Top 10 Boat Anchors

Top 10 Boat Anchors

The anchor is a symbol of safety, of hearth-and-home. That’s why so many sailors have had an anchor tattoo.

At its most primitive a boat anchor would be a rock tied to a rope of some sort.  Today, there are many types of anchors.

Different shapes of anchors are for different types of bottoms (sandy, rocky, weeds, etc.) and some are better suited for different types and sizes of ships and boats.

The most widely used types of anchors are the plow and the fluke. The plow is generally considered to work on more types of bottoms than any other, whereas a fluke is easier to store.

A marine anchor is actually required by law almost everywhere in the world, so it’s smart to get one. Even better to choose the right one.

Here is a list of 10 of the best anchors for your ship or boat. Read about their purpose down below to learn more about which one is right for your boat.

Plow anchors

Plow anchors are good for muddy bottoms, grass and sand. The single point “plows” into the bottom, holding the boat. There are additional plow or scoop designs or sub-types.

The Delta belongs to the second generation of anchor designs. It’s a type of plow anchor that does not have a hinged neck – it has a fixed shank – and is less expensive than the C.Q.R.  It’s a heavy duty one-piece anchor that is designed to dig in deep to create the best hold in strong currents/winds or changing tides either at sea or inland waters.

It does release itself from the bow roller as soon as you release the tension on the rode because its weighted tip makes it roll over and also digs in as soon as it hits the bottom. When the plow hits the seafloor, it buries itself in the seabed. The anchor’s form will make it adjust with the chaning tide or wind or when the boat position changes.

It is a very popular choice among boaters, especially for vessels between 21 ft and 50 ft.   

Generally Suitable for Which Surface?

  • Performs well in grass and weeds, including sand
  • Does not perform well in most rocky beds

This is a new generation of ultra high holding power anchor and is regarded as the best multi-purpose boat anchor in the world.

The Rocna was designed in 2004 by a New Zealand Cruiser, Peter Smith, after years of tweaks and tests on anchor modifications while completing more than 100,000 nautical miles of ocean cruising.

The roll bar in the integrated design helps turn the anchor over so it can position itself on the seafloor for best setting. It also has setting skids which help keep it in the correct position while sitting on the sea bed. It has a concave fluke that can cut into the seafloor and thereby buying itself efficiently and fast.

The Rocna Galvanized Anchor sets in all types of sea floors. The Rocna has the largest total blade area of 3 blades tested in a comprehensive comparative study – Rocna, Manson Supreme and The Ray.

This anchor type is recommended for boats of all sizes, from small to superyachts.

Specs & Features

  • Weight: 9 lbs to 606 lbs

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Things we like:

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    Suitable for all floor types
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    Digs in quickly and easily and has excellent holding properties
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    Once set it is resistant to wind and tide shifts
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    The roll-palm self-rights the anchor on the seabed
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    Lifetime Warranty against breakage and bending additional to manufacturing defects

Things we don't like:

  • check-markDue to the rollbar it does not stow neatly on all bow rollers
Read full review

Where to buy:

Rocna Galvanized Anchor Product Image

Rocna Galvanized Anchor

Following the success of the first anchor Rocna have designed the Vulcan – it is designed for exceptional holding power and purchase but without the bow roller design. So it is sleek while retaining the strength and reliability of its predecessor. It has the concave shape of the blade with a roll bar on top to help stay upright.

For many cruisers this is preferred as their primary anchor.

We consider this as the strongest anchor in its class. The Vulcan is available in 10 different sizes ranging from 9 lbs to 121 lbs. The Vulcan is manufactured from high tensile stainless and galvanized mild steel thereby corrosion and rust resistant and strong.

Specs & Features

  • Weight: 9 lbs to 121 lbs

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Things we like:

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    The shank profile fits snugly in many boats with bowsprits and bow platforms. It fits a wider range of bow rollers
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    Digs in quickly and easily and has rock solid holding properties
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    Once set it is resistant to wind and tide shifts
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    Reliable anchoring in sandy, mud, rocky and gravel-like conditions
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    Lifetime Warranty against breakage and bending additional to manufacturing defects

Things we don't like:

  • check-markExpensive but worthwhile
Read full review

Where to buy:

Rocna Vulcan Product Image

Rocna Vulcan

The Mantus M1 Marine is a premium anchor without doubt, available in a range of sizes and manufactured from stainless steel and galvanized carbon steel. The manufacturer claims it is superior to all similar products.

Every thought is given to its strength and durability.

Specs & Features

  • Weight: 2.5 lbs to 175 lbs

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Things we like:

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    Easy to store as it dissembles
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    Sharp nose digs in quickly for fast setting
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    Ideal for sand, gravel or mud and can be used on hard rock beds
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    Lifetime Warranty

Things we don't like:

  • check-markExpensive
  • check-markCould be a problem for bow roller
Read full review

Where to buy:

Mantus M1 Product Image

Mantus M1 Marine Anchor

The Lewmar Galvanized Delta Anchor is one of the best around, manufactured from high-grade manganese steel. It is self-launching, tough and rugged and comes in various weights. It is our best overall choice as it works well in most situations.

It has an intelligent design and use of high-grade, tough but more affordable materials. Installed correctly, used with the correct amount of rode, this galvanized anchor will hold boats more than 7000lbs in place. It is available in 3 sizes. The price tag is reasonable with no compromise on quality.

Specs & Features

  • Weight: 14 lbs to 140 lbs

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Things we like:

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    Suitable for most boats even in challenging conditions
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    Easy to deploy and easy to pull up
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    Digs in quickly and easily and has excellent holding properties
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    Resets with wind and tide shifts
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    Performs well in bottoms with mud, gravels, grass and weeds, including sand.
Read full review

Where to buy:

Lewmar Galvanized Delta Anchor Product Image

Lewmar Galvanized Delta Anchor

This a solid all round Plow anchor – thought of by some as the number one anchor to have on board.

It is the latest model from the UK Company Lewmar at very competitive prices for stainless steel or galvanized versions. Its concave flukes with ballasted tips are there to maximize holding power in a variety of sea beds. It digs in readily and is self righting.

It is intended as a replacement of the Lewmar Delta anchor and although the shank is shorter it has been designed with the same basic shank geometry so that it will fit into the same bow roller.

It is also available with an optional roll bar.

Specs & Features

  • Weight: 14 lbs to 140 lbs

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Suitable for most boats
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    Digs in quickly and is self-righting and has super-high holding properties
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    Performs well in bottoms with light grass and weeds
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    Once set it is resistant to wind and tide shifts
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    Anti-snagging design
Read full review

Where to buy:

Lewmar Epsilon Product Image

Lewmar Epsilon

Danforth | Fluke or Lightweight or Cruising

Since they are lightweight they are typically adapted to small recreational boats, very popular with boats under 21 ft. It is also compact so perfect for easy stowage. It is one of the first generation of high holding power stockless anchors with a large grasping weight ratio, similar to the plow with a few improvements. It is light, compact and stows flat while being easy to retrieve and effective at the same time.

It uses a hinged stock at the crown to which 2 large flat surfaces are attached and 2 tips. Due to the hinge the flukes orientate towards the bottom and on some designs can even be adjusted depending on the bottom type. The small angular baseplate on both sides of the flukes, together with the angular pressure on the rode, causes the sharp flukes to dig down.

Usually the weight of the anchor is indicative of its holding power, however the fluke anchors rely on the set instead of weight of anchor so they need to get a good grip to set.

Danforth is a registered trademark, beware of many knock-offs.

For boats tight on space or not wishing to use a heavy anchor, flukes are a great choice. As a back up when you may need to ‘cut and run’ your primary anchor this would be a good secondary anchor.

Generally Suitable for Which Surface?

  • Gains a good set easily in soft mud and hard sand where the flukes can dig in
  • If you do not get a good set it has minimal holding power as it is lightweight and it does not hold as well on rocky, grassy, clay or weed bottoms

Claw/Bruce Anchor – trademarked Bruce

This one-piece anchor’s popularity grew quickly when it was developed in the 1970s and since the patent expired in the early 2000’s many companies have copied it. Its claw allows it to perform a 360° turn without breaking its mooring and is a favorite with recreational boaters as it tends to right itself regardless of how it is dropped. It sets fast and it can be used for most types of sea bottoms.

It gets its name from the obvious claw-like shape, having sharp barbs to grab onto a wide range of surfaces and settles easily.

It will also reset quickly if the wind changes.

For most boaters, a Bruce or Delta anchor is the best balance between price and performance.

Generally Suitable for Which Surface?

  • Good for most sea bottoms including mud, coral, rock and sand. Excellent all round anchor.
  • Difficulty in penetrating solid surfaces like clay or where there are heavy grasses. Has limited holding power in hard surfaces or soft sand

Mushroom Style Anchors

Mushroom anchors are primarily used for moorings for personal watercrafts, small aluminum fishing boats or dinghies – light vessels anchoring for short periods of time in light conditions. They do come in a variety of sizes providing solid and stable anchorage but have minimal holding power.

Generally Suitable for Which Surface?

  • They work best where the mushroom shape creates a suction such as in soft bottoms. The holding power of the permanent mushroom anchors comes from the silt that builds up over them
  • Hard or thick grass or rocky bottoms

Grapnel Anchor

These small grappling hooks find a hold on a wide range of floor types and are used for quick, short term mooring for small vessels including kayaks.

They comprise a shaft with collapsible prongs or flukes, easy to stow and easy to deploy.

 Generally Suitable for Which Surface?

  • Can grab on anything, best in rocky bottoms
  • Not suitable for medium or large water craft, for long holds or any reasonable current or poor conditions

Box Anchor

For good measure we have to add the Box Anchor. Just when you thought you knew which one to choose !

This new patented design is exciting. The best feature of the box anchor is its ability to set immediately into the bottom without requiring power from the boat.

It launches and sets easily into any kind of condition, it can reset itself if there are changes in wind, current or weather and only requires half the length of line as that of traditional anchors for offshore use. It also weighs easily.

Furthermore – it folds flat in storage.

Generally Suitable for Which Surface?

  • Any bottom for a boat up to a maximum length of 70 ft
  • Solid rock where it cannot grasp at all

A little history on the modern anchor ….

The word anchor derives from Latin ‘ancora’ which comes from the Greek word ‘ἄγκυρα (ankȳra)’. 

Modern anchor designs are generally based on 3 standard designs that have been used from the 10th century. These are the Fluke, Admiralty and Stockless anchors. 

The Admiralty, also known as a ‘Fisherman’ has a central shank with a ring or shackle for attaching the rode (rope/chain/cable connecting the ship and the anchor). You will still see these in use today.

The Stockless anchors are a derivation of the traditional Admiralty pattern used on board large ships. The design was patented in England in 1821, eliminating the stock and thereby making it easier to stow and handle. The 2 flukes that pivot (therefore less wear and tear) on the same plane are perpendicular to the shank and the weight of the shank, chain together with the angled shank under tension to keep the anchor flat on the seafloor.

The Stockless is a simple design with no unnecessary parts, easy to handle comparatively and to stow. Due to the design it free falls much faster in the water than bulkier anchors and breaks easily from the bottom.

It will generally still hold even if there is a change in direction of wind/current/boat and performs poorly in soft mud or sand.

Fluke anchors are so called as they resemble the lobes of a whale’s tail and are the part of the anchor that digs into the bottom or substrate. It is the iconic modern anchor shape most recognised with 2 points at each end of the 2 flukes.

Advances in anchor technology, especially in the last 20 years, as well as the different types of anchors available means that the older boats are not necessarily equipped with what is currently considered safe and acceptable to use.

How to start selecting an anchor ?

We’ve focused in this article on the recreational size vessel requirements, whether they be sailing, motor-boat, fishing, kayaking or pontoon.

The Bruce, Delta, CQR and Danforth have patent designs that have expired and therefore any Company can use the designs and modify them to their own brand name. It can be confusing to know what is best.

It is a given that today’s high holding power anchors are most certainly more effective than older products. 

There is no one-best anchor and however good your anchor tackle is, it is only as good as the operator’s technique so you must know how to use your specific anchor best.

Our advice is to carry at least 2 anchors of different designs – there will be times when you will possibly need one from your stern and your bow.

Your primary anchor should have a holding power equal to at least to 6% of your boat’s displacement. Your second anchor needs to be between 150%-200% as effective as your primary. For cruisers, a third anchor for light winds and short anchoring periods is a good recommendation.

The Most popular boat anchor is the plow type. That’s because it is the most versatile, in terms of different bottom types for which it works well.

Tips for selecting the perfect anchor

  • The correct minimum recommended size and weight of anchor for your vessel (total weight of anchor). The anchor’s weight is more important generally than its design when it comes to holding power.
  • Always follow manufacturer’s recommendations – most cruisers would then say ‘bump it up at least 1 size’, without compromising the handling or hull integrity. Big doesn’t necessarily mean best.
  •  The blade area with a concave profile similar to shape of a shovel to dig into seabed
  •  The anchor material – galvanized (which can be recoated) with improved tensile capabilities or aluminum-magnesium which is affordable and durable. Or stainless steel which is expensive and looks lovely until it’s scratched or stained?
  •  Tip weight – loading as much weight here as possible helps to penetrate weed and other difficult types of sea bed. You are looking at 35-45 % tip weight (that is the % of total weight that the anchor puts on sea bottom when it is lying on its side
  • The holding power of the anchor – See what is required for different wind speeds here.
  • The cost – if it is a low cost unbranded anchor it is most likely not fit for purpose. It may not be strongly cast and/or the design could be geometrically wrong
  • The physical measurements of the anchor alone do not give definitive conclusions about anchor performance but they do indicate how they are likely to perform in different conditions.
  • Further factors to take into consideration as to which anchor to use are the weather and sea state and the condition of sea/water-bed

Important points to consider when anchoring

The type of anchor you use is based on a number of factors as above. In addition – the length and type of your rode – that is the chain/rope (sometimes cable) that is secured to is considered by many to be as important, if not more important than the anchor. 

The weight of the rode also holds you in place. Consider the dynamics – every time the boat lifts, the rode needs to be lifted off the bottom where it lies. With more weight of the rode needing lifting, the less likely the anchor will be lifted and unset.

An anchor windlass, either vertical or horizontal, is found on most bigger/heavier boats. They can be quite pricey, but they are so nice to have. Casting and hauling up the anchor by hand can be done, but there’s a higher rate of accidents there.

For this reason, most anchor windlasses are electric, like the Lewmar V4 Vertical Windlass.

Rode

  • Some conditions will only require nylon line(small vessels and/or day anchoring), others chain and nylon or chain alone (heavier). There are a lot of people who will not mix line and chain. However, using a line in addition to a chain makes the rode longer with consideration of weight.
  • We suggest at least 20% chain on your rode for vessels <50 ft in 30 ft of water with a scope of 6 to 1. Refer to your manufacturer.
  • Make sure the rode is marked at intervals clearly so you know how much is out. so that you know how much chain is out. Markings are usually at every 30ft or 10m. The ‘red’ can be painted on with/no zip tie (kept short) or plastic chain markers. Different colors are available.

Type of chain

  • There are so many options but the only one suitable to use is galvanized steel or BBB.  ⅜” high-test chain is our preferred chain.
  • The more chain there is, the better the hold will be. Read further for Chain sizing 

Type of Line

  • Nylon 3 strand is the best. It stretches so it will not jerk the anchor out of the bottom if there is a sudden lift in the boat. Cheapest and most durable too.
  • Braided nylon is not as ‘stretchy’ as 3-strand. Braided poly-propylene – not that stretchy, breaks down in the sun, not that strong but it floats. This is great for securing your dingy so that the rode does not damage coral, get wrapped around props. Can also use this as your painter (tie up your dingy when coming alongside).

Securing chain to line

  • Use a shackle with or without a thimble – this does lead to the problem of it being too big to go through the windlass. To overcome this one could use a, preferably, 8 plait line to chain splice, this does feed through windlass. Keep checking this splice regularly

Regardless of how good your anchor system is – if you do not drop anchor well and ensure it is set, it is not going to hold and this can give you sleepless nights. So take good time to make sure it is set and wait for a tidal change to be very sure it is holding.

Top 10 Anchors 

Non-commercial Recreational Anchors

  1. Rocna Galvanized – Plow
  2. Rocna Vulcan – Plow
  3. Mantus M1 Marine
  4. Lewmar Galvanized Delta – Delta/Wing
  5. Lewmar Epsilon – Delta/Wing
  6. Fortress FX Fluke – Danforth/Fluke/Lightweight
  7. Lewmar Claw Anchor – Claw/Bruce
  8. The Seachoice Mushroom
  9. Danielson Galvanized Folding
  10. Slide Box Anchor 

Legalities and local regulations

As a boat vessel safety feature it must meet requirements of your Insurance Brokers.

You may have seen the performance standards HHP (High holding power) and SHHP (Super high holding power), relating to the anchor efficiency pulled in a straight line (pure resistance performance).  Using this base-line standard, look at independent testing and feedback from users as the presence of a logo does not mean complete compliance and it also does not mean that the particular anchor is individually certified.

Anchors under 200 lbs are mostly not certified. Please refer to your specific local regulations.

Conclusion

There are far too many variables involved when choosing an anchor for there to be one anchor that’s the best on the market.

We hope however that the above has helped in some way, but if you really only have space for 1 we would go with a Delta anchor.

Time to settle in for the evening – a good night’s sleep without worry about dragging your anchor!

Sweet dreams for tomorrow’s sailing.

We love to hear your comments so add them below.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions about boat anchors

What is the Suggested Anchor weight and Rode for my boat?

Sizing – go by manufacturers suggested sizing and adjust to your specific circumstances. It is recommended to go with the size of 1 lb of anchor per ft of the boat – this may be an overkill in good conditions.

To measure chain length (rode) the basic equation is wind speed + boat length = chain length. Bear in mind chain is heavier than line.H

What is the Scope?

This is the length of the anchor line relative to the distance from your boat’s deck to the sea bottom. This is determined using the water at high tide level or worst case scenario.

In essence if you have 40 ft of rode in 10 ft of water your scope is 4:1

We recommend a bare minimum of 4:1 in best weather, most cruisers will have a 7:1 scope.

Is the Snubber part of the Rode?

A snubber is a nylon ‘Elastic’ extension to the chain. It is not part of the Rode.

This prevents a jerking action as the boat lifts sharply out of the water the shock is taken by the snubber. This needs to be short, just to the waterline, it can be replaced often but the shorter this is the more effective in taking the shock.

The best way to hook snubber onto the chain is with a galvanized Devil’s claw. The second best way is simply to use a rolling hitch.  It is not good to use a hook as it puts a lot of stress on one link, a lot of torque at a right angle.The other end of the snubber is attached to the boat itself – on a cleat or sampson post.

This is essential if your rode is only chain.

Make sure that the snubber is protected by a chain guard so that it doesn’t get chaffed, if necessary.

What is a ‘trip line’?

A ‘trip line’ is tied through the hole in the crown or plough end of the shank (or the palm of a Danforth-type anchor) to a surface buoy, or some folk will secure their chain rode to the anchor at this crown point on the anchor and secure a trip (such as a strong cable tie or similar) to the end of the shank.

You can then dislodge an anchor that is stuck by pulling it out in a different direction from that of the anchor rode.

Do I need a windlass?

Without a windlass you will be setting and lifting your anchor by hand which is tiring or in an emergency it could also be dangerous.

A windlass can be either manual (using a winch handle) or electric. Electric windlass’ can be controlled by foot controls or hand held control.

Most windlass on small to large size vessels are of the Chain Gypsey style where the chain is fed by the gypsy through a spurling tube/hole into the chain locker below the deck.

At this point we would like to mention that if you use your anchor in areas of mud or weed it is necessary to have a means of rinsing off your chain as it comes up so that you are now stowing it all!

Your anchor locker must be large enough to stow away the chain without it becoming tangled and backed up. Access to the anchor locker other than from the deck can also be useful.

Please note that Windlass counters are not as reliable as secure markers on the chain to measure how much rode you have out.

Is it necessary to have a Safety line on your Rode?

In the interests of safety it is always best to use a small line to tie off the chain near or from the ring of the anchor to a deck cleat once the anchor is fully up and the chain is stowed. This will prevent the anchor from dropping down for any reason the windlass loosens and it takes some strain off of the chain movement in rough weather.

Fun fact: The world’s oldest wooden anchor (with metal-covered crown) was excavated from 1.5 meters underground in the Turkish port city of Uria, the Greek 1st Millenium BCE colony of Klazomenai. 

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