Bend to my will evil heavy anchor!

One of our first major purchases on Pura Vida was an upgraded anchor.  We were thrilled to acquire 150′ of G4 chain with her, but a little less enamored with the plough style anchor on her bow.

Few things in boating are debated as much as anchors.  There are dozens of styles and more manufacturers than you can shake a boat hook at.  Up until a few years ago the Plough, which looks just like its namesake was considered by many to be the most modern and high tech whatszit out there.

Plough anchors have a sharp point that digs into the bottom of the sea floor and angled wings behind it that force the point down to grip.  This works great for the most part.  The problem is when the wind really kicks up, the pull on the anchor causes it to dig further.  Instead of digging down, the anchor digs sideways.  When the pull of the boat overpowers the grip of the soil, the anchor drags and the boat moves.  Ironically, this is exactly the effect desired by farmers using an actual plough.

Plough anchor, wings face down.

Enter the scoop anchor.  Same idea, except the wings are angled the opposite direction, so when the chain is pulled the anchor digs further down into the sea bed instead of across it.  Obviously nothing in boating is foolproof, but its logical to us and extensive testing by other boaters and consumer reports style publications have resulted in rave reviews.

Scoop anchor, Rocna brand. Wings face up.
Scoop anchor, Spade brand. Wings up!

We opted for the Rocna brand based on its stellar performance in high wind testing and value.  The Spade brand is also excellent, but a little pricier and our squeaky wallets won.

We haven’t yet been in an anchorage windy enough to really test the Rocna’s test results ourselves but we have anchored in winds over 20 knots with no hint of a drag.  Unfortunately the only way to really test the anchor will be when the wind kicks up, but we’re confident it will do the trick.

One major problem with upgrading the anchor is that the bow roller wasn’t designed for it, so the nice holes Hunter provided for  a locking pen to hold the anchor in place don’t line up.   Up until a few months ago this wasn’t a problem.  We would raise the anchor with the windlass, then once it was up just remove the chain from the drum and cleat hitch it to a cleat inside the locker.

The issue with this system became apparent leaving San Francisco’s treasure island anchorage.  Like most spots in the bay it has a goopy mud bottom which creates a slick muddy mess all over the bow roller when the anchor is raised.

I had just gotten the anchor up and on the roller and gave captain Brian the OK to power us out of the anchorage.  I pulled the chain off the drum and reached over to hook it on the cleat.  As he turned the boat rocked slightly and the anchor slipped off the bow roller and plunged back into the water.  Ack!!  The water is only 20′ deep here, but the weight of the chain free falling uncontrollably under its own weight sent almost all of it flying out of the locker and to the bottom of the bay.  I yelled at Brian to put the engine in neutral and come help me contain the beast.  With the power of man strength we were able to get the chain back on the windlass and re-raise the anchor.

The bitter end of the chain is securely tied off to a ring inside the locker, so the chance of loosing the whole thing was minimal, but the force and speed of the chain flying out of the locker left me shaken up.  A hand or foot tangled in that mass of flying metal would result in a disastrous injury, and if the anchor slipped off in deeper water the windlass would have little chance of raising the entire weight of the chain.

After this incident I acquired an additional chain hook and installed a second cleat inside the anchor locker.  Now I now hook on the chain and cleat it off securely before removing the chain from the windlass.  Short of the clutch on the windlass failing (extremely unlikely) there is no way for the anchor to fall off the bow roller while I fiddle with the chain.  Bonus, two points of attachment means the anchor shakes around less while we are underway.

Anchor locker with new cleat on the right.
Anchor locker with new cleat on the right.  Just try to get away from me now anchor!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s