Join Date: Nov 2009
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I've been anchoring the the Great Salt Pond in Block Island for over 25 years, on both danforths (including a Fortress) and a CQR. If you can get to the east of the private moorings in less than 6' at low tide, you can get a set more easily than if you are to the north and west of the private moorings. There is a notoriously bad holding area there that is comprised of weeds in a soft bottom. You can identify it on a busy weekend by the open water, as you watch folks repeatedly get a set and give up. It gets even more interesting when the wind picks up, especially if there is a wind shift. Don't ask how I know.
I have had a small danforth hold in an unexpected 50kt breeze on the east end of the pond and have had a larger CQR drag on a windshift at 25 kts, but that was in the "bad" area and I was up in the wee hours keeping an anchor watch, as were a lot of my neighbors. I don't think a Rocna or Manson would have done any better. I had a sizeable danforth high tensile and a medium Fortress in reserve, but didn't have much confidence in that either, knowing the bottom conditions. There were many boats with various anchors that failed to hold or reset when the wind picked up in this area. I was not alone, with frequent visits to the neighborhood by the towboat operators.
What's the lesson? Get a mooring if you are in a questionable area (if you can.). If you are not getting a set after 3 attempts, you are missing the message. There is a similar area in Newport (RI) harbor, where you will see a hole in the anchorage on the busiest of days. I don't know what the bottom is for sure, but it seemed like "black mayonnaise": weeds were not the issue. When you find yourself in this kind of situation, you'd better have a "plan B" that includes moving to another location.
For what it's worth, I've been able to get a CQR to hold reliably in a soft bottom, but you have to plow it deep. This doesn't work if you are in close quarters, because you have to back down a ways. The only problem with this situation is hauling it up the next morning, when it is more than 4 ft down in the mud. After a couple of these events I installed a windlass!
When it comes to anchors, there is no magic solution, but experience and local knowledge makes a difference, regardless of your anchor type.