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Safe at Sea: Types of anchors commonly used

By Staff | Mar 24, 2020

The previous Safe at Sea column discussed the importance of selecting the right anchor for your boat. The best pieces of advice were: Don’t “Go Cheap” and “Bigger is Better.”

According to the America’s Boating Course textbook, today’s anchors are mostly lightweight types. Known by the names of their manufacturers, most have outstanding holding power for their weight when used to anchor to a particular type of bottom.

Regardless the type, all anchors are made in an assortment of sizes for various boats. As discussed previously, knowing your boat and the seas in which you’ll be anchoring will drive your decision when selecting the best anchor.

A third piece of advice: It is a good idea to carry at least two anchors – of different designs – to handle nearly any condition you might encounter. Also, if you lose an anchor (and odds are you will), the second anchor can be your backup. Be sure each anchor (if not attached to a windlass) has an anchor line attached for immediate use.

The typical anchor is designed so that a horizontal pull will cause it to dig itself firmly into the bottom. An upward pull should dislodge it easily.

Two basic types of anchors are most commonly used on today’s recreational boats:

– Lightweight or Danforth-type anchors

This a twin-fluke anchor that is most popular with small boats because it is easy to use and easy to stow.

They are easy to use just because they are light in weight (compared to their holding power) which, as just stated, makes them easy to stow. Their twin flukes (long and narrow) engage the bottom quickly. In our sandy bottom area, this is a real positive. However, this also gives limited penetration in grass, also prevalent in our local waters.

– Plow-type anchors

This is a traditional design with its fluke already deployed and ready to dig in. Its single fluke (three-dimensional shape) resembles a plowshare and, thus, it digs deeper under heavy horizontal strain. This style of anchor is stowed on a chock (or roller off the bow).

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and the courses it offers, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 612-987-2125.