The Great Anchor Debate
Nigel Calder Defends Modern Scoop-Style Anchors; Chuck Hawley Says Hinged-Fluke Variety Proves Better in Mud.
In the November/ December issue, we reported on an anchor shootout in the Chesapeake Bay conducted by Fortress Anchors in August 2014. The headline read: “Stuck in the Mud: Fortress Tests 11 Popular Anchors and Guess Which Wins.” The answer, of course, was Fortress.
Here, world cruiser and PassageMaker’s Technical Editor, Nigel Calder, comes to the defense of his beloved scoop-style anchor, and with a rebuttal from test overseer Chuck Hawley.
Hawley, former vice president for product development at West Marine, was asked by Fortress Anchors to serve as a third-party observer to ensure that testing was fair. Hawley, himself a longtime cruiser, was on site with representatives of several boating magazines, employees of Fortress Anchors, and the captain and crew of R/V Rachel Carson, the 81-foot research vessel owned by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science used for the testing.
The reports about the recent Fortresssponsored anchor tests piqued my interest, most especially because the results are completely at odds with my personal experience.
Just to put this in perspective, over the last four decades my wife, Terrie, and I have spent in total at least 10 years on our boats cruising the Caribbean, the East Coast of the U.S. and northern Europe (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Scotland and islands farther north). We almost never go into marinas and as such are anchored out most of the time. We move the boat constantly (up to seven times a day when we were doing our cruising guides to the northwest Caribbean and Cuba).
We have anchored literally thousands of times in all kinds of bottoms, through rocks to thin sand over coral, hard mud and shale, soft mud, hard and soft sand, and weed and kelp. We have extensive experience with a CQR anchor, a Delta, a Bruce (claw-type anchor), Danforth types (both galvanized steel and the Fortress lightweight aluminium), a Rocna and Manson (to all intents and purposes, very similar anchors), and an Ultra. Obviously, our experiences are only anecdotal, but we have a lot of them, and I don’t know anyone who has more anchoring experience than we do!