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  #1  
Old 05-12-2007
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Anchor choice

I have been using a 45lb CQR on 200ft of chain and have no complaints, but several friends of mine have had occasional troubles with CQR's.

I got a 35lb Delta on another 200ft of chain and mounted it on the other side of my bowsprit, only to have another friend detail a long list of disappointments and nightmares with this anchor, which he replaced with a 45lb steel Spade.

My boat is a 24,000 lb schooner that I've built myself over the past 20 years or so. It is fiberglass with a laminated and epoxied deck, cabin and interior, and the outside is epoxy coated with about 3/16 of fiberglass cloth, mostly 1708 biaxial fabmat. It's strong and has 8600lbs of internal lead ballast. The fiberglass hull runs from 3/4" at the shear to a full 2" thick where the bilge turns into the keel trunk, and 3" in the overlap at the bottom of the keel. She can take a beating, if she has to, but will sink like any other boat.

I am just finishing her up and was scheduled to get out of here (I'm on the Gulf Coast just south of the mouth of Tampa Bay) before hurricane season. Unfortunately, a medical situation has come up in the VA that will delay my getting out of here until, at best, the middle of July. My position is exposed and these docks will never survive a punch in the nose, so I will have to anchor out and hunker down. Not my first choice, I assure you.

After much emphatic arm waving and wide-eyed exclamations, several friends convinced me that the steel Spade was 'the best anchor' they'd ever used. ( These are well seasoned cruisers and I have to listen. )

I just need more input. Rearranging the ground tackle in the middle of a Cat 2 or 3 blow is not an option. I need to see how others would rate these anchors: Spade, CQR, Delta, Danforth Hi Tensile - 1, 2, 3, or 4.

I've tried to upload a picture of the boat with this, but have no idea if it worked. I'll know in a minute.

Hawk

Okay, it seems impossible for me to post pictures. I've tried three times and it never shows up. If anyone can clue me in as to what's happening, please do so.

Last edited by Hawkeye25; 05-12-2007 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 05-12-2007
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Old 05-12-2007
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Hawk...I have no personal experience with the Spade but based on reports of several friends that have one (including a circumnavigator) it would be my choice for an all purpose anchor out of the ones you listed. I do have both a Delta and a CQR and would rate the Delta much higher in ability to set and RE-Set if necessary.
That said...in a soft really gooey mud bottom as I'm imagining you have there, I would consider a big FORTRESS instead of a Danforth as it has a "mud" setting for the flukes and when pull is from ONE direction there is probably nothing better in mud. I wouldn't rely on it solely in a hurricane situation due to the 180 degree turn in the wind and the possibility that it would not come around and set but it would be great on a nylon (mostly) rode to take the initial brunt of the storm with a Spade to back it up.
There are 1000 opinions on anchors but I think you have to consider bottom conditions as well as the boat when deciding. If you stick with your CQR I would use maybe 50 ft. of chain and then nylon as the CQR does not do as well with a bar tight chain rode compared to the Delta in my actual experience.
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Old 05-12-2007
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Not knowing your bottom conditions or where you intend to anchor, I won't venture an opinion, but rather state a general principle: No one anchor seems to do well in all conditions, but several anchors do well in one or two. All benefit from a chain to shank rode, or all chain, and all seem to benefit from a generous (6:1 or 7:1) catenary. Another general axiom is that going up one size from the "suggested" weight and rode/rope size is rarely a bad idea. Follow the advice of Hal Roth and Earl Hinz here, both of whom have decades of anchoring experience and fairly robust opinions on what constitutes effective and effectively deployed ground tackle.

I would say "tried and tested" designs include the CQR and the Bruce (the real Bruce, not necessarily the knock-offs), while a properly sized Danforth is a good choice as a "lunch hook" in many, but not all, conditions.

Anyone who advocates a "one size fits all" anchoring solution is a fool or a salesman, in my opinion. We don't sell one type of tire for all motor vehicles, do we? Same with anchors.

New anchors (the Spade, the Bulwagga, the Rocna) come onto the market all the time, with little more than anecdotal evidence to back their claims. A good empirical source of real data is, again in my opinion, Practical Sailor magazine, which performs simple but telling dynamometer-based tests in various bottoms to the point of "failure" (meaning poor sets or dragging). While I don't consider their tests conclusive, they are far more meaningful in my view than "faith-based" reports of people who've bought one type and swear by it exclusively, not quite realizing that they've never experienced true anchor-stressing tests or that their choice is merely the best for their local conditions...but perhaps no other.

