A Nord­havn is worth mil­lions of miles.

Passage Maker - - Seamanship -

With mil­lions and mil­lions of miles logged, Nord­havns not only go the dis­tance, they have achieved more cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tions and ocean cross­ings than all our com­peti­tors’ mod­els com­bined. From our small­est ship to our new­est and big­gest Nord­havn 120-foot su­per yacht, each de­sign has proven to safely and com­fort­ably de­liver its own­ers to the fur­thest cor­ners of the planet.

All those miles re­quire a lot of time spent at sea. So we’ve made Nord­havns as lux­u­ri­ous and com­fort­able inside as they are ca­pa­ble of cruis­ing the globe. Ex­otic stone sur­faces, the nest hard­woods, highly-con­sid­ered lay­outs and a smooth steady ride make your Nord­havn feel like home no mat­ter where you hap­pen to be.

Visit nord­havn.com to learn more about the great dis­tances Nord­havns have cov­ered in­clud­ing the re­cent de­liv­ery and maiden voy­age of N86 Koonoona (pic­tured).

I can say with­out a shadow of doubt that the Rocna/ Man­son/ Ul­tra style of an­chor (which also in­cludes the Spade, but I have no ex­pe­ri­ence with it) is a qual­i­ta­tively bet­ter all-around an­chor than any­thing else we have ever used. So what hap­pened in this test?

First of all, the bot­tom—soft mud— was ideal for the Dan­forth-style an­chor. Th­ese have a nar­row, rel­a­tively low re­sis­tance shank with a large fluke area an­gled in a way that drags the an­chor down to harder mud, which is demon­strated by the steady in­crease in the hold­ing power over the course of each test. The other an­chors take longer to dig down in this kind of a bot­tom.

The con­stant rate of rode re­trieval (in­clud­ing after the sec­ond method of set­ting the an­chors on the fourth day of test­ing) used in the test does not in any way re­flect nor­mal us­age—in real life, this would con­sti­tute the boat drag­ging through an an­chor­age, which would lead to the an­chor be­ing im­me­di­ately re­trieved and re­set. In a soft bot­tom, this kind of an­chor is in­vari­ably set by ap­ply­ing gen­tle pres­sure that gives it time to dig in. On our boat, we have a cup of tea while we wait for it to set.

Sec­ond, the Dan­forth-style an­chors per­form poorly in any kind of a hard bot­tom. The flukes typ­i­cally do not fully dig in. If a high load is ap­plied, the an­chor tips up over the points of its flukes and lets go. The heav­ily weighted points of the Rocna/ Man­son/ Ul­tra (and Spade) style bite hard. Even if the an­chor is not buried, it does not trip over it­self.

Third, the Dan­forth-style does not set well in heavy weed and kelp. To do this an an­chor has to worm its way into the bot­tom un­til it is be­low the roots. If not, it just pulls out a clump of veg­e­ta­tion and skates across the bot­tom. No an­chor sets well in th­ese kinds of bot­toms, but we have found the Rocna/ Man­son/ Ul­tra type to do con­sid­er­ably bet­ter than any­thing else we have used.

Fourth, it is re­ally hard to get a Dan­forth-type to get a grip in a rocky bot­tom, whereas the heav­ily weighted tip of the Rocna/ Man­son/ Ul­tra style will grab at any avail­able crevice and hang on.

Fifth, in any kind of a bot­tom in which the Dan­forth-style does not fully bury (most bot­toms other than soft mud), if the boat swings at an­chor there is a risk of the rode tan­gling with the stock and trip­ping the an­chor, which will then not re­set. Our boat has only twice drifted up on a beach when we were not on it and on both oc­ca­sions this is what hap­pened.

If your cruis­ing area is limited to the east coast of the U.S., this is not likely to be a prob­lem as most an­chor­ages are soft mud in which the an­chor will dig in far enough to fully bury and will not trip if the boat swings. But for those plan­ning on sail­ing far­ther afield, for ex­am­ple, the Ba­hamas, it could well be a prob­lem.

We have also had the Fortress let go in a 45-knot squall, even when well set in

sand, at which point be­cause of its light weight, it hy­droplaned across the bot­tom.

Sixth, the Rocna/ Man­son/ Ul­tra style of an­chor will hold bet­ter on short scope than the Dan­forth style. An­chor­ing on short scope is an un­for­tu­nate fact of life in many of to­day’s crowded an­chor­ages.

Don’t get me wrong. I love our Fortress and al­ways carry one on board. I rec­om­mend it to other cruis­ers. Its light weight makes it the per­fect kedge an­chor. Over the course of our cruis­ing guide days we ran aground mul­ti­ple times when do­ing survey work (four times on one mem­o­rable day, which did fi­nally prompt a bit of an ex­ple­tive from Ter­rie). Ter­rie and I learned to launch the dinghy, set the Fortress and pull our­selves off with­out say­ing a word to each other. The chil­dren, who were quite young at the time, learned to go be­low and keep out of the way.

But when it comes to sleep­ing soundly at night dur­ing a gale in a rugged Scot­tish an­chor­age with the stern of the boat swing­ing 20 feet from the rocks, re­gard­less of the lat­est test re­sults, so far as I am con­cerned there is no sub­sti­tute for the Rocna/ Man­son/ Ul­tra style of an­chor. We have met nu­mer­ous ex­pe­ri­enced cruis­ers who share the same opin­ion. At some point this mass of anec­do­tal data must start to co­a­lesce into some kind of an ob­jec­tive judg­ment.

Chuck Haw­ley:

My role was to en­sure that the test was con­ducted as fairly as pos­si­ble, and to help those present in­ter­pret the re­sults. My qual­i­fi­ca­tions for serv­ing in this role are based on roughly 40,000 ocean miles sail­ing a va­ri­ety of craft, and par­tic­i­pa­tion in many an­chor tests, in­clud­ing tests on San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound and Santa Cruz, Cal­i­for­nia. I’ve also been priv­i­leged to meet and in­ter­view Peter Bruce, Robert Dan­forth Ogg, Gor­don Lyall (in­ven­tor of the Delta an­chor), Don Haller­berg (in­ven­tor of the Fortress an­chor), Alain Poiraud (in­ven­tor of the Spade an­chor), Andy Pe­abody (in­ven­tor of the Max an­chor) and El­bert “Mack” Maloney, ed­i­tor of Chap­man Pi­lot­ing.

Dur­ing the an­chor tests in which I have par­tic­i­pated, it has been common to end up with vex­ing ques­tions at the end of the test which had not been an­swered or which had not been an­tic­i­pated. “What if we in­creased the scope?” “What if we veered the test boat 180 de­grees?” “What if we used all-chain rode?” “Did the size of the boat (or rode or wind con­di­tions) make the test in­valid?”

De­spite the best in­ten­tions of the testers, there are al­ways ques­tions about the fair­ness or re­al­ism of the test pro­ce­dure, and how it might af­fect one an­chor dif­fer­ently from another.

So it is with the Chesapeake Bay Mud An­chor Test. Go­ing into the test, it was agreed to use the cal­i­brated winch on the stern of the Rachel Car­son to cre­ate the pull on the an­chor, as op­posed to the thrust of her 2,410 hp (com­bined) en­gines. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to mod­u­late the thrust of a large ves­sel to sim­u­late a steadily in­creas­ing pull on the rode.

In­evitably, this re­sults in sud­den in­creases in line ten­sion, which pop the an­chor free of the bot­tom as the boat surges for­ward or aft, de­pend­ing on the di­rec­tion of pull. This isn’t a re­flec­tion of the cap­tain’s skill, but rather the dif­fi­culty of avoid­ing har­monic mo­tion from the stretchy rode, and the sheer in­er­tia of the ves­sel.

By winch­ing the an­chors to­ward the ves­sel at a con­tin­u­ous rate, it would seem to give all an­chors an op­por­tu­nity to ori­ent them­selves, and then dig down in the bot­tom un­til some equi­lib­rium depth is achieved. I think we still imag­ine the an­chor chain pulling the an­chor shank down­ward, but it does ex­actly the op­po­site, even in soupy mud. It pulls up­ward on the shank, even­tu­ally caus­ing the an­chor to be pulled at a con­stant depth through the mud. This hap­pens with sand bot­toms, too, but the harder sand pre­vents the deep pen­e­tra­tion of the seabed that we wit­nessed in Solomons.

So, was this a fair test? Well, it was fair in that it was highly re­peat­able, with­out the vari­a­tions in pro­peller thrust and har­monic mo­tion that we have ob­served in “pow­ered” tests. We gave all an­chors

100 feet to do what­ever they were go­ing to do, whether it was to not set, set and re­lease, set and hold a con­stant ten­sion, or set and in­crease to the end of the test.

