Your Anchor.
Know that your anchor is properly set! Back down very, very slowly. Then as the anchor begins to set, very slowly increase the load with your engine. Backing down at any speed at all may not give your anchor a chance to dig in and bury itself.
4. Anchor Resetting.
In areas of changing tide or wind, set two anchors off the bow in opposite directions. Any anchor can occasionally fail to reset once it has been pulled out of the bottom. Set two anchors if you expect a change in wind or current.
5. Anchor Retrieval.
Slowly move the boat to a position directly over the anchor, pulling in the line as you go. Then snub the line on a cleat and power backwards slowly to pull the anchor out of the bottom. Do not power forward because that will require more energy and put very heavy loads on the anchor and gear.