It should be relatively easy to give a neighbouring dock-side boater a $500 surety and to borrow the odd anchor to test. Use a buoy and the "anchor watch" function of the GPS or simple pilotage observation to gauge ease of set and hold in various conditions. Read and learn about different techniques, such as two anchors at 60 or 90 degrees or Bahamian sets in currents. Learn to back down...hard...with the engine, and learn how to break the set under sail only.

This will guide your decision, and if I had built my own schooner over 20 years, I wouldn't hesitate to get several anchors, oversized, because the personal value of your efforts is worth insuring well beyond any monetary compensation a policy might provide.

Hope this helps. By the way, I have a 24,000 steel cutter, and carry a 45 lb. CQR, a 33 lb. Bruce, a 33 lb. Danforth and a 40 lb. yachtsman, with 100 feet of 3/8" chain and 200 feet of 5/8" nylon rode. This is for Lake Ontario...your anchorage may vary. Before we go to sea, I will review our needs and will likely go all BBB chain and get a 75 lb. storm anchor.
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Old 05-12-2007
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I have been anchored everyday for the last 3 years. From the Bahams to Georgia all through Florida. The Delta has been the Best anchor I have used so far. The Danforth and Fortress are fine for mud and sand as long as the wind and current dont change direction. Bruce is equaly bad at most things. I liked it when I started but it let me down more than once. Its better than the danforth in shifty conditions but not as good as the Delta for quick set and holding. The most important thing is to put out enough scope. Mark your rode. My early problems were mostly traced to using to little scope. "If you didnt skimp on a windless then to put out more than enough scope is no problem. I use the 35lb delta on a 42ft ketch. It only let me down once ina squal and it was my fault for powering up on the road to much and getting side ways to a shifting wind in Georgetown. I had been in a 60 knot squal a month before with no engine and it held even with a 180 deg. wind shift mid storm. I recomend delta for all but the softest mud. IMHO
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Old 05-12-2007
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Hawkeye-

All of your anchors sound a bit undersized for a boat the size of yours. I have a 28' trimaran and have a 15kg Rocna as my primary anchor. This is probably a better anchor with more holding power than the CQR you have aboard. It is almost as heavy as anything Valiente has on his boat, and also probably more holding power. While my boat may have significant windage for a boat its size, it probably doesn't have as much windage or inertia as your boat or his since it masses less than 5000 lbs. fully loaded for cruising.

I chose the Rocna based on the recommendation of several long-term cruisers I've written/spoken with and several friends. I have also used the Danforth (a 14 lb. one is my kedge anchor) and the Spade, Bruce, Fortress, and several others over the years... The only real complaint I have with the Rocna is that it generally comes up with about its own weight of mud or sand each time I bring it up.

I don't believe anything you or Valiente have would hold in a serious storm. In general, the next gen anchors, like the Rocna, Spade, Manson Supreme, Buegel and Bulwagga are going to have more holding power than the older more traditional designs. They are also often better at resetting themselves if they are pulled out by shifting winds or currents.

However, different anchors excel in different bottom conditions... and on a hard, rocky bottom, nothing will help except sheer mass... in hard sand or mud, the next gens will do quite well, and many of them do fairly well in grass/weed bottoms. In a soft muddy bottom, the most important characterisitic of the anchor is fluke area, and some designs, like the XYZ and the Fortress often do better than others there. Some of the next gen anchors have larger fluke area for their mass than the more traditional designs will, given a particular weight, so will often perform better in a soft muddy bottom than the older anchors.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 05-12-2007 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 05-13-2007
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I don't believe what I currently have would do in a storm, either, but it works in Lake Ontario. This is why I follow threads like this with great interest, because some of the currently new designs address better holding power with less mass (although frequently they are difficult to stow).

On the other hand, some designs (and I don't have the relevant Practical Sailor tests in front of me) don't hold well at all in conditions other than the ones in which they are advertised to excel. The CQR/Bruce/Danforths give a range of at least adequate grip in most conditions, save for weedy rocks, which the positively antique yachtsman likes. So it's a trade-off based on conditions: if you spend all your time in sandy bottoms in the Caribbean (how nice!), you can pick a current anchor for maximum hold in those conditions. But if you go all sorts of place and don't always know what you'll find, you have to carry a lot of opinions. The jury's still out on the "generalist" performance of newer anchors like the Spade and the Rocna, whereas you generally know what a Bruce, CQR and Danforth will do in most conditions, because there's a 60 year track record from the cruising community.

