A typical recreational sailboat for rent comes equipped with two anchors as standard — one primary anchor with a chain on a bow bracket and a smaller foldable anchor on a rope normally stowed away in the storage locker. Boats are advised to carry at least two anchors for safety reasons and there are numerous varieties out there with some anchor types having multiple names. So, let's take a look at the most common ones you will come across on a charter boat.
Fisherman anchor — also known as the Admiralty anchor
This traditional anchor consists of two arms (flukes) attached to the shank. When it hits the seabed, one of the arms digs down into the surface. In comparison to other anchors, it holds well on a seabed covered in grass or seaweed but the downside is that it's extremely heavy (it doesn't hold well if it is lighter than 27 kilograms). As a result, it is currently more typically employed for large boats with a deep draught. Another advantage is that because it is flat and takes up little space, this anchor is easy to store on board.
CQR (plough) anchor — suitable for anchoring in sand
Although the name CQR appears technical, it's actually a play on words — read out loud it sounds similar to the word "secure". This anchor is a type of plough anchor and is still used relatively often. It is not ideal for anchoring in seagrass or algae beds, although it is well-suited for anchoring in sand and mud. When subjected to significant drag, however, this anchor really ploughs the seabed, although this normally occurs only in terrible conditions, when anchoring is virtually never recommended. Nowadays the CQR anchor is bit outdated and its successor, the Delta anchor, is more common.
Delta anchor — digs well into the seabed
This is basically an updated variant of the CQR anchor that digs into the seafloor better and deeper thanks to the extra weight on the tip. It performs well on most seabed types, except those thickly covered in seagrass or algae. When you throw it out, it normally hits the floor laying on its side, and only turns and digs in when subsequently pulled.
Bruce anchor — suitable for a soft seabed
In general, it has similar characteristics to a plough anchor and is best suited for soft or moderately soft seabed as it doesn't hold well on hard ground. Its functionality improves the large it is, which doesn't really pose a problem for recreational sailboats. In general, its performance is already lagging a bit behind the market, as more modern anchor shapes are already out there. It is said to hold better on a shorter chain.
Danforth anchor — with sharp tips
This compact, flat, fluke-style anchor has a large surface area relative to its weight with sharp points. It is suitable for anchoring on a soft or medium-soft seabed but may not penetrate well on particularly hard surfaces. They are popular as secondary anchors on board due to their compact flat design, which makes them easy to stow.
This anchor is probably the first one that everyone recalls from their skipper's course and as its name suggests, it is mushroom-shaped. This is a special type of anchor that is not commonly used, complicated by the fact that it is often extremely heavy (up to several hundred kilograms). This makes handling it impractical, although it is recommended on very soft seafloors, such as the mud in the Baltic, where it holds very firmly.
Grapnel anchor — with folding arms
This is a multi-armed anchor, an older version of which can often be seen in films about the Vikings. As its arms are hinged or even detachable, the anchor is collapsible. Nowadays it is used more by smaller recreational sailing or motorboats, as well as small fishing boats.
There are also a large number of more or less common anchors such as the Navy, Next Gen, Britany, Fortress, Cobra, FOB, etc. On courses or while sailing we sometimes come across a special type of anchor for use in extreme situations — the sea anchor.
Sea anchor — the boat brake
A sea anchor is a unique device to ensure safety in a storm. You can find it hidden in the storage locker or compartment inside the boat, but don't look for anything that resembles a conventional anchor, search for a bag of some sort, usually distinctive in colour. It's also sometimes called parachute anchor, drift anchor, drift sock, para-anchor or boat brake... As the names imply, this anchor does not dig into the seabed but resembles a parachute and floats. It is used to stabilize the boat in a storm, slowing it down and keeping the bow pointing into the wind and waves. There is a legend among sailors that ships using a sea anchor have never been sunk in a storm so we recommend that you try deploying a sea anchor for some training. This experience will come in handy when you need it most, i.e. in a storm.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Not sure about mooring? Read our Complete guide to anchoring and moorings for tips, tricks and techniques, from dropping anchor to raising anchor after a night in the bay.
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Types of anchor rode (cable) on a charter yacht
The issue of how the anchor attaches to the boat isn't too complicated. Basically, the anchor will be attached on what is known as the anchor rode which will either be a chain or rope.
Both an advantage and disadvantage of the chain is its weight, which transfers the tension to the anchor horizontally and acts as a shock absorber. Another unquestionable advantage is its durability and although we have seen an anchor chain link crack due to material fatigue, you'll have a hard time chafing or snapping a chain. It is also easier to clean than rope and folds itself onto the anchor easier without having to worry too much about it getting tangled or knotted up. On charter boats, 99% of the time the main anchor at the bow is on a chain.
However, if do you happen to be aboard a boat with an anchor rode made from nylon rope, rubber hosing will come in handy as a puncture protector. We also recommend replacing the section of the rope that rests on the seabed with a length of chain to prevent the rope from becoming damaged or catching on objects. The main advantage of rope over chain is that its elasticity minimises tugging on the anchor. Keep in mind that while the anchor is lighter, more rope must be thrown with it than chain, which is a drawback in a narrow harbour because it increases the turning radius of the boat.
An anchor also comes with a boat. So, which one will you be taking on your sailing holiday?