Bigger is Better

…at least when it comes to anchors.

Ninety percent of the time, the chain itself is enough to keep the boat stationary.  But it’s that .01% when the wind is blowing hard against a lee shore at 2am and the chain is stretched bar tight that you really wish you had a better anchor.  

As a general rule, bigger and heavier anchors hold better that smaller ones. 
Steve Dashew says that when all your marina mates laugh about the size of your anchor, then it’s probably big enough.

We’ve always had good luck with our 44# Delta, but I’ve spent some sleepless nights watching the anchor alarm and the waves crashing on the rocks behind us.  We’ve never dragged… much. But I can’t depend on our current engines to fire right up and provide immediate power, so dragging toward rocks is seriously bad.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to invest in a bigger and better bow anchor.  Anchors are a lot like religion, and I’m putting my faith in a new 80# Manson Supreme.   

I believe in the fundamental merits of the plow anchor like the Delta, but I think that newer designs incorporating a roll bar (like the Manson Supreme) represent an improvement.  The purpose of the bar most often cited is that it forces the anchor into the correct attitude to set faster; the anchor shouldn't be able to land upside down or roll over in a wind shift.  But what I really see in that bar is a structural member supporting the scoop-shaped plow.  I think the bar allows the design to use a more efficient shape, put strength where it is needed, and weight where it is wanted.  It also provides a nice handle for lifting or if I ever need to pull it out backwards.

I was walking through West Marine yesterday and happened upon a 60# Manson Supreme that someone had special-ordered and then returned because it wouldn’t fit their boat.  You don't see anchors this size very often, and it renewed all my unfinished thoughts about getting a new bow anchor.  I have been keeping an eye out for a bigger 55# Delta, and the 60# Manson certainly looked big enough, but after a review of Manson’s sizing recommendations, it looks like they think we should have the 80-pounder.  Maybe they just want to sell me more anchor, but bigger is better and I wouldn't want to explain to the insurance company why I didn't use the recommended size.

I checked the measurements and don’t think we'll have problem fitting it on the crossbeam.  Weight on the bow is always a good thing to minimize, but in addition to the 44# Delta, we used to carry another 35# Delta in the second roller plus at least 20+ extra pounds in the old catwalk.  I figure we can put that eighty pounder up there and still come out lighter than we were.  And we've never launched two anchors off the bow.

What worries me most is picking the thing up.  Our windlass is rated for a working load of 220 pounds and we've never had any trouble snatching out the Delta.  If the new anchor weighs 80 lbs and our 3/8” G4 chain weighs 1.6 lbs/ft we should still be able to get the anchor back in up to 88 feet of water (without getting into buoyancy calculations).   That depth is well within our expected anchoring conditions, but a really well-buried anchor or a broken windlass could make things difficult.

I special-ordered the new anchor through West Marine and it arrives on Tuesday.  I hope somebody sees how big it is and laughs.