That said, I do believe "more scope, more chain" makes ANY anchor work to its utmost. Improperly setting even the best anchor is a recipe for failure that one can't blame on the designer.
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Old 05-18-2007
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As can be seen, the choice of anchors is often a personal one. I have found that a 20kg CQR with 50ft 3/8chain and 250 ft of nylon on a 20,000lb sloop works well in most bottom conditions. One night in the Bahamas we were hit with a 60kt leading edge of a supercell with a 180 degree wind shift. The boat heeled so violently at the onset of the gusts that I almost spilled my gin and tonic, but the CQR reset quickly. The next morning when raising the anchor the GPS confirmed that the anchor had reset and held within abount ten feet of where it had been dropped. The CQR also works well in rocky bottoms, especially with a trip line attached, but I wouldn't want to trust it in 60kts of wind.
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Old 05-18-2007
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I have been anchored everyday for the last 3 years. From the Bahams to Georgia all through Florida. The Delta has been the Best anchor I have used so far. The Danforth and Fortress are fine for mud and sand as long as the wind and current dont change direction. Bruce is equaly bad at most things. I liked it when I started but it let me down more than once. Its better than the danforth in shifty conditions but not as good as the Delta for quick set and holding. The most important thing is to put out enough scope. Mark your rode. My early problems were mostly traced to using to little scope. "If you didnt skimp on a windless then to put out more than enough scope is no problem. I use the 35lb delta on a 42ft ketch. It only let me down once ina squal and it was my fault for powering up on the road to much and getting side ways to a shifting wind in Georgetown. I had been in a 60 knot squal a month before with no engine and it held even with a 180 deg. wind shift mid storm. I recomend delta for all but the softest mud. IMHO
My experience, exactly.

The bottom there is a muddy/sand as I recall. I would buy the biggest Fortress I could buy. It will break down and fit in the bilge when not in use. I would make that a primary, followed by my delta potentially in a 180 the opposite direction. Odd are the storm will either come across the peninsula or from the SW. If from the SW, that is where you will get hit the hardest because there is no land to slow her down (although the entire straight of Fl will not slow down a 3+ much at all).

Thus, position your Fortress to the SE and your Delta just east of N (not quite Nwest, in my opinion, because you will want to be covered should a SE storm come across. All chain rode, with great snubbers. I am not a fan of line rode in storm strength conditions, but you will need to set up a good shock absorber or you will jerk your anchor loose in the breaking swells. There are a lot of options for doing this, but make sure that no matter what, should the snubber break you still have the chain. In the worst of it (as I can tell you) your bow will be SOOOOO taunt I do not know you will get that much jerking motion.

However, there is a disclaimer on all of this:

1) DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT RIDING IT OUT ON YOUR BOAT. I did this once with my family. Once the storm really gets blowing and the surge comes in, you are NOT getting off that tub. We had no choice about it... but still regret it. I don't think you will ever find someone that has rode out a hurricane that would do it twice (if they lived to tell about it). Tie up your boat as best you can, then get the hell out as quickly as you can. They shut down many of the bridges at 35 sustained (we found out too late), thus get out early and do not wait until the last second. Once it is blowing hard, there are a few things you can do - but not much. Once it is over 80-100, you ARE NOT ABOUT TO DO ANYTHING BUT HUNKER DOWN BELOW AND REACCESS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD!! You cannot go outside. Don't believe me?? Try standing up in the back of a pickup going 70. You cannot do it. Now, double that (as wind increases exponentially and 100 is probably twice the force of 70). That is the conditions you are in... not to mention all the debris flying around. DON'T DO IT! IT IS JUST A DAMNED BOAT!

2) All of this preparation will probably be for nothing. Odds of being hit are low. If you are hit, there will be some A-hole (sorry, that is the only word for it) with a Sea Ray who throws out a 15lb danforth for his 38 foot POS boat, then drags across your anchors and takes you into rocks with him (I have video footage of that one). Believe me... those odds are better than 50/50.

Hope all that helps. Reality is that you are better off dry dcking that thing and strapping it down to the ground. If the big one comes, nothing will save you but your insurance policy, FEMA, beanie-weenies, and Holiday Inn.

- CD
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Last edited by Cruisingdad; 05-18-2007 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 05-18-2007
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Nah, change my mind, position the Delta NW. Just go for the 180 and hope it is not a 5 coming across the peninsula.
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