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How big of an anchor should I carry on my boat? An important question that often isnt asked is, How many anchors should I carry?
Consult the manufacturer of your anchor for an answer to these questions. The size, displacement, type of boat and its intended use are important considerations. Often you have one main anchor, one storm anchor (a size or two up from your boat requirement) and one lunch anchor (a size or two down).
Fluke Anchors the Danforth is lightweight compared to its holding power, the Danforth is superb in sand and mud, and its flat configuration makes it easy to carry aboard. The Danforth doesnt set well in hard bottoms, and sea grass can keep it from reaching the bottom. There are many similar lightweight fluke anchors on the market, including the Fortress, which is aluminum. In a strong current, the broad flukes of the Danforth and similar fluke anchors can make them sail through the water rather than sink to the bottom.
Plow Anchors Popular cruising anchors in this class are the old cruising standard CQR secure and the Delta. They get their name from the plow shape witch digs in well and this anchor will reset itself if a change in pull trips it. Although it may not bury in hard bottoms, this anchor is more effective in grass than other lightweight anchors. This anchor is hard to stow, except on a bow roller.
Claw Anchors Claw and Manta anchors are originally based on the Bruce anchor; the anchor designed to keep North Sea Rigs in their place. the Bruce anchor will reset itself if tripped. However, it doesnt do well in hard bottoms, and the shape of the flukes makes it vulnerable to fouling in heavy grass. A fixed shank anchor that is harder to stow.
Other Anchors - Specialty anchors are usually carried for unique situations. The grapnel anchor works well on rock bottoms as its narrow tines are more likely to snag small crevices while other anchors will slide over the bottom. A small grapple is often carried to rescue lost chain, to drag the bottom or to use on a small tender. The yachtsman, or kedge, anchor works well in sand and mud, and is better in hard bottoms and grass than other anchors. A small mushroom anchor makes a great dingy dive anchor. A 34 foot cruising sailboat might carry 4 anchors; 35# Plow (main), 33# Claw (backup), 50# Fisherman or 40# Fluke (storm) and a 8.8# grapnel (lunch hook, dingy, dredging). A 35 foot power boat might carry 3 anchors; 33# stainless steel Claw (main), 40# Fluke (backup, storm) and a small grapple or fluke anchor (lunch hook, dingy, dredging).