If any an­chors were pe­nal­ized, it would be the very few that kept on in­creas­ing their re­sis­tance un­til the 100foot limit was reached. In­ter­est­ingly, many an­chors demon­strated rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent per­for­mance from test to test, which makes the se­lec­tion of a “good” or “bad” an­chor dif­fi­cult since it de­pends en­tirely on which pull you se­lect.

Nigel, you make the point that this an­chor test wasn’t con­ducted in a dozen other seabeds where re­sults would have been dif­fer­ent (rock, clay, co­ral, weed, etc.). Yes, I think that’s self-ev­i­dent. This was a mud an­chor test, and it re­peated many of the as­pects of the mud an­chor test I par­tic­i­pated in in 1990 on San Francisco Bay, also spon­sored by Fortress. Even though the pro­ce­dure was dif­fer­ent, we came up with very sim­i­lar re­sults that showed that the Dan­forth-style piv­ot­ing fluke an­chors, es­pe­cially the Fortress that can vary the shank-fluke an­gle, held far more than a wide se­lec­tion of yachts­man’s an­chors.

You might have pointed out that the Fortress an­chor also does ex­tremely well in another common bot­tom type: hard sand. In many tests, Fortress an­chors have proven to out hold other suc­cess­ful an­chor de­signs, es­pe­cially more clas­sic de­signs like the CQR and the Bruce. This isn’t to say that clas­sic an­chor de­signs haven’t proven ef­fec­tive for gen­er­a­tions of cruis­ers, but rather that when you test them to fail­ure in sand, the Dan­forth styles and some of the newer scoop style an­chors (Rocna, Man­son Supreme, Spade) are su­pe­rior to the older de­signs.

Nigel, you also point out that you want an an­chor that won’t trip if the cur­rent or wind changes di­rec­tion. There’s no ques­tion that the abil­ity for an an­chor to re-set when pulled in a new di­rec­tion, with­out foul­ing, is a won­der­ful at­tribute. In fact, in my con­ver­sa­tions with Bob Ogg in 1989, he told me it was the Northill an­chor’s propen­sity to foul as the cur­rent re­versed on San Francisco Bay that en­cour­aged Ogg and his un­cle to de­velop the piv­ot­ing fluke an­chor we now know as the Dan­forth (and Fortress).

That’s why I was so sur­prised by the num­ber of pulls where the an­chor ap­peared to be fully set, but which

be­came un­set as more ten­sion was ap­plied. This false sense of se­cu­rity is ex­tremely trou­bling to me since it would al­low the sailor to blithely head for shore, or to go to bed, with a pos­si­bil­ity of the an­chor’s fail­ing at some point dur­ing the night. This is a great ar­gu­ment for an­chor alarms, whether based on depth or dis­tance, as well as an­chors that don’t send false sig­nals.

I find it in­ter­est­ing—and I think you would agree—that an­chor de­signs con­tinue to come to mar­ket that are in­no­va­tive, ef­fec­tive in cer­tain con­di­tions and beau­ti­fully con­structed. And, I think you would also agree that if you want the max­i­mum hold­ing power in ei­ther soft mud or sand, the Fortress is an ex­cel­lent choice. Fi­nally, we’d both agree that di­ver­sity in an­chor de­signs to meet the wide range of con­di­tions that one en­coun­ters when cruis­ing is a vi­tal rule of sea­man­ship. Calder: Chuck, I sus­pect that you and I don’t dis­agree on any­thing. I al­ways carry a Fortress an­chor and have done so for the past 25 years. It is my fa­vorite an­chor for cer­tain op­er­a­tions and sets ex­tremely well in pre­cisely the kind of bot­tom found in th­ese tests (soft mud). I also re­spect the rigor with which the tests were con­ducted and the ob­vi­ous con­sid­er­able ef­fort that was made to achieve re­peata­bil­ity.

The is­sue I have is this: the re­sults are suf­fi­ciently at odds with a great deal of anec­do­tal data from a large enough

An­chors used in the Chesapeake Bay test lie on the deck of the R/V Rachel Car­son.

The Rocna is a fa­vorite of many se­ri­ous cruis­ers, in­clud­ing Tech­ni­cal Ed­i­tor Nigel Calder.

The Fortress, like the Dan­forth, is a hinged­fluke an­chor, and it per­forms well in muddy bot­toms.

The plat­form for test­ing was the R/V Rachel Car­son, the 81-foot re­search ves­sel owned by the Univer­sity of Maryland Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence.

This Nord­havn owner has cho­sen a 73 lb. Rocna as his main bower.

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