The Great An­chor De­bate

Nigel Calder De­fends Mod­ern Scoop-Style An­chors; Chuck Haw­ley Says Hinged-Fluke Va­ri­ety Proves Bet­ter in Mud.

Passage Maker - - Seamanship -

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.

Nigel Calder:

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!

Twin Ul­tra an­chors grace the bow of a Flem­ing mo­to­ry­acht. Ul­tras, man­u­fac­tured in Turkey, were above av­er­age per­form­ers in the Au­gust an­chor shoot- out. Ul­tra is dis­trib­uted in North Amer­ica by Quick­line USA.

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