Anchor issues, spinnaker choices, depthsounders and a solar energy “thief”
Q: Strong breezes and changing tidal currents here on Florida’s east coast make overnight anchoring very challenging. At the suggestion of a friend, I recently bought a 35lb plow anchor for my 1988 Catalina 27 to get better holding. He was right, this anchor holds very well, but as you may guess, it is busting my back to break it off the bottom and heave onto my roller. I don’t think there is room to put an electric windlass on this small boat as the anchor locker is located right behind the bow pulpit. Is there any other kind of device available that might help me handle this 35lb monster? Stephen E. Baker, New Smyrna Beach, FL
DON CASEY REPLIES
The solution to breaking out a stubborn anchor is patience. Simply shorten up the rode to vertical, cleat it and then wait. The motion of the boat will break out the anchor without any effort from you. After that, it is just a matter of leaning back and using legs and arms—never your back—to pull in the rode and lift the anchor. A good bow roller is the only essential, along with leather gloves.
That said, if you have back issues or other concerns that necessitate mechanical assistance, I have seen Catalina 27s fitted with a windlass aft of the anchor locker. However, with this configuration, you have to deal with getting the lid open or closed, and unless you can find a mechanical windlass, you face the issues of battery location, wire runs and charging. In deep water, a line hooked or hitched to the chain and taken to a halyard winch on the mast can also do the heavy lifting until the dead weight becomes manageable.
For what it’s worth, I have cruised well into my senior years anchoring with a 45lb CQR on an all-chain rode without the aid of a windlass. Given how common windlass problems are on other boats, I still prefer the reliability of a manual lift. We are also underway quicker, and the enforced workout no doubt has health benefits. Like all tasks and all exercises, it does get easier the more you do it.
DON CASEY HAS WRITTEN MANY BOOKS AND ARTICLES ON MARINE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS