"How to Choose the Right Anchor for Your Boat"
Of course an anchor is one of those things that all boats need, but what kind? How many? How big?
The answers to these questions will depend largely on where and how you will be boating. If your travels will be in areas with a predominant type of bottom-mud, sand, or gravel, for example-your anchors need to fit that type of holding ground. The farther you plan to travel, the more bottom types you are likely to encounter, and therefore the more versatile your anchors need to be. Navigation charts and cruising guides for the areas you will be boating will indicate the types of bottom you can expect. Here's a short list of criteria to apply to anchor selection:
You want the anchor to hold your boat where you put it, so it must stay where you put it. Most of the characteristics of the anchor reflect its ability to "dig in" and continue to hold, without turning over or breaking loose. Additional considerations are its ability not to foul on anything it may encounter.
It must be light enough to handle and heavy enough to dig in and hold the bottom.
As we have already noted, it must be designed for the bottom types you will encounter the most. There are anchors designed for every type of bottom. Also, choose an anchor suited to your vessel's weight and handling characteristics.
It must hold in all kinds of weather, seas and current.
The primary criterion for choosing an anchor is its holding power. A mistaken concept is that an anchor depends upon weight for this holding power. In fact, holding power depends on design.
We recommend that, no matter what size your boat is or where you plan to travel, you have a minimum of three anchors on board. Two of these should be deployable from the bow and should be of different types. While the primary anchor will be used the most, the secondary can be used if it suits the bottom better or when you want to put down two anchors. The third anchor should be deployable from the stern. Even though
design is more significant then weight in choosing an anchor, consider sizing up your anchors at least one level from what is listed in the marine catalogs or manufacturer brochures for your boat length. No one ever lost sleep because they were more securely anchored than they needed to be! From our own observations, the most often used anchors are the CQR, (plow) Fortress, and Danforth models.
The CQR (or plow ) is a venerable design, and works in a wide range of bottom conditions. This is a common sight on the bow rollers of many boats. The Danforth is a pretty traditional choice. Made from aluminium or steel, it has great holding power in the right conditions. We know of many smaller boats (less than 30 feet) that depend entirely on Danforths.
Fortress anchors are a Danforth-style design made of an aluminium alloy that makes it light and of high tensile strength. They can be assembled in two ways to enable them to increase their efficiency and have great holding power.
Fishermen anchors, the familiar shape that's tattooed on Popeye's forearm and shows up on yacht club insignias, used to be common on boats, though the inclusion of these in the anchor inventory has decreased in recent years. Also, anchor design seems to be a continually evolving technology.