You’ve spent a great deal of money on your boat, and when you anchor you are putting your boat and your own safety at stake as well. Shouldn’t you buy the best performing anchor you can afford to protect your investment and potentially your life? If you have unlimited budget, you can of course go one step further and acquire the best performing and best looking anchor for your boat. But if you are on a tight budget and need to compromise, you might forego the beauty options such as shiny stainless versus galvanized steel. Most anchor manufacturers offer multiple options that can satisfy your budget while providing a quality product you will be able to rely upon for years. Keep in mind that stainless steel is not always corrosion-proof. In prolonged exposure to harsh marine conditions, stainless steel can succumb to rust which may weaken the structure.
Not all anchors that look alike are created equal
In several of the online discussions boards we have followed over the years, we have seen people balk at the price of a given anchor, opting instead for a cheaper knock-off. Quality does count and, when you think about the total value of your life, your boat, and all your gear on board, a good quality anchor is certainly worth the money you pay for it.
As the skipper of the boat, your family and your crew depend on you to make the best decisions for their comfort and safety. If you are out cruising or plan to, you’ll be spending more time at anchor than sailing. Your per failure cost for a cheap anchor will far outweigh your per use cost for a great anchor. And, of course, peace of mind is priceless.
We mentioned earlier that boaters should beware of cheap imitations. We once snagged something huge (or were the victims of an anchor-eating monster of the deep) and had to cut away our trusty Fortress anchor. We replaced it with another fluke-type anchor that came with our boat. It was somewhat larger and heavier than our original Fortress. It had no markings on it so we could not identify the manufacturer or model.
For some reason, we kept having difficulty setting the anchor when we never had problems before. We spent a whole season wondering what had happened to our anchoring skills, until we bought a new Fortress. What a difference!
The same thing applies to other anchor types as well. We had a CQR copy that never set in any type of bottom. There are also countless Bruce, Spade, and Buegel knock-offs that we have heard simply do not hold. Then there are reports of broken shafts and flukes. One of the comparative trials of anchors we reviewed notes that an anchor that is damaged will never set properly again. This applies to all anchors, whether branded or knock off. But small defects or imbalances which are more likely on amateur builds can cause an anchor to roll out to the “weak side”. Variations in shank angles can change the behavior of an anchor while setting or weighing. Consistent quality does make a very big difference.
So beware of imitations. You get what you pay for. And remember: A good anchor is your best insurance policy.
Alex and Daria Blackwell are the authors of “Happy Hooking – The Art of Anchoring.” It covers every aspect of anchors and anchoring in a fun and easy to read format with lots of photos and illustrations. It is available from good chandleries, Amazon & CoastalBoating.net
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Anchor retrieval is another important consideration. A line to pull in a reverse direction. and a finger of god set up can save the day and the anchor. Nothing worse than a hung up anchor in deep water. I have known of cruisers that had to cut loose their anchor and a couple hundred feet of chain.Not only is the lost gear expensive, but the vessel is now short of the best expensive anchor. Most back ups are not as good or are for other types of bottoms. Many cruisers have several anchors that they can change out to match the bottom for the best holding conditions